Mini Reviews (January 2015)
7500, Project Almanac
7500 (January 24/15)
Directed by Takashi Shimizu, 7500 details the chaos that ensues after the title flight begins experiencing a series of spooky happenings. It's a promising setup that's almost immediately employed to less-than-engrossing effect, as Shimizu, working from Craig Rosenberg's script, has infused the proceedings with a dishearteningly deliberate and uneventful feel that proves disastrous - with the viewer's ongoing efforts at connecting to either the narrative or the characters stymied on a consistent basis. Shimizu's inability to offer up even a single compelling figure is nothing short of staggering, and it goes without saying, of course, that the film's talented cast is left floundering virtually from start to finish. (It's a shame, really, given that the movie boasts an impressive roster of performers, including Ryan Kwanten, Amy Smart, and Leslie Bibb.) And although the director throws in a handful of admittedly effective jolts, 7500 suffers from a pervasive lack of scares that's compounded by Shimizu's oddly coy handling of the movie's kill sequences (ie the viewer is never made privy to the horrific things witnessed by the various characters). The nigh interminable midsection paves the way for a decidedly anticlimactic finale, although, to be fair, it's hard to deny the effectiveness of the movie's twist ending. (This is despite the fact that said twist has been employed in countless other, better films.) It's ultimately not surprising to learn that 7500 languished on the shelf for years before getting a perfunctory straight-to-video release, as the movie is an out-and-out failure that provides little in the way of horror or thrills.
Project Almanac (January 29/15)
A found footage thriller, Project Almanac follows a brilliant teenager (Jonny Weston's David Raskin) as he and several friends build a time machine and subsequently start making small adjustments to their lives - with problems ensuing as the gang's various trips back eventually (and inevitably) begin affecting the past in unforeseen ways. It's clear that Project Almanac, though completely watchable from start to finish, suffers from an erratic feel that's compounded by a slightly overlong running time, with filmmaker Dean Israelite, working from a script by Andrew Stark and Jason Pagan, spending far too much time on the central characters' efforts at getting the aforementioned time machine working (and, eventually, their initial less-than-engrossing exploits using said machine). The charisma of the movie's protagonists goes a long way towards smoothing over the far-from-consistent narrative, however, and it's clear that Project Almanac improves considerably as it progresses - with the film's final half hour, which is devoted to David's increasingly frantic efforts at fixing his temporal mistakes, boasting a tense, fast-paced feel that's otherwise absent from the proceedings (ie there's finally something real at stake). And although the CW-level romance that dominates the movie is often as tedious as it is compelling, Project Almanac nevertheless establishes itself as a decent-enough time-travel thriller that'll almost certainly leave fans of the genre satisfied.