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Project Almanac: A Teenage Twist on Time Travel

Posted by cfeehan on June 8, 2015

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© 2014 Paramount Pictures Corporation. All Rights Reserved.

If you had the ability to go back in time and change one thing, what would it be? Would you go back and meet your hero, attempt to stop a major war, or save a loved one’s life? Now ask your 17-year-old self the same question. Project Almanac is a movie that explores the topic of time travel, but this time from the perspective of a teenager. I’m sure we can all agree that based on your adolescent priorities, you too would probably be less focused on changing the world and more focused on retaking that dreaded failed chemistry midterm, or getting a second chance with the girl of your dreams.

Project Almanac is a found-footage movie that starts off with David, the main character, filming a submission tape for MIT. It’s immediately clear that he’s an incredibly smart tech geek, but considering his family’s single-parent income (this becomes an important detail), he needs to submit an impressive project proposal in order to get a scholarship to afford university. Since his deceased father was an inventor, David and his sister begin to root through his things and come across hidden blueprints for a “temporal displacement device”, aka time machine. They enlist a couple of friends and build the machine, use it recklessly, and have fun for a while – until people start breaking the rules and things spiral out of control.

David and his friends Quinn and Adam are your typical hormone-driven high school boys, complete with a prominent geeky side. The first few minutes of the movie are packed with inappropriate comments about girls, zoomed-in stalker shots, and swear words, but the immaturity calms down substantially after the first fifteen or so of the movie.

The cast isn’t star-studded per se but features a few up-and-coming actors you may know.  Sofia Black-D’Elia, David’s love interest in the movie, appeared in All My Children, Gossip Girl, and The Messengers, while the actor who played David, Jonny Weston, is best known for his parts in Chasing Mavericks and Insurgent. The actors do a good job at playing their roles, but the characters themselves (other than David and his increasing recklessness) don’t have a huge amount of depth or development throughout the film.

Once you come to terms with the fact that the film targets young people and therefore explores topics that this subset of people would be interested in (going back in time to music festivals, to get back at bullies, to “get the girl”, etc), it’s really rather enjoyable. Yes, there are better ways they could have used the time machine, but for the age of the characters and the target audience, this is quickly forgivable.

The best part of the movie was hands-down the final half-hour. It was action-packed and full of tension, which is what I had been waiting for. Everything starts to get complicated, time lines get intertwined, secrets get revealed, and lives are even put in danger. Unfortunately, the very end of the movie left some questions unanswered (to put it lightly), which was disappointing. But for the most part, it finished well in my books. 

Overall, Project Almanac does a really good job of making time travel, an incredibly complicated theory, easy to follow for any viewer (even the technologically challenged ones). The movie has a lot of twists and turns, and although it can be a bit overdramatic at times, it was very entertaining and does a great job at appealing to its intended demographic.

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Caitlin Feehan, Blogger & Editor


Converse have been my footwear of choice for the past 9 years, I’m convinced that all doors and sidewalks are conspiring against me, and I enjoy sticking my head out of the passenger window on long car rides.