10

I just watched the movie "Project Almanac." I kind of understood everything, I guess as much as a person can understand a time travel movie...until the end.

David destroys the Circuit, clear box, cube, or whatever you want to call it, ten years in the past. That box was the key to the time travel machine.

As a result David zaps ten years forward to the moment he and his sister are digging through the attic looking for something David can use for a project to get a scholarship to MIT.

Why would he go to that moment?

But the more confusing part is that if that timeline just gets destroyed and David ends up zapping ahead to 2015, why are there two video cameras there?

Why wouldn't the video camera he brought ten years in the past never exist just like the version of himself that brought the camera never existed? Even Star Trek is more consistent than that and comes up with a temporal distortion, subspace field, or something to explain a situation like this.

Is the implication that they are going to build a time machine again? I think it is. How can they build it without the clear box?

I really don't understand the two camera's part.

I really want to understand the last three minutes of the movie (before the closing credits).

Edit 7/16/15: Since there is some confusion as to what we actually see occur on camera at the end of the movie, here is what happens:

1) David takes off his backpack and sets in on the floor.

2) David unzips his backpack.

3) David is holding a single cube that he sets into a metal trashcan.

4) David is sitting on a table, now his backpack is on the table to the right of him, he throws a match in the metal trashcan.

5) As the trashcans flames go up, it starts to show everything that they did being undone.

6) As that goes on David starts to flicker.

7) The backpack is no longer on the table but David still is.

8) It shows more footage of things being undone and David flickers more.

9) There's an empty table no David, no Backpack, no Camera, nothing.

10) Beginning of the movie except two cameras now in the attic.

At least that's what I just saw and I watched that scene at least five times. I'm not sure if the backpack disappearing before david is simply an error in the footage. I don't know if he burns one cube, both cubes, or which cube. He does bend down to get the cube, so one would think it's the one from his backpack on the ground, but it could be the one from the floor, or him placing the second one in, and we just don't get to see the other cube being placed in the trash can.

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    @Richard - why would somebody downvote this question, is it inappropriate in some way? – JMFB Jun 14 '15 at 8:02
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    As to downvotes, it's a bit broad, maybe? – Valorum Jun 14 '15 at 8:07
  • @Richard Now we're at 3 upvotes, 3 downvotes, 1000+ views, 7 answers, can you explain to me since you're the most experienced user and also a moderator of the site, the 3 downvotes and only 3 upvotes? – JMFB Jul 4 '15 at 6:26
  • I still think it's a bit broad. You're not looking for a definitive answer to a question, you're looking for a synopsis. Not off-topic, but also not the best fit for this site. – Valorum Jul 4 '15 at 8:00
  • @Richard 2700+ views, +4, -3 for a total of +1. 9 answers given. IDK seems like it's a good fit. Still don't understand lack of votes. To me if I read a question and it looks like a good question or a good answer I upvote. Sometimes I'll upvote more then one answer. – JMFB Jul 16 '15 at 2:06

12 Answers 12

3

I agree with Keen that it doesn't seem internally consistent, but with a bit of mental gymnastics I think it might be possible to rationalize it in-universe:

  1. Paradoxes:

    According to the rules established within the film, paradoxes result in a sort of "feedback loop", followed by the offending object being simply deleted from the timeline at the earliest instance of the paradox.

    For instance, when Jessie sees her past self at the party, she is deleted from the earliest point (the party), and is just missing from that point on. This doesn't affect anyone else, though logically we'd think it would cause cascading paradoxes.

    So, that's the rule: only the offending object is deleted by the paradox; all other objects remain the same.

  2. The Ending:

    Now that we've seen how the movie handles paradoxes, we come to the ending-- David destroys the plans for the Core, then vanishes. It's possible that he vanished because he caused a paradox, and he was simply deleted. Since the camera was sitting on a table at the time, and external objects are not effected by paradoxes, then the camera would remain.

    This is the only time we've seen paradoxes occur between an person (David) and an inanimate object (the Core/plans), so it's possible that only the fire was deleted, or all motions starting from uncovering the Core's hiding place in the past (since leaving it uncovered would prevent him from discovering it in 2015).

  3. Two Cameras:

    The camera that he left on the table would remain even after David himself was deleted, and we don't know how much was filmed using that camera instead of cell phones, etc. If he also left his cell phone sitting on the table for whatever reason, then his mother would probably put it in the box with the camera, and David would now have access to all footage recorded from either source...in which case the movie itself is the final version of events that he edited together from both sources.

Now, this is all just my best rationalizations based on what's presented in the film; personally, I think it's just a plot hole due to some lazy writing. However, half the fun of this site is finding in-universe explanations for out-of-universe complications.

