Sunday, May 17, 2015

'Project Almanac' Fails to Become the 'Chronicle' of Time Travel Movies

I always have high standards for time travel stories.  I expect them to be smart.  I want interesting time travelers that do interesting stuff in their time traveling, and clever set-ups made possible by time travel.  There should be a general adherence to the time travel rules it set – whether they are plausible or outrageous.  If it’s going to wobble a lot with its time travel logic, then, at least, the story should be engaging and enjoyable enough to compel my brain to turn off and just be overwhelmed by the fun.

I’m not fond of the found footage format of movie narrative.  It generally turns me off.  There are, of course, occasions that I liked movies that employed “found footage”, but it is more due to having good stories than due to the style.  I think, the only time I saw the found footage format being perfectly used to enhance the storytelling and cinematography was with last year’s Afflicted.

Now, for the first time ever, somebody decided to mix these two – a time travel story and a found footage format – and the result is Project Almanac.  I have to admit that when I got wind of the concept of Project Almanac, even with my distaste for the found footage format, I found it intriguing.  I don’t buy the argument that this movie is justified to use a found footage format so that, as a small budget production, it won’t have to worry of the subpar camera work (since how amateurish it will look is going to be justified by the realistic shakiness of a found footage).  Primer’s $2,000 budget proved that you don’t need a big budget to make a great time travel movie.  So if this movie decided to tell a time travel using the found footage format, it should mean that it’s primarily for the sake of creativity and doing something different – as if intending to become to time travel movies as what Chronicle was to superhero movies.

However, after watching it, I was disappointed by how it turned out.  Yes, it has its share of fun, sophistication, ingenuity, and intellect parts, but these fail to form an original, cohesive, and compelling time travel tale.  It employs cliché in its plot, and was boring and messy at times.  Worst, as expected, the use of found footage format did more harm to the narrative than good – it simply did everything I hated about it.

For what it’s worth, Project Almanac has enough good or passable parts to be watchable at least.  I simply had high expectations – since its premise is asking for such – that weren’t met.  It didn’t break ground with the time travel story nor with the found footage format, as it was obviously attempting.

No comments: