PROJECT ALMANAC REVIEW

Project-Almanac-poster

21 and Over meets The Butterfly Effect. And believe me, I’m making it sound more interesting that it was.

It’s not all bad. In fact, it was quite watchable.

BUT then again . . . How many times have I used that old chestnut?

So what’s it about? A group of teens discover secret plans of a time machine, and construct one. However, things start to get out of control.

As soon as the opening sequence began with that inevitable and irritating shaky handheld camera, I sighed.

However, despite the disorienting camera work, it zipped along.

It established the geeky characters quickly with a humourous segment that you’d expect to see more on The Gadget Show than in a feature film.

The first 20 minutes was corny but set up Jonny Weston’s David (Chasing Mavericks) as he desperately tries to earn a scholarship at MIT while dealing with trying to woo the girl that doesn’t know he exists and blah blah blah.

Geeks trying to get laid and fall in love. The usual guff.

That is until . . .

David finds an old home movie of his 7th birthday party and catches his “present day self” walking in the background. Cue the rest of the movie.

“So you’re telling me. Dad left a time machine in the basement”.

The premise is ridiculous and full of plot holes BUT what I will commend is that the cast don’t take it too seriously. A weakness that strengthens this film and makes it a lot more fun.

Stupid BUT fun. The acting is a little bland. Ironically on some of the more serious moments of the film.

The guys’ breeze through the scientific mumbo jumbo as much as possible. Something about temporal relocation aided with endless time travel movie references (Terminator 1-4, Looper, Back to the Future).

Oh and of course, let’s not forget the infamous Time Paradox chalkboard that magically appears in the room when the present day has suddenly changed dramatically!

The film did focus another 20 minutes on the gang fixing said time machine. The geeky gadgetry sequences were interesting enough. The things you can do with an Xbox 360, huh?

The material hunting wasn’t bad with our nerds breaking into their own high school to steal hydrogen.

The only thing I thought was a little silly. David states to his sister to record everything. Is it a good idea to film yourselves breaking into public property and stealing expensive chemicals in the name of science? Hmmm . . .

The visual effects with the time travel tests was brilliant. Mini tornadoes in water. Tools melting. Various items fusing in the walls.

In total, it’s a good 45 minutes before the gang even actually time travel. Luckily it’s all easy going enough.

When they do time travel, the experience is quite disorienting. The camera work did my eyes in.

It does get a little corny but quite funny. The fact the gang are rejoicing that they travelled back to yesterday was hilarious.

Worried about distorting reality or changing the fabric of time? Nah, all they did was accidentally steal a dog.

Of course, being teenagers, they use time travel to pass exams. Sam Lerner’s Quinn was quite memorable. The numerous attempts he had to take to pass his science exam was funny.

The teacher inevitably changing every question each time he travelled back. Brilliant.

The lottery scene was well done. Who wouldn’t use time travel to try and win it? It was great when the gang realise they wrote down the wrong number and only (I say only) won 2 million out of a 128 million jackpot.

Things do get a little more interesting when they meet their past selves. That’s where the film seems to jump start from its jittery easy going crawl.

Inevitably, there are always consequences when people mess about with the fabric of time. Even if their intentions are good (or a little shallow in David’s case).

I felt the film threw in some little subplots to fill in the void that should have been a meaty story line. Virginia Gardner’s bully plot line came out of nowhere. “You know Christina’s got that bully problem?”

Uh, no. I didn’t. A little payback was rewarding BUT it would have been nice to know why Christina was doing it in the first place. The punchline was badass though.

I felt the romance subplot between David and Sofia Black-D’Elia’s Jessie was so cringey and corny. Any sweeter and I would have vommed.

It’s all done with enough fun and cheesy stupidity to be watchable. The last 20 minutes does get a lot darker and frantic with the paradox effect rearing its ugly head.

