I avoided seeing Project Almanac in theaters due to mixed reviews. With ticket prices skyrocketing, it costs a small fortune to see films at a quality theater and nobody wants to blow their hard-earned money to see a mediocre film. Now with its recent DVD release, there aren’t too many reasons for me to avoid it any longer, especially given my affinity for time travel films.
I think that the only way to review this film is to start off first by addressing the bad: it is shot as a found footage film, often very shaky, and has a few major plot holes in its narrative that leave you scratching your head after viewing. In fact, I re-watched the film immediately after my initial viewing to see if the plot holes were ever addressed. They weren’t.
Also, the ending reeks of a re-write – much like the theatrical cut of The Butterfly Effect.
Yet, given all of that, I still enjoyed the hell out of this film. The shots were stylized, often relying on quick cuts; the characters were likable, yet made really dumb decisions despite the fact they were supposed to be on the upper-echelon of the IQ curve; and the pacing was incredible, allowing the viewer to brush right past some of the aforementioned plot holes.
At its core, the film begs the question of what young people would do if given a power far greater than they should have access to. Of course, they use the time machine for things that seem of little significance to the world: getting good grades, defying their bullies, going to recent concerts that they missed, winning the lottery, and moving up the social caste system. Then, after one jump too many, timelines begin blurring and the negative consequences spiral out of control, often making very little sense.
I would not hesitate to recommend this film to any fan of time-travel films, despite the found footage framing device and the plot holes. Overall, it is enjoyable and feels like a time-travel mashup of Chronicle and Project X. Though it is unlikely that this will become a classic in this genre, it worth a viewing or two.