Project Almanac (2015)
Directed by Dean Israelite
Time travel movies can get away with plot holes if they are so complex that audiences don’t notice (you can’t tell me you’d know if “Interstellar” was total bull). Unfortunately for audiences of “Project Almanac,” the latest dud in the handheld camera subgenre, the plot hole that ends the movie is very apparent. And what sucks even more is that they would have totally nailed the ending had they ended it three minutes earlier.
Five nobodies (Jonny Weston, Sofi Black-D’Elia, Virginia Gardner, Sam Lerner, and Allen Evangelista), which is what you expect from this anonymous genre, invent a time machine using parts from an old military experiment. First, they go back a day. Then a few. They use it to mend relationships and pass tests. But when they go back a few weeks, they start altering the present in disastrous ways. When they try to go back to fix it, the changes become even worse. But for David (Weston), the time machine worked. He got the girl, Jessie (Black-D’Elia). Now, he’ll have to weigh the costs with the benefits. Can the group get back to life as they knew it?
So many of my criticisms of this movie can be sweepingly made to so many time travel movies. The truth is, “Project Almanac” is just like those others. Someone says the obligatory “This is bigger than us!” line. They go back to win the lottery and buy expensive things. The guy used time travel to get the girl. It’s predictable, uninventive. The only reason the end was surprising was because it was so uneventful. The big plot twist that I had predicted just didn’t happen. What they did give us was actually pretty good. Sad, but good. And then they kept going, opening up a gaping plot hole in the process. Characterizations are thrown out the window just so these high schoolers can look cool when the movie ends. Honestly, it’s too satisfying. Happily ever after. There’s no risk. Plus, the nerdy guy getting with the hot girl (in two separate instances…really?) is far too unrealistic, even if you can buy into the whole time travel thing.
And plot holes weren’t the only mistakes. What about the handheld camera montage with soundtrack music? Where did that music come from? And every handheld camera movie has the lines insisting that the camera continues to run. It’s all a little too convenient. Things don’t just find their way on camera like that. No one films that much. Would you put your life and the lives of your friends on the line just for video footage that, let’s face it, might not exist in the future anyway? These guys seem to have no problem with it.
“Project Almanac” brings out the old “Book of Time Travel Movie Clichés” and starts reading it verbatim. If the filmmakers could travel back in time, maybe one of them would have said “Hey, maybe this movie isn’t original enough to be made.” Maybe somebody would have said “Sorry, Michael Bay, but having your money isn’t worth allowing your input in this production.” Maybe somebody would have stopped this awful piece of recycled waste from being made. But nobody did. Too bad for us.
“Project Almanac” is in theaters.