  • thanks for your answer. I'm a bit confused by your logic. First the "paradox" that you're referring to only happens when a person actually sees himself and tries to communicate with the other incarnate of himself. Remember when Adam draws with a marker on his past self & the mark ends up on his neck? It isn't till the version of him in bed wakes up and confronts him that he starts to have a problem. I also believe that Davids backpack was on the table as well. Which means that a completed time machine would have been left in the past. I agree with the summation that its a plot hole. – JMFB Jun 16 '15 at 9:31
  • That's what I meant by this is the first instance of a paradox between a person and an inanimate object. Adam drawing on his sleeping self doesn't physically interfere with his ability to go back and perform that action. David destroying the Core would create a paradox, because then it would prevent him from ever going back and destroying the Core. If both he and the Past Core are deleted, then his camera and his bag (with the Present Core) would be left (if he left the bag on the table), and everything would wrap up with the final scene making sense: he has the camera, and the Core. – Liesmith Jun 16 '15 at 12:36
2

It doesn't seem internally consistent, so I'm not sure this is answerable. By destroying the machine in the past, David vanishes because the machine would no longer be hidden in the basement where they found it. Which in turn means they would never be able to build the time machine. So it makes sense that David would vanish, as he logically could no longer time travel to be then and there. However, if he was unable to time travel, then the camera also could not time travel, so it should have vanished by the same logic that removed David.

What we saw at the end of the film was the past. Early in the film, they discovered the camera, which in turn set everything in motion. Now that the timeline has been reset, we're seeing things happen again, from the beginning. The scene at the end of the film was that same time frame, David was searching for something in the attic to use on his scholarship application. He finds the camera, except due to the time travel, there's now 2 cameras. One is the camera they originally discovered, which shows current-David at young-David's birthday party. The other is what we've watched throughout the film, it's a chronicle of their time traveling.

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    Your first paragraph assumes a linear flow of time. It could be that by traveling back in time he alters the future but remains in chronological order with his own timeline, meaning he can make alterations without destroying his presence. This is somwhat supported by the explanation in the movie, but I'm not sure why the temporal timeloop is able to stop someone from existing the moment the past version of that person becomes aware of the future versions presence. – Parrotmaster Jun 15 '15 at 17:16
  • @Parrotmaster I don't see an alternative solution mentioned in your comment. – user1027 Jun 15 '15 at 17:44
  • @Parrotmaster I was wondering the same thing about why they couldn't exist in the same moment their other self was there. This also didn't make sense to me. – JMFB Jun 15 '15 at 18:13
  • @Keen Okay, so what you're saying is that it's inconsistent that David disappears and the camera doesn't? So it's simply a plot hole then? Also accepting the fact that there are two cameras and that one of them, an old style camera (doesn't it make sense that they're recording this from cell phone camera's or modern camera's since that's what they had to use to film Davids palm controlled drone) filmed everything, and that they were shlepping this huge monstrosity around to all of their adventures (like the concert), and they have footage of the original plans, don't they still need the core? – JMFB Jun 15 '15 at 18:22
  • @JMFB AFAIK, yeah they still need the core. That was the piece of magic tech that actually enabled the time travel. All they built was the ability to power and control that core. David destroyed the original core 10 years in the past, so it's gone, they can't time travel in the present even though they have a record of their original timeline activities. – user1027 Jun 15 '15 at 18:26
2

reff: Project Almanac : Plotholes Explained There are many plotholes in this movie. One of them is the case of two cameras.

While all the points you mentioned are correct. Point number 9 isn't

  1. There's an empty table no David, no Backpack, no Camera, nothing.

Here Only David disappears from existence. The camera that is capturing David's disappearance somehow doesn't disappear. It simply lays there and runs out. This is the second instance of the camera in this timeline. The first instance is being used to capture the birthday party happening upstairs. Both of these cameras eventually reach the attic and sit there for 10 years till the David and Christina from the new timeline find the 2 cameras. One of the cameras has the birthday party and the other camera has a full history of all the events of the time travel that the gang does.

Well it doesn't make sense, somehow even though David who brought the camera disappears, the camera it self refuses to disappear and simply sits there. They even show the power running out on the camera but 10 years later it just magically starts up to play recorded footage.

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    I just wanted to mention that the icon on the camera at the end of the film that blinks is not a battery / power indicator, it is a VHS tape icon that indicates the camera tape is running out / out and in order to continue recording the tape must be replace. – Tyler James Harden Feb 14 '16 at 3:58
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What someone explained to me is that he did not burn the camera, therefore the camera was left behind with the original camera that was used to record the birthday party. So that means that both cameras ended up in the attic as time went by.

Some of the information contained in this post requires additional references. Please edit to add citations to reliable sources that support the assertions made here. Unsourced material may be disputed or deleted.

