Tame time travel
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 The ending is one of the better bits, but its logic is laughable, and it can’t save Almanac from being chronically out of date.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!”