Project Almanac flawed, but intriguing

by Brianne Simone

Meet the cast of Project Almanac: David Raskin, the MIT hopeful, his sister, Chris, and his friends Adam and Quinn. The entire cast is meant to be in their late-teens, though the oldest actor is actually in his early thirties and the youngest is twenty-two. These days what really matters is whether or not the actors can pass for the age they’re trying to play and while they may not quite hit the mark physically, they convey the emotions and anxieties very well.

     Project Almanac begins when David is making his application video with his friends and decides to send the video into MIT even after his project quite literally bursts into flames. Not being able to recognize a disaster when he sees one is important enough to David’s character that it becomes the driving force of the plot about half-way through the film. David gets accepted to MIT with the extrapolation that he pay $45,000 a semester, a price he can’t afford. To solve the problem, his mother decides to sell the house and in his desperate attempt to find a way to come up with the money that doesn’t involve selling the house he grew up in, David stumbles across his late father’s time machine.

Then again, some might think it a little odd that the MIT applicant agrees to skip straight from testing on inanimate objects to testing on himself, his friends, his love interest, and his sister.

The kids get the time machine working and quickly decide they should use it to make their lives better. This means they take petty revenge on bullies, cheat on the lottery, and do crazy stunts that make them Twitter and Facebook famous. Then one of them breaks the only rule they have: Don’t travel alone.

The dialogue sounds natural. It’s the gestures, however, that do the most to make you believe that it really is a bunch of teens interacting on the screen. David especially is prone to playing with his watch, rubbing his face, and bouncing his leg when he’s nervous or excited. Out of the entire cast, he gets the chance to show the most range. Unfortunately, this also means the rest of the cast doesn’t get as much of a chance to develop.

There really isn’t a soundtrack per say to the movie (with the exception of a brief cameo appearance by Imagine Dragons and a few other popular bands). Most of the time, you can hear a sound like static or some sort of mechanical pulse and it can get a little distracting at times, especially since the unfocused camera moves often, leaving the audience feeling dizzy and disoriented. Shaky movement in a found footage film is a trademark of the genre but I didn’t remember feeling quite so uncomfortable.

Whether or not you like the end is up to the individual person. Personally, I felt a mixture of shock, anger, and irritation. Despite its flaws, the effects and cinematography are excellent. If more time had been spent on building all of its characters and less on building the time machine, Project Almanac could have been a very good movie.

Senior Brianne Simone is a contributing writer. Her email is bsimone@fandm.edu.

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