Ever want to go back to high school and change something important? If only you knew then, what you know now, right? Project Almanac follows a group of teenagers who suddenly discover the power to go back in time and do things differently.
The movie is a bit of a time traveler itself, because it revisits elements of numerous past science fiction films that I’ve already been to. And like a time traveler, the film leaves little evidence of its own self in the places visited. I mean, I found myself thinking about Explorers, Chronicle and even The Philadelphia Experiment. And it’s hard not to compare this film to other time travel movies like The Butterfly Effect, Back to the Future, Looper, Terminator, and Groundhog Day. I’m not surprised though. When I first saw the trailer for this film, I immediately thought this was some modern take on the Sliders television series.
While the story may be unoriginal (and ultimately sloppy at the end), it is watchable. It centers on a high school senior named David Raskin (Jonny Weston), his sister Christina (Virginia Gardner), and his two friends Quinn (Sam Lerner) and Adam (Allen Evangelista). In the film, David has been admitted to MIT, but is unable to pay for the tuition. A search to find a scholarship-worthy experiment ends with David and Christina finding a video tape of David’s seventh birthday. Something on this tape eventually leads the group to some plans for a time travel device. Now with the power to change the past, the movie shifts to exploring the consequences of altering your previous choices.
Though the story failed to excite me, the cast performances were engaging. The four original main characters were different and relatable in their own ways. And with the addition of Jessie Pierce (Sofia Black-D-Elia) into the group, they created a the social dynamic similar to…well…my old high school. Eventually, I began to think, would I act like these characters in a similar situation? Hell yeah! Would I have tried to fix what I broke? Probably not, because that’s life. Sometimes it’s just better to accept what isn’t prefect. But more importantly, I thought, if I had a time travel device, would I have gone back and got popcorn?
In the end, I give this film a 2.8 out of 5. It’s worth watching at least once. And for some audience members, it may be worth another viewing, if only to catch some of the details that we missed the first time. Hey, would that make us time travelers too?