Project Al­manac

Tame time travel

SFX: The Sci-Fi and Fantasy Magazine - - Cinema -

Re­lease Date: OUT NOW!

12A | 106 min­utes Direc­tor: Dean Is­raelite Cast: Jonny We­ston, Sofia Black D’Elila, Amy Lan­decker

If you watch trail­ers

on­line, you may have come across this film ad­ver­tised a year back, un­der the ti­tle Wel­come To Yes­ter­day. Such a long- de­layed, out- of- sea­son re­lease sug­gests Project Al­manac must stink as much as, say, Timeline. But that’s not so. No, it’s just re­dun­dant, a mashup of loads of bet­ter films with no in­de­pen­dent life. Its USP is to do time travel with – wait for it! – found footage, plus a big con­cert scene for MTV Films. ( They were one of Al­manac’s co- pro­duc­ers.)

Nonethe­less, the leisurely first act is ac­tu­ally fair enough. Geeky David ( Jonny We­ston) is frus­trated at miss­ing a schol­ar­ship to MIT, when he dis­cov­ers the im­pos­si­ble. Find­ing a record­ing of his sev­enth birth­day party, he freeze- frames on his present- day self, lurk­ing in the back­ground. Next, he and his friends dis­cover the com­po­nents of a time ma­chine un­der the floor­boards, a le­gacy from David’s late dad, and the game’s afoot. The build- up is in­ter­est­ing, de­spite some an­noy­ingly mumbly tech­nob­a­b­ble. There’s a stress on the thrill of dis­cov­ery and the real dan­gers. The first time- trip is truly tense.

And then… the film be­comes a mashup. The ac­tion stays mostly con­fined to a few weeks in the kids’ av­er­age town. Their big­gest out­ing is not to, for ex­am­ple, Dal­las in Novem­ber 1963 but to the afore­men­tioned New York rock con­cert. There are a few smart touches, like David’s de­fen­sive geek­i­ness alien­at­ing his dream girl at a cru­cial mo­ment, and the way time travel is vi­su­alised through the cam­corder, images futz­ing and rip­ping through one an­other. Sea­soned SF fans can amuse them­selves play­ing the game of spot­ting which plot turn comes from where, in­clud­ing the re­turn of Doc­tor Who’s Bli­novitch Lim­i­ta­tion Ef­fect.

Those same view­ers, though, will find the film over­fa­mil­iar and un­der­cooked. Be­tween the timelooped par­ty­ing and the ho- hum twists, there’s lit­tle room for any in­quiry or in­ven­tion, any­thing that’s re­ally orig­i­nal. The end­ing is one of the bet­ter bits, but its logic is laugh­able, and it can’t save Al­manac from be­ing chron­i­cally out of date. An­drew Os­mond

A mashup of loads of bet­ter films with no in­de­pen­dent life

“Let’s go back in time and stop the Trans­form­ers movies!”

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