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Recliner Reviews | Two out of three science-based movies worth a watch

Jonny Weston in “Project Almanac.”
Jonny Weston in “Project Almanac.”

“The Lazarus Effect”

Every once and awhile, you get a film with a young/promising cast, and you think…this is a no-brainer. Mark Duplass is not only an actor, he’s a talented writer/director/producer of movies and TV shows. The beautiful Olivia Wilde has decided to largely pick roles with substance instead of relying on her looks alone.

The supporting cast has decent resumes – Sarah Bolger, Evan Peters and Donald Glover. It does seem a bit odd when an esteemed documentarian, David Gel, is directing a thriller about medical students bringing patients back from the dead.

But all the acting aptitude and all the filmmaking prowess can’t save this dud. The script rushes through anything smart ideas it has just to get to all the stuff you’ve seen before. The direction adds nothing new, and the actors’ talents are wasted. This one should be left flatlining – pass.

“Project Almanac”

We move on to another thriller based on science. This time it’s time travel and teenagers. It’s all fun and games until you cross the timelines and a butterfly effect occurs.

This one is produced by Michael Bay, helmed by debut director Dean Israelite and uses the “found-footage” concept.

Usually, this combination would be a shaky-cam death sentence for a movie, but Israelite seems to know his limitations and obstacles. Although it’s not always realistic, the use of hand-held video cameras is done in smart and unobtrusive ways.

The young cast plays well together. The story pulls itself tight by progressively picking up speed and making you pay attention. They even pay ample homage to the “Back to the Future” trilogy. It’s not the best film about time machines ever made. Hell, it’s not even in the top 10, but it is worth a watch.

“Time Lapse”

Finally, we jump to our last flick concerning science. This time it’s a camera that can take pictures of the future. Most of the film exists in the development of three characters played by Danielle Panabaker, Matt O’Leary and George Finn.

Small casts usually result in a taut thrillers. Well, the steam-punk camera sort of acts as a character as well because it’s the size of a small furnace and spits out Polaroid snapshots that propels the plot from bad to worse to really bad.

This is director Bradley King’s first feature film, and he hands up a nice little piece of gritty noir. It’s a smart use of technology, and humanity is always close at hand. The story bends to suit the genre. The acting could be stronger at times, but it’s far from distracting.

Don’t have a lapse in judgment – this one is worth a watch.

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