Director: Dean Israelite
Cast: Jonny Weston, Sofia Black-D’Elia, Ginny Gardner, Patrick Johnson
Length: 110 minutes
Opening: Now showing
Plot: A group of teenage kids uncover a mysterious box along with plans and schematics to build a time machine, which they do, and then use it for their own personal gain with dire consequences.
PROJECT ALMANAC was in the headlines in recent weeks no thanks to director Dean Israelite’s decision to use real-life footage of a military plane crash recorded in the 1990s. After families of the deceased pilots voiced their disapproval and disappointment, some quick edits replacing the said footage with computer-generated imagery were made, and the movie managed to make it to the cinemas in time for its intended release date.
Hollywood has seen so many films exploring time travel that there is really nothing new about this one — a bunch of geeky teenagers find plans for a time machine in David Raskin’s (Jonny Weston) scientist father’s basement workshop and decide to build it. Of course, the machine works after a few setbacks, and they soon find themselves hurtling through time and space in order to “redo” things that previously went wrong.
It’s all fine and dandy until David breaks the pact to only use the time machine in a group, never alone, to fix his relationship with Jessie (Sofia Black-D’Elia). As a result of his tampering, a “butterfly effect” occurs, and soon things that did not happen in the original timeline start happening — a plane crash, a star basketball player breaks a leg, forest fires, and many other unimaginable disasters.
In the quest to try and undo these unexpected side effects, David goes back in time over and over, only to find that every time he does so, something else goes wrong. Driven to delirium, possibly as a side effect of jumping around the timeline too much, he tries one last-ditch attempt to save everyone — by going right to the beginning.
Although Project Almanac sports a premise that sounds clichéd and all too run-of-the-mill, it does do a respectable job at combining science fiction with drama and action. The science, however questionable, is brought to life rather convincingly which, as a result, makes this movie more exciting than many other films dealing with time travel.
Surprisingly, the cast — new faces to Hollywood — do an excellent job portraying their characters. From a geek and a nerd to one of the most popular girls in school, this unlikely group of friends become unwittingly entangled in a thrilling ride through time.
Project Almanac is certainly worth the watch if you’re a sci-fi fan who doesn’t like over the top effects and far-fetched storylines. It’s well made, grounded, and graced by some of the brightest new talents that Hollywood has to offer.
This article first appeared in The Edge Financial Daily, on February 16, 2015.