  • First of all welcome to the site. Just so you know the more quotes, authors/writers notes, in-canon references, etc. that you use, makes your answer better. Now to your answer...so then wouldn't david's cellphone also be left in the past, along with his clothes, his backpack, his built time machine in the backpack, etc. since none of those were burned either? Why would time differentiate between organic matter and machinery? – JMFB Jun 15 '15 at 18:27
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If the linear timeline theory is in play in the movie, which I believe it is, then there is no way it could actually be destroyed. Everything that we saw already happened, they were taping over it on the original camera that they found in the beginning, once David saw himself at the birthday party he never bothered to watch any of the footage past that point on the camera but as they are recording through out the movie you can see small, very short clips of things, like Jess in David's bed, that haven't happened yet in the timeline that we are seeing in the movie. It's an infinite loop. It all had already happened, the only thing that changed was the extra camera being left behind, which is the only part I can't make sense of. But there's no way he could've successfully destroyed it, it's like the movie The Time Machine, the guys fiance gets killed so he makes a time machine to go back and save her, but no matter how many times he goes back she always ends up dying in some shape or form, he created the time machine because she died, therefore she will die every time he goes back because if she didn't he would never have built the time machine. Same applies to this movie, it can't be destroyed just for the simple fact that he was there to destroy it in the first place.

  • But every time they go back in time they do affect the timeline. Remember how he kept trying to go back and change things and then he lost his girlfriend, then his best friend was in an accident. So he did effectively change things in the present when he made changes to the past. I'm not sure what you're saying is correct. Also he left his backpack on the table and it only shows him destroying one core, so in theory he might find a backpack with all his stuff in it, including a completed time machine, and the core his dad made in the floor. – JMFB Jul 17 '15 at 3:57
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At the end of the film after david destroys the core. It shows him and the fire vanish. Maybe he didn't vanish at all. Maybe he got up. Tidied up the mess from the fire and then left the basement, leaving the camera running, unable to return to the present and stranded. From our viewpoint he disappears but what actually happens is the movie cutting forward to a later moment of the camera footage. It's already been established that changes to the timeline don't affect the time travellers, hence david being the only one not aware of the plane crash that happened as a result of his first solo excursion. The present day david after leaving the basement would have to find somewhere quiet and stay out of history's way whilst the david of the past goes about his life until we next return to him, in the attic finding the camera. He didn't transport back to the future at all, the reason we next see him in the attic is because that is the next time he is influenced by the previous events of the film. Showing him at any prior point in his life would be irrelevent. Somewhere there is probably another version of david in his late 20s who by now may have figured out how to rebuild and even improve on the core. Sequel anyone?

  • I like the idea of the camera footage simply skipping and he did not actually disappear from existence. On the other hand, IIRC wasn't he "flickering" just before he "disappeared"? Like Adam did when he encountered himself and was almost erased. Camera skip would probably not account for the flickering. – Remy Lebeau Jul 16 '15 at 4:32
  • I understand what you're saying but he only destroys one core, he leaves his backpack on the table, and as the fire grows he does disappear. Do you have any basis for your theory other than it's your opinion? Are there writers notes or something in canon to support what you're saying. If that's the case why would David leave both cameras lying around for his future self to find? Why did he only burn one core? – JMFB Jul 17 '15 at 4:00
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The ending makes sense because when David went back in time to destroy the core, he also destroyed the timeline that he traveled back in time from. Hence David never went back in time to destroy the core, nullifying his actions which meant the original core still exists, the friends would still be able to finish the time machine and the events would repeat. no matter what David does there is absoloutley no way for him to destroy the core and stop himself from time traveling back in time.

  • Welcome to the site. Great answer. I hope you enjoy your time here. – Wad Cheber Jul 16 '15 at 8:24
  • Yes I see what you're saying but throughout the movie when David makes changes to the past he ends up going back to his present and the changes he makes in the past do affect his present. So why would this change be any different. You're asking me to ignore the rest of the film and what happened before, right? – JMFB Jul 17 '15 at 4:06
  • yes basically. if david had successfully destroyed the core in the past without stopping what he had done. it will be like all the events in the movie never happened or even mattered. – Skullhammer123 Jul 17 '15 at 5:37
  • If David asks his dad to destroy the core of the past, then it does not exist in the future, so David cannot travel back to ask his dad to destroy the core, so it does exist, so he can travel back, ... – Remy Lebeau Jul 17 '15 at 15:51
  • Remy lebeau your right. there is no way for David to destroy the core no matter what he does. – Skullhammer123 Jul 17 '15 at 21:08
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They are not going to build a time machine "again", they are going to finish it for the first time.

Basicly, when you alter the past you alter the future. We saw the movie from an outsiders perspective, but to the guys in the movie, the entire movie never happened.

From their perspective, they walk into the attic and find 2 videocameras. Ofcourse, this is because he went back in time and took the videocamera with him, causing 2 to exist. This is why the first one (or "younger" camera) still has the original footage of his single time-travel journey. The "older" camera contains the footage of all the additional time-travel that they have done.

