Sunday, February 12, 2017

Project Almanac: Primer with Found Footage and Soul

With Frequency concluded, and Timeless soon to be - for the first seasons, I hope, but likely for good - I thought it was time to watch a good time-travel movie, as prep for the lean times ahead.  Project Almanac did not disappoint.

On the surface, it has the trappings of Primer - that is, a group of young friends invent a time travel machine.  Almanac has a lot of the close intensity, low-budget feel, and philosophic flavor of Primer, but in the end - and in the middle, too - it is a very different movie.   But it could well become in years to come a cult classic, too.

Project Almanac partakes of the found footage ala Blair Witch Project subgenre of movie.   The action starts when 17-year-old David sees himself in the mirror - as a 17-year-old - in a video taken of himself and his family at his 10th-birthday party.  David's a budding inventor, his father apparently already was one, and 17-year-old David and his friends and sister soon find his father's schema for a time-travel machine.  (He father died in a car accident right after the fateful party).  They build it and use it, and David falls in love with Jessie (played by Sofia Black-D'Elia, of The Night Of, which makes two for two good performances I've seen from her), a girl in high school who already has eyes for him and encourages him to push the envelope.

The time-travel manipulations take the low-key path.  No one attempts to stop any assassinations or any world-shaping events.  The device can't send anyone back more than a few years at first, though David works to get it to go back at least 10 years to that birthday party, for obvious reasons. The young time travelers focus on getting money, better grades and prestige in high school, and, in David's case, correcting a blunder he made with Jessie so they can be in each other's arms.

But as in all cases of time travel with any profundity, even those relatively minor adjustments in the recent past have big, unintended ripple effects, including a plane crash.   David has to figure out a way of getting what he wants without those unintended literally disastrous consequences.

I won't say more, in case you have seen the movie, except the that ending is in many ways the best part, with the found footage motif playing a decisive and satisfying role.

more low-budget time-travel on Amazon
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