Blu-ray Review Project Almanac

'Project Almanac' Blu-ray Review: Teen time travel thriller a not-so-excellent adventure

June 15, 2015Ben MK

Feature Rating:  

Ah, time travel — it's the genre that's given us such films as Timecop, Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure and, of course, the Back to the Future trilogy. But what if you took the concept and gave it a "found footage" spin? That's precisely the premise behind Project Almanac, a movie from first-time director Dean Israelite that combines one of science fiction's most well-worn narrative devices with what's become one of cinema's most maligned clich├ęs — yielding mixed results.

The storyline is simple: 17-year-old David Raskin (Jonny Weston) is a prospective MIT physics student who discovers his late father's video camera in the attic of the family home. That, in turn, leads to an even more amazing discovery in the basement, where David and his friends find the components to build a temporal relocation device (or in layman's terms, a time machine). Naturally, they decide to try and get the contraption working; and soon David, his best buds, Adam (Allen Evangelista) and Quinn (Sam Lerner), the hottest girl in school, Jessie (Sofia Black-D'Elia), and his sister, Christina (Virginia Gardner), who also happens to be filming everything, are using it to fulfill a few of their teenage fantasies, including winning the lottery and exacting their revenge on a bully. Eventually, however, the ripple effects of their actions catch up with them, and David is forced to figure out how he can restore the timeline before the damage becomes irreparable.

It's a solid enough little premise. However, the movie itself never moves beyond being merely serviceable. Though the cast turns in credible performances, the script by screenwriters Jason Pagan and Andrew Deutschman never fleshes out their characters enough to make them worth caring about. Instead, it simply moves from story beat to story beat, keeping the proceedings teenager-friendly, all the while maintaining a visual style that serves no intrinsic purpose other than to make events feel more exciting than they really are. Sometimes that strategy works, but most of the time it doesn't. The bottom line is that if you're looking for a worthwhile time travel flick, there are better ones out there. Project Almanac is a decent diversion, but aside from its main gimmick, it has nothing to offer audiences that they haven't seen before.

Audio/Visual Rating:  

Despite its shortcomings, Project Almanac does look quite excellent on Blu-ray. Colors are bold and well-saturated; contrast levels are strong but never overbearing; and the image is clear, boasting subtle film grain and an abundance of fine detail that can be seen in such things as the faces of the actors, their clothing, and the debris fields that swirl around them when the time machine is activated. Black levels are also robust, though at times they can be less than ideal, taking on a slight greenish tint. But at least the handheld camerawork proves not to be a distraction, and doesn't undermine the quality of the image. The movie's DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 soundtrack offers up a similarly pleasing experience, providing crystal-clear dialogue and making good use of the surround channels to place viewers right in the middle of the action.

Extras Rating:  

Paramount's two-disc Blu-ray release includes a DVD and an iTunes/UltraViolet digital copy of the film, plus the following Blu-ray extras:

  • Alternate Opening (3:29)
  • Deleted Scenes (9:11) - A collection of eight deleted scenes: Adam Plays Baseball, Scholarships, Cafeteria Kiss, Fundraising, Adam Made The Team, Predicting The Pitch, Rooftop Fight and Quinn Confronts David.
  • Alternate Endings (4:46) - Two alternate endings: Alternate Ending 1 - Going Somewhere and Alternate Ending 2 - My 7th Birthday.

Project Almanac is available from Paramount Home Entertainment as of June 9th, 2015. The Blu-ray features DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 and 5.1 Descriptive English audio, as well as French, Spanish and Portuguese Dolby Digital 5.1 tracks. Subtitles are presented in English, English SDH, French, Spanish and Portuguese. The film's runtime is 1 Hr. 46 Mins.

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