Saturday, January 31, 2015

Project Almanac Review

Just over a year ago, I was sitting in the theater for some movie when I saw a trailer for Welcome to Yesterday. It was a time travel, found footage movie that had a pretty decent trailer actually and it was coming out that February. I decided that I was excited to see what this movie had to offer. Sure, it didn't seem totally epic, but I thought it had the potential to be a lot of fun. Then come February they pulled the rug right out from underneath me by postponing this movie at the last second for an entire year. Ouch! That was not very nice of them at all. I don't know what went on behind the scenes to cause this delay, but at some point during this delay, one of the things they decided to change was the title. It went from Welcome to Yesterday to Project Almanac. I even believe at some point it was called just Almanac before they threw the "Project" in front of it. That was weird. It took my mind a while to get used to this new name, and even though I am used to it, I still think I like the original title better. Anywho, after an annoyingly long wait it finally showed up in theaters, and, uh, well, whatever they attempted to fix during the delay didn't quite work out that well because this movie leaves a lot to be desired for.

First off I want to make one thing clear. There's a lot of people that will hate on this movie because of the found footage genre. It was once fresh and original, but now it's been done so much that people are just sick of it and thus they will rip any found footage apart just because it is done in the found footage style. I'm not that type of person. If done well I think that the found footage genre is a very effective style of movie making. Two great examples are the movies Cloverfield and Chronicle. I love and own both of those movies and in both cases the found footage genre is what makes the movie. I try to think of what those movies would look like without that style and I don't think they would be nearly as good. So no, I don't look at found footage as inherently bad. However, I do think that a movie that does found footage needs to do a dang good job of justifying them using the style. Because, come on, how many people honestly take out their camera and film every second of their lives just because something crazy is happening? Not very many. Thus when a movie tries so hard to justify their use of it, it usually comes off as forced and unnecessary.

I was really hoping that this movie would turn out like Chronicle and actually make good use of the genre. But unfortunately instead of being like Chronicle in its use of found footage, it's more like last year's Earth to Echo, which is a movie that could've been a fun movie, but one of the many problems was that it was found footage when it didn't need to be. In fact, found footage made that movie worse. Same thing here. I started this movie doing my best to like it, but we didn't get very far at all before I started to think about what the movie would be like it was shot normally. Honestly, it would've been a much better movie. So yes, the found footage hurt this movie quite a bit. Can you imagine would Back to the Future would've been like if it were done found footage style? Yeah, that sounds really weird to me, too. If you don't need to do found footage and you can in fact make a better movie without it, then don't do found footage. I hope all future movie makers are taking notes on that.

But ok, what about the actual movie itself? Had the only problem in the movie been the terrible use of found footage, that in theory could've been forgiven to a degree. But that's the problem. The actual movie itself isn't that good. It's a time travel movie that has every time traveling cliche in the book. I mean, think of every time traveling movie you've watched and put together the typical generic storyline for such a movie. I'm willing to bet that you would come up with something like this: people/person discovers a way to travel in time, they have fun with time travel for a while, something bad starts to happen, potential ripple effects happen that change the future, then because of this they try to figure out a way to make it so they never time traveled in the first place or they realize that life is good without time travel so they try to go back to normal. Right? Right. That's what this movie is to a t. No originality. Nothing unpredictable. Just bland, boring time travel. What makes it worse is that the movie spoils itself at the very beginning. The whole premise is that the main kid watches a video of his 7th birthday party and sees his current self in the mirror. The second you see that scene, you know everything that is going to happen and you're exactly right. Finally, these kids don't even do anything interesting with the time travel. I mean, one kid wants to go back and ace a test, one girl wants to go get revenge on a bully, then they go to an Imagine Dragons concert. Stuff that teenagers would do with time travel at first. But I was hoping they would do more. You know, take the time travel to the next level? Nope.

So overall, Project Almanac is a movie that had a lot of potential. Chronicle proved that the found footage genre can be used very effectively, even when the story surrounds a group of teenage kids. Project Almanac went this direction and even had a time travel premise that they could've done amazing things with. But they don't. This movie isn't unwatchably bad. I'd much rather go back and re-watch this than some of the other movies I've seen this month. But the problem is that this has so much potential that it just throws away for a boring, predictable, safe, cliche time travel movie that gives the found footage genre an even worse name by completely misusing it. I waited a long time for this movie. I was even to the point where I decided that I was excited for this movie. I wanted it to be good. I tried to like it. But I have to be honest. This movie isn't that good. My grade for Project Almanac is a 6/10.

1 comment:

  1. I was nauseous after only 5 minutes. The shaky cam was ridiculous in the beginning. They toned down the camera jerking as time wore on, but not enough for my taste.