The only problem is that after so many classics; Back To The Future, Twelve Monkeys and Doctor Who, the same old thing has to happen. The ever predictable timey wimey guff coming to a nauseating finale (and that was without the aid of the shoddy camera work).

The ending was dire. And to add insult to injury, the main character has the cheek to look at the camera with the cringiest closing line ever.

Give it a go if you’re fed up of re-watching the time travel classics BUT otherwise watch the classics.

2.5/5

If that final scene wasn’t in it, I would have caved and gave this a 3 (Just)!

Advertisements

FREE BIRDS REVIEW

da0dba87d95286d836e37ca60ab1e734_500x735

A few strikes short of a turkey with this one, I’m afraid.

A 90 minute mish mash of animated buffoonery that couldn’t even keep the kids in the cinema interested.

Two turkeys enter a time machine in a government facility and go back to the first Thanksgiving in the 16th Century to get their race off the menu. (Yup, you read that right)

After a fantastic 3D opening credit sequence, I could feel my interest wavering like the hammy plot line. We deal with the usual spiel of the loner turkey Reggie (voiced by Owen Wilson) who is rejected, from the farmhouse flock, for being different.

His constant urge to break the mould leads to his exile and a hazy plot involving a pardon from the President of the United States. Bizarre. I don’t mind sitting for 90 minutes with an animated feature BUT it has to be either; a) watchable, b) funny, or c) utterly bonkers. Free Birds misses the mark on all three.

The introduction of the renegade turkey Jake (Woody Harrelson) was a much needed boost. Harrelson delivered the silly lines with aplomb. It also delivered a good duo set up.

Jake needs Reggie’s help to save their race after receiving a prophecy from the Great Turkey and a Sacred Time knob (No, seriously. Not making this up). Leading to a mediocre adventure. The government facility sequence delivered the laughs for me and one of the silliest one liners;

“We have a contaminant. It’s a turkey. How do we address the situation?”

Response – “Uh, with cranberry sauce” (Bad, but it got me. No? Don’t watch it then)

However, once Harrelson and Wilson escape the facility (in a brilliant piece of animation) with the time machine named S.T.E.V.E. (Space Time Exploration Vehicle Envoy), voiced by none other than the legendary George Takei, the jokes fall sparse and flat.

Wilson’s comedy schtick failed to make an impression on the protagonist. He just came across as neurotic, whiny and annoying. When the featherheads travel back in time, it didn’t get much better.

They go back to the 16th Century and discover a tribe of turkeys who run across trees and hide underground from the pilgrims (and surprisingly absent Native Americans) until the final minutes. The action sequences were very watchable and well executed.

BUT the promising duo set up between Harrelson and Wilson was soon torn apart by the usual love interest sub plot (Not even Amy Poehler could save the day with her feisty lazy eyed protagonist) and some stupid macho rivalry between Harrelson’s Jake and head honcho Ranger (Jimmy Hayward).

It stole a funny pairing and replaced it with an annoying one. At first, the rivalry did have its moments but it soon went on far too long. A stand off gag soon drolled out into a idiotic dance off. The more random skits that popped up in the piece surprised me more than the planned ones. A telenovela skit was unexpected but hilarious. Not even Dr Zulu with his patented phrase could save this dead bird.

And the turkey hunter. Apart from me wondering whether it was Ray Winstone voicing him for 20 minutes (Until I caved and checked the IMDB app. It wasn’t. It was Colm Meaney) was completely unmemorable and flat.

The 3D was not worth investing in at all. Another wasted opportunity. What annoyed me was that the film had a different, if ridiculous, premise that went nowhere. The story line was lazy. Filled with dreadful gags and animated buffoonery. The time travel aspect was barely touched on. And when it was, it was so lazily done and riddled with plot holes that I don’t know why they even bothered.

I know, it’s a kid’s film but come on? There are so many better family flicks out there. This was clearly just reaping the profits off the Thanksgiving season.

This really was a turkey, alright. It fell short on everything. I would invest in another movie for the little ‘uns.

2(Just)/5