Project Almanac

Project Almanac poster.jpgI’m a softie for time travel movies above most other science fiction themes. I stumbled upon Project Almanac channel surfing last week on a day off, so I stuck with it.

David Raskin, hopefully heading to MIT if the money can be found, notices his his 17-year-old self in a home video taken on his seventh birthday. He convinces his skeptical friends to sift through his deceased father’s basement man-space. They find plans and components for a time machine. And soon enough they get it working.

I think it requires some suspension of belief that an inventor would be working on such a project in the middle of suburbia, or more that a gifted high school student could make the thing work. But the rapid pacing of the early film and it’s “found footage” feel–from David’s sister’s video cam gloss over that obstacle.

As the movie progresses, David and his four friends make a pact to travel together. They win the lottery, one of their members eventually aces a key chemistry test, and they enjoy a festival rock concert three months in the past. But they begin to notice that bad things happen in the “changed” timelines. Especially when David breaks their agreement and travels solo to get a do-over with the girl he loves.

So here are the plusses:

  • The time travelers don’t go back to big historical events–they are limited to more recent do-overs and adventures.
  • I thought the young actors did a creditable job with the material and their cadre and deepening bonds is believable and puts a human face on a story that could be rather abstract.

My problem:

  • Too often, there’s a science fiction premise that you can’t fool around too much with the universe or bad things will happen. It’s like God somehow gets angry with these uppity kids and starts punishing them for tinkering. I didn’t expect this movie to go that direction. I was expecting a plot twist connected with David’s dead father. It came, but with a resolution I thought was something of a cop-out.

Most of my adult friends might have some problems with this teen-centered film. But I thought the subject matter and relationships were all realistic. I doubt young people would find the treatment insulting. (But then, what do I know?)

The most original time travel treatment I’ve read this century is this one. The book, not the movie. Project Almanac had enough originality to hold my attention. Except for the divine punishment angle, I approve of this movie.

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About catholicsensibility

Todd lives in the Pacific Northwest, serving a Catholic parish as a lay minister.
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