Look, Michael Bay. Can’t you produce one, just ONE, legitimately excellent movie? I mean, come on! It’s been fail after fail after fail. It’s almost like you have M. Night Shyamalan’s touch of death whenever you get your hands on an idea. In any case, this week we have Project Almanac. It’s a “found-footage” film directed by Dean Israelite (who is Jonathan Liebesman’s cousin apparently), and written by two dudes who have literally written nothing but this flop, and starring: Jonny No Career, Sofia-I Can’t Act, and a guy who was in an episode of Two and a Half Men. Got ourselves an all-star group here folks!
Ok, this is a sci-fi film with a time travel premise. There has got to be something valuable here right? Well, okay, this movie does have some pretty convincing effects (most of the time). A few of the actors are passable, but the remaining actors are atrocious (Sofia Black-D’Elia is just the worst). The story in itself is unfocused, “inconsistent” if you will. Don’t get me wrong, I love the time travel premise. It opens the door to a lot of creative possibilities. Unfortunately, they underutilized it here. The kids do some juvenile (yet entertaining) stuff and that’s about it. They never go back to see a historical event or perhaps to watch any of the great renaissance artists create their masterpieces. Sadly, this makes me feel a bit robbed, since I was expecting a little more adventure. The inconsistency I mentioned earlier would be how the movie deals with seeing your past self. That is one of the Golden Rules of time travel after all. Each time they see each other, a different outcome happens. This gets confusing very quickly, and after a while it just looks like lazy writing so they can further the plot. This movie is interesting at some points, and just plain boring at others.
Alright, so how about the characters? In a movie like this, I MUST care about them. What they do will literally change the world, so I need to be able to identify them as the protagonists. I will give them some space, as they are teenagers who just stumbled across a time machine, but the main hero (who is supposedly the smartest of the group) makes one of the stupidest decisions I’ve seen in quite some time. I won’t spoil it for you, just know that it’s the same problem I had with Maleficent’s character. Besides him, the other guys are so forgettable and clichéd that I couldn’t be bothered to care about them. I instead started to worry about the world around them because of the danger they were potentially in. There is one last thing I have to talk about: THE COPIOUS AMOUNT OF PRODUCT PLACEMENT! Seriously, there is a Coca-Cola, Lenovo, Ford, or some random internet company product in EVERY scene. It gets really irritating after a while, and by the end of the film you want to never drink a Coke again. You know what the saddest thing about this movie is? It’s not a student film. Had this actually been a production made by a group of teens with a budget, I’d be delighted; because I’d recognize the effort (it would also explain why they film everything with their camera). But because this was produced by two Hollywood favorites, the movie suffers for it.
Here’s the bottom line, if you want a satisfying time travel movie, watch Back to the Future. If you want a satisfying, yet creative “found footage” movie, watch Chronicle. This gets Guy’s Guru Grade of a D+.