The next report card is for the latest film to take on the "found footage" concept: Project Almanac.
Project Almanac—directed by Dean Israelite; written by Andrew Deutschman (as Andrew Stark) and Jason Pagan; starring Jonny Weston (David Raskin), Sofia Black-D'Elia (Jessie Pierce), Sam Lerner (Quinn Goldberg), Allen Evangelista (Adam Le), Amy Landecker (Kathy Raskin) and Virginia Gardner (Christina Raskin).
I couldn't tell you all that much about these characters. Our protagonist is smart and handsome in that "he's good looking enough that it's okay for the hot chick in school to date him but not a 10/10 muscular stud" fashion that these films always go for (and I can't blame them for doing). Other than that, he's got no attributes. Adam is just someone for exposition. Poor kid. Jessie is pretty bland, being absolutely gorgeous and clearly not as smart as the rest, but hanging around to be the object of David's affection and not much else. For the life of me, I'm not sure how David's sister Christina was supposed to be the girl picked on in school when she's significantly hotter than the popular bitch character, so that was an oversight that was either not thought of at all or ignored in favor of cramming another sexy blonde in there. Kudos to Virginia Gardner for being that sexy blonde, but I'm not buying into your character being anything short of super popular if not just for her looks and how shallow people are in real life. The character with the most going for him is Quinn, who is definitely a highlight whenever he can shine. It's a shame more effort couldn't have been put into the other characters to help give some meat to these roles.
I'm not going to destroy these kids like a lot of people would. They did more than fine for what this movie calls for. They're supposed to act like teenagers, and I bought into the idea that they were each pulling their own weight as best they could with the given material. I'm not supposed to hate any of them and I don't, so they've avoided the obnoxious pitfalls that many other group teenage films can find themselves in.
VISUALS (FX, MAKEUP, COSTUMES, SETS): B
These are pretty solid, for the most part. There isn't all that much craziness to take into account in this movie, which makes it easier. The characters are normal people, the settings are just houses and such, and everything fits in rather well. I regret not paying closer attention to the 2004 high school scene to notice anything in particular outside of the older-generation cell phone. Those were the good old days of my high school tenure…
Before I get sidetracked too much with reminiscing, I do want to point out how the time travel was an interesting visual, even though it becomes overplayed and a tad annoying, so some points were subtracted for that reasoning.
MUSIC & SOUND: C–
This movie loses a lot of points for two main factors. First, since it has ties to MTV, there just had to be a crucial element to the film that is tied to a concert. Okay, I get it—teenagers love music and they would want to go backstage with VIP passes and so forth. That's not the problem here. The issue is that this comes off as "hey kids, aren't Imagine Dragons awesome??! Wooo!!!" Since that went on for far too long, it was a big detractor. Another problem was how this "found footage" film just happened to have composed music on top of it. If you want me to believe that everything I'm seeing is on the camera itself, don't throw a score in there that these kids never would have bothered to mix.
TONE (ACTION, ROMANCE, COMEDY): C
Movies like this aren't really built around any of these elements being a true strong point. There are aspects of all three that take place, but since they aren't marketed as being "an action movie" or "a comedic romp" or anything of the sort, it's expected that they will balance them out but not harp on any of them in particular.
ACTION: There's definitely some tension when it comes to the time travel mistakes, which is good, but it's nothing special. That's not a knock on it to say that it is necessarily bad. Rather, it's serviceable given the scope of the film.
COMEDY: I chuckled a couple of times. That's good enough, I suppose.
ROMANCE: There really isn't "romance" in this movie. Sure, David and Jessie are an item and Christina just happens to kiss Adam because why not, he's been perving on her and that's got to lead somewhere, right? But I have to cut the filmmakers a little slack knowing that the target audience is between 12 and 20 years old, so the average moviegoer isn't going to really question if the relationships are earned through genuine emotion and sacrifice or if they're just shoehorned together. They just want to see the cute girl and the cute guy involved in some way because it adds more tension when things go asunder.
FINAL GRADE: C+
Bottom line, this isn't a movie that is going to make critics pay attention, but it's a harmlessly entertaining flick to check out if you're interested in these kinds of concepts. If you liked Chronicle or Divergent or The Hunger Games or anything else similar, you'll probably like this. If you're between the ages of a teenager or your twenties and you aren't super pretentious about the movies you like to see, you might end up liking this. It's as unoffensive as you can imagine a movie like this to be and it's worth putting it on for a date night compromise between seeing some "guy's action film" that she would probably hate or some sappy "chick flick" romantic comedy that he would hate. For the most part, if you check out the trailer and you are intrigued, you should give it a shot, but just don't go into it hoping to get the leg up on the 2016 Academy Awards race.