Project Almanac online movie review - A Tired Premise, Laughable Characterisation and Found Footage All Make 'Project Almanac' an Utter Failure
'Project Almanac' has all the hallmarks of a Michael Bay production; stolen ideas, annoying characters, an excessive runtime, bad directing and shameless product placement.
Many of these factors can be attributed to another produced Bay film which came out in 2014, 'Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles'. I will be fair to this film; the trailer intrigued me enough to want to seek this one out in the cinema. Until I saw text that read 'from producer Michael Bay' then I shuddered in horror, I had signed myself up for an appalling experience in every sense of the word.
Do you remember when found footage became its own genre in 1999 with the tense, scary and nerve wracking experience in horror which was 'The Blair Witch Project'? Then it became stretched to breaking point with the atrocious 'Paranormal Activity' series which matches only how tedious it is by its laugh ability. 'Project Almanac' tests the same limits with science fiction replacing horror. I hope with all my heart that this trend stops and soon.
In 'Project Almanac' we follow several teenagers, one of which locates his dead father's secret; a time machine. Groovy! Well no it is anything but. Let me elaborate. It was an original idea in 1985's 'Back to the Future', heck it even worked for 2012's 'Looper', but alas not here. There are many different reasons why and that is because the concept itself feels tired and dated. It tries to unforgivably and to its own error rip off plot points from last year's 'Edge of Tomorrow' but to no avail; like having to relive a day or event again and again. But most mind numbingly of all, it copies the exact same ending, only with a slight variation upon it. No doubt hoping audiences will not notice. I am sure that most will.
The key problem with 'Project Almanac' is its story. Now this would not present as much of a problem if it had somewhere interesting to go. The trouble is that when the group of dumb, sexist and annoying teenagers use it, they only do so for the most pointless and uninteresting ideas that have been done to the death already; such as winning the lottery, trying to win a girl's affections or just getting smashed like everyone else their age. It is only in the last ten minutes that they realise the full potential of the time travelling device and anything noteworthy actually takes place. They save lives. But this is not enough. It is almost like the film itself is asking you to walk straight out of the door. It references 'Star Wars' and 'The Terminator' series among others. Why bother with this film when you can watch any of these classics rather than this repugnant film that gets passed off as film making. Words fail me to express my boredom with sufficient and appropriate detail. Nothing happens; literally nothing. Another key element to bring up now is that the camera footage is edited throughout each scene, the dialogue is clear and the focus is alarmingly accurate! I'm not too sure that this was filmed on a cheap video camera. But this is a minor flaw in a film filled to the brim with them.
The acting is poor and painful to watch. The lead actor just lurches from scene to scene with no real purpose or intent. He just looks lost. At least the lead actress is passable. But we should not have to put up with this level of amateurish acting, it is sad that this is what Hollywood has devolved into. The film refuses to end and seems to ask itself the question; is there any point in this being filmed? Well to pad out the runtime for one. It is unbearable and never ending at just over 100 minutes in length.
Perhaps one of the worst offenders in this film is its product placement that makes no sense in the slightest. The products are always facing directly towards the camera. What is most annoying though is one particular shot that slows down time just so the audience can catch a glimpse of a red bull can. This is soulless filmmaking with no purpose other than to steal your hard earned cash. It even has a chance to bring up social media. Because that's what the director has been told that teenagers like and have an interest in.
Obviously this is a found footage film. So there is going to be shaky camera present in the film. However, it is shot to levels where you cannot tell what on earth is going on. I truly wanted this film to end. There is no point to any of it all.
'Project Almanac' joins the ranks of vile found footage films like 'Paranormal Activity'; featuring no character development, a lack of an interesting plot and a plodding run time that will test the patience of even the most devoted film goer. Devoid of art, heart, meaning, soul or a point, 'Project Almanac' is a cynical exercise with only two things in its limited mind; to waste your time and money. My only wish is to go back in time to forget my experience of 'Project Almanac'.