Project Almanac - Are we accountable for our actions? - 2.75 stars

The bottom line is that time travel is allowed by the laws of physics.  Professor Brian Greene

Walking into the cinema...
I had no preconceived notions of this film. Is it a teen drama or a time travel narrative? Regardless of the genre, the moral dilemma of time travel has appeal. 
Overall rating: 2.75 stars 
Cinematic value: 2.5 stars    Family value: 3 stars

Plot Summary
Whether you are in high school or have lived through it, all seem to wish they could go back and change somethings about that part of their lives. Being in a different clique, asking 'that girl' out or even being better prepared for an exam. David Raskin (Jonny Weston) and his friends get that chance. They are the science geeks who look longingly after others lives, but almost miss the adventure that is in the basement. Through a series of events, they discover the plans for a time machine which they build and use. It seems to be the answer to all of their problems. Money, popularity, and love seem to be at their disposal. But the ripple effect of their actions lead to problems. They have to wrestle with the moral implications of their decisions and the effects on their families, the local community and even the world. 

        Project Almanac goes into the 'not great, but good enough' category. New director, Dean Israelite, does not seem to take himself too seriously with this film. This teen drama has whisperings of Chronicle, The Butterfly Effect and Weird Science. Originality is not high on the priority list, but working within this genre and adding time travel can make for good fun. The biggest challenge of the film is the the 'found footage' style of filming. It lacks believability and the camera usage leads to a suspension of reality. It makes sense for this band of friends who find a time machine in their house after being buried for ten years and then manage to build the machine, but who truly films every aspect of their lives? The story's lead up to the action is tedious, but once the machine becomes operational, things get interesting. This band of nerds find out that they have the ability to jump through time and do what you would think most teens would do with this technology. They win the lottery, get their revenge on bullies and they get the girl. The friends go through moral dilemmas that are humorous and challenging. As Israelite looks into the deeper consequences of the character's actions, this teen drama opens the door to life's big questions and adds a level of maturity to the story line. 
    The story will not win any awards, but overall it was a fun ride. The value of the film came down to the life lesson of understanding the far-reaching consequences of their actions. Their subsequent understanding that the life that we have been given comes with a cost. Not just a personal cost, but one that impacts the world around us, which seems to be the underlying message of the film. The content was rather tame for a teen drama. The typical language and sexual references for this genre, but there were no real surprises. Because this is marketed for teens, it would be easy to dismiss Project Almanac as trivial, but that would be unfortunate. The story opens the door to many questions about the human condition and could lead to some great conversations with friends and family. 

DVD Recommendation: 
Jonny Weston was the co-lead in Chasing Mavericksin a lesser known film that would be worth a look. It is based on the true story of the life of Jay Moriarity, the youngest person to surf the Maverick surf in Santa Cruz, California. Great story and a good film. 

Leaving the cinema...
Teen dramas, groan. It was my initial reaction and expectation. At the end of the film it was inevitable to think of a multitude of films that have told this same story better. But Project Almanac was a fun film that takes on some of life's bigger considerations and you could do worse.     

Reel Dialogue: What are the bigger questions to consider from this film? 
1. What does the Bible say about fathers and sons? (Matthew 3:17, John 5:19)
2. Where can true hope be found? (Jeremiah 29:11, Romans 12:12)
3. Is God limited by time? (Psalm 102:12, 24-27, Isaiah 57:15, John 4:24)

Written by Russell Matthews based on a five star rating system @ Russelling Reviews #russellingreviews