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July 23, 2015
Project Almanac Blu-Ray Review
Cinema Release Blu-Ray Release Distributor Director
19/2/20158/7/2015ParamountDean Israelite
Video Codec Sound Format OFLC Rating Star(s)
AVC MPEG-4DTS-HD MA 5.1MJonny Weston


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With the time travel device in Project Almanac.

With a little known cast and first time director in Dean Israelite, Project Almanac is a film that is primarily sold on its premise of time travelling teenagers. It is also being sold on one of the Producers names which is slapped on the back of the Blu-Ray box. Still, when that producer is Michael Bay (Director and Producer of the Transformers films) it's probably not a surprise his name is so prominent in the marketing for this film (the Executive Producer Josh Appelbaum doesn't rate a mention). So we mentioned the premise of the film is important, so what's it all about then?

Brilliant high school student is a genius with technology but when he misses out on a scholarship to MIT he goes looking for another project to take on, but soon discovers plans for a machine that can send he, and his four friends, back in time. The possibilities seem endless, but by changing the past, they have threatened the future of our world. Can they undo the damage they have unleashed before it’s too late?

So this is a film which focuses on time travelling, not exactly the most unique storyline we've ever seen and it's certainly not up there with the brilliant Bruce Willis starring film Looper or the "changing timeline" series The Butterfly Effect. Having said that this is a film where you can simply turn your brain off, and enjoy the exploits which a group of teenagers get up to when they can time travel. Failing a class in school? Simply travel back with knowledge of the questions being asked in class. Want to go an epic concert? Why not hit up Lollipalooza. Oh, and of course you'll want to rig a lottery to get some cash. It's all there, and is presented in a way which keeps the film ticking over and presented in an entertaining manner.

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Sofia Black-D'Elia in Project Almanac.
While the cast are made up of fairly unknown young actors, each performs their roles well enough. Jonny Weston (best known for his roles in Insurgent and Taken 3) plays the lead David Raskin who is the genius of the group. Sam Lerner as Quinn, Virginia Gardner as Christina and Allen Evangelista as Adam are all fine actors that embody their teenage characters however, for us, it was Sofia Black-D'Elia as Jessie that manages to shine on, and light up, the screen whenever she appears.

Now we come to my biggest gripe about the film and all I can say is "Argh! Not again!". Here we have yet another found footage type film which really irritates me. Sure, I can see the appeal, but it's been done so many times that it just becomes an annoyance for the amount of headache inducing shaky footage. Fortunately the director finds quite a few moments when he has the teenagers put the camera down to film from a distance giving us some relief, although it also seemed a bit odd for the character to put the camera down at certain moments.

Ultimately while the film is a little sluggish for a while, when the time travelling starts the film amps up considerably but it's the last 20 minutes that saves this film with enough tension and thrills to move this up from a film to avoid, to one worth a watch - especially if you're of the younger generation.

Despite the large amount of shaky-cam footage in this film, the transfer to Blu-Ray for Project Almanac is actually pretty decent. I guess, 10 years into the life of the Blu-Ray format and 1080p video being standard that should be a given, but we still see some clunkers but that's not the case here.

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Checking out the weird happenings.
The film is presented in the original 2.40:1 theatrical aspect ratio and has been encoded using the AVC MPEG-4 format. Checking the stats on the film at various moments saw a bit-rate that often sat well above 30Mbps which, as one would expect, means there is plenty of detail in this image and this is retained in darker scenes. If we are to level one criticism at the film it's that contrast levels are occasionally off (have a look at 1:00:25 for example), but that could also be a result of the original cinematography, or indeed using digital cameras for filming.

Project Almanac is presented on Blu-Ray with a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track which is a pretty lively track especially when the group time travels and the surround sound channels kick in. At one point in the film the group travel to the Lollapalooza concert which sounds absolutely phenomenal however when the dance music kicks in at 1:08:05 the bass absolutely thumps and will have your room shaking (assuming you have a decent sub-woofer).

Other audio tracks on this disc - and there are quite a few - include and English Audio Description Track, as well as German, Spanish, French, Italian and Japanese Dolby Digital 5.1 tracks each of which is encoded at 640kbps.

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Being pursued by the police.
Subtitles are available in a swag of languages as well including Danish, German, English, Spanish, French, Italian, Japanese, Dutch, Norwegian, Finnish, Swedish and English for the Hearing Impaired the latter of which was accurate to the on-screen dialogue.

This is a pretty bare-bones release with only the lightest smattering of extras consisting of alternate or deleted scenes.

Alternate Opening (3:29/HD): Nowhere near as entertaining as the opening in the actual film this one just has David sitting at a desk in his room doing his MIT application video followed by an experiment in his house. Much prefer the version in the film although it is pretty funny.

Deleted Scenes (9:11/HD): There are eight deleted scenes presented here "Adam Plays Baseball", "Scholarships", "Cafeteria Kiss", "Fundraising", "Adam Made The Team", "Predicting the Pitch", "Rooftop Fight", and "Quinn Confronts David". Given the film already runs for 105 minutes it's clear most of these were cut for pacing or offer inferior takes of included scenes.

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Jonny Weston stars as David in Project Almanac.
Alternate Ending (4:46/HD): Two alternate endings are featured here neither of which is as solid as that in the finished film.

For most people Project Almanac will be a pretty forgettable film, however we had a bit of fun with it after a while and the ending makes it worth the time - just. The audio visual transfer is solid enough while the release does lack any substantial bonus content. We suspect this is one more for younger movie watchers.


Review By: Dave Warner


Note: All images in this article are Copyright© Paramount. They are only indicative of the movie and not sourced from the vastly superior Blu-Ray disc format.