Project Almanac Blu-ray Review

Project Kiss the Girl

The thrilling (not really), life altering (definitely not) consequences of high school dating are explored in Project Almanac, a “my first time travel movie” which falls unnoticed into the overflowing canyon of young adult sci-fi. At least these kids don’t open the door to an apocalypse and have to fight one another to escape a maze.

Any teen would use time travel in Project Almanac’s way: Going back to missed concerts, retreating to study for failed exams, romancing the school’s popular girl. They’re all too predictable in their actions and as such, so is this movie.

Tireless exposition works overtime in this one, acknowledging the absurd overuse of cameras for the found footage schtick and pulling together a time machine from an Xbox 360. David’s (Jonny Weston) electronics scrounging is made marginally convincing by the high school senior being brainy enough for MIT, pulling in geeky childhood friends to complete the mammoth project sans anyone else noticing.

But Project Almanac is not a film about pre-time travel logic goofs – post-time travel offers plenty. All of these stories catch themselves in a gap. Butterfly effect symptoms cause traumatic instances, such as the Varsity basketball captain breaking a leg, a likeable teacher being let go, or stock footage from the movie Flight being shown on a laptop.

It is interesting as far as the concept will let it be. Kids are kids. Project Almanac closes on an eye-rolling, obligatory metaphor to finalize their future. Embedded too is the work of the camera generation, with GoPros and smartphones endlessly cued to visually document the advent of time travel. Such a camera system is either obnoxiously bouncy or precisely professional; never is the situation appealing or logical to watch.

Project Almanac’s rules prevents any interesting observations on recent history.

Outside of those technological parameters, Project Almanac depicts how little youth has changed. Provide teens time travel in the ’60s, and they would be chewing through pop rock concerts, re-taking tests, and making things right with girls. Project Almanac’s rules – keeping the kids locked to a restricted period of time – prevents any interesting observations on recent history. Project Almanac is cliché specifically to avoid any wide reaching dramatic consequences. It’s easy popcorn filmmaking to keep the narrative locked to Everywhere High School in Everywheresville, USA. Thus, it’s also not particularly interesting.

Project Almanac is blinded, apolitically dull without any gusto for a cinematic exploration of current issues affecting this generation. Casting a character with MIT potential generates no enriching thoughts or parable. He simply chases his hormones, no MIT required. Mentions of killing Hitler upon the machine’s potential are done in jest; Project Almanac is not even relevant. Given the opportunity, would these kids impacted by 9/11 at their young age attempt to console themselves by wiping it from their memories? That would be a grand consequence to explore. But this? This is a mild, fluffy story about a girl which could have been done without a time machine.

Movie ★★☆☆☆ 

Finding the machine @ 17:13

Noticeable immediately is a faux grain filter slapped over the screen for every shot of Project Almanac. If this is meant to be noise, the consistency is then in question. Whatever the reason, it is an illogical decision.

Certainly captured on a number of digital cameras, the visual quality flip-flops between sources at regular intervals. For the majority though, Project Almanac is pleasingly rendered. Facial definition is notable, sharpness is high, and resolution is impressive for something (supposedly) captured on a phone.

Coloring is kept natural. A small uptick in saturation is held for some concert scenes meant to instill some happiness into the image. Otherwise the post-production work seems minimal.

Project Almanac primarily takes place in a basement at night. Black levels become crucial and with one brief exception, are pleasingly thick. Depth is strong and contrast is bright. For found footage, this movie is more of a looker than most.

Video ★★★★☆ 

The time machine itself is the audio highlight, producing an electrical hum whenever present. At peak power before a jump, the LFE is mighty powerful. Likewise, the wind which is kicked up spreads into all channels to keep the full soundfield active. Scenes during a live concert have plenty of oomph too, keeping natural acoustics around for the duration.

Other, minor moments include hospital and school ambiance to maintain a sound space. A party is a background event as the kids decipher blueprints to the time machine, with loud music traveling between channels as the camera moves around.

Audio ★★★★☆ 

All of the bonuses are deleted scenes, with two alternate endings (one being better than the finished product), an alternate opening, and eight separate deleted scenes.

Extras ★★☆☆☆ 

Full disclosure: This Blu-ray was provided to us for review. This has not affected the editorial process. For information on how we handle review material, please visit our about us page to learn more.

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Click on the images below for full resolution screen captures taken directly from the Blu-ray. Images have not been altered in any way during the process.