In the end it's mostly confusing due to how time travel works (or doesn't work). The most important part to remember is that the entire reality of the movie happens from the perspective of the people inside it. We are viewers from outside of their universe, causing us to "remember" things that didn't happen (or have been stopped from happening).

This is true for ALL time travel movies.

I can't give any in-movie details on how it works because time travel varies for all pieces of fiction and has not been explained entirely within the movie.

  • Thank you for the answer, but it didn't really clear things up for me. So he goes back ten years, meets his dad, has a video camera with him. He destroys his dads cube circuit thing. As it burns he disappears because he never built the time machine since he destroyed his dads cube. So now they put him for some reason back in the attic at the beginning of the movie, however there's two video camera's. Why are there two cameras? Can you give me a longer more detailed answer step by step answering my questions? – JMFB Jun 14 '15 at 8:58
  • @JMFB I'll edit my answer to have more details – Parrotmaster Jun 14 '15 at 9:10
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    1. How are they going to 'finish' the time machine when the core doesn't exist anymore? 2. Why did David vanish, but the camera remained in the past? – user1027 Jun 15 '15 at 17:46
  • @Parrotmaster I appreciate your adding some points. But again as Keen wrote there are two main points that need answering. Why would David disappear once he burns the core but the camera not also disappear? Why is David different then any of the other items he brought with him; his clothes, his cell phone, his backpack, the built time machine in his backpack, etc.? Also how do...even if they have an old school huge camera they've been lugging around with videos of the blueprints, how do they build a time machine without the core? – JMFB Jun 15 '15 at 18:31
  • @JMFB - Just saw this movie. My main question is what happened to David (Prime) the first time he went back to his birthday party? Why didn’t he (and young David) flicker out of existence when he saw his younger self (same goes for 2nd visit)? Further, why didn’t old David-Prime and old David-Alternate run into each other when at his birthday party, making a another case for old David-Prime AND young David AND old David-Alternate to flicker out of existence? – iMerchant Nov 17 '17 at 17:40
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I just watched the movie, and after pondering your question for a while, I came up with my own answer. When David destroys the time machine, I don't remember seeing him destroy the files as well. If the files have instructions on how to make it, it could possibly be remade, right? But seeing as the kids don't have access to all the materials and tools to remake it, I don't think that's what happened. I think the David that found two cameras sat down and watched the footage with his sister. Seeing as it shows them having a different version of the conversation he's just had with his sister, he assumes that whatever else happens in the camera is the future. So when he's seen approaching the lunch table and finishing the girl's sentence, he's able to do that because he watched the camera and assumed she would say the same thing, not because he time traveled.

  • That didn't really answer my question. Why two cameras? What happened from the moment david burned presumably one of the cores? – JMFB Jul 17 '15 at 4:13
  • If he only burned the core and not the files, the core could theoretically be rebuilt. Maybe not by his dad, who now understands the dangers of traveling, but maybe David and his friends will rebuild it when they find the plans in the future. It might take longer to gather the tools, materials, and expertise to match the original, but it could be done eventually. – Remy Lebeau Jul 17 '15 at 15:59
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When he destroys the old core back in time he is supposed to be stranded there older than all his friends and unable to return as he no longer has a working machine. However, that will not change anything from happening the way it already did again. Him becoming stranded and destroying one of two cores will not affect anything. What would change things up is if he interfered with his life by perhaps warning his father of the car accident, changing his "younger self's" circumstances like dropping off money for school, or somehow changing the flow of his "other" self. If he stays away from them (like in another town) and lays low then nothing will change and his "young" self will grow up and do the same thing and then there will be several older versions of himself going back to the past again and again in a loop. Versions of his self will grow up, have friends, build the machine, fall in love, lose their love, and try to fix it by repeating the same story.

But for some reason the movie makes it appear that he ceases to exist. Which doesn't make sense with the information we have available because, as far as we know, the only way that can happen is if one sees the earlier version of one's self. If he saw his younger self while his dad was saying goodbye because the door was open THEN he would disappear, the core would burn and not disappear miraculously, and his younger self would probably not end up being the same person after witnessing something so bizarre. Probably. The camera would remain since (as we learned from the car experience) inanimate objects don't suffer a weird feedback response. That's why it does make sense that another version of himself could grow up and watch the footage in the future and win the lottery again, help his friend pass his test, and help his sister be ready for the bully girl.

The only thing not adding up is his disappearance. Otherwise, everything is accounted for.

  • The only way to break the loop is for most likely someone in David's family besides his father to die so that the trauma is great and causes a drastic change in his life. The older version of David could kill his younger self causing him, too, to no longer exist. Or,his father doesn't die in a crash. If we know more about the father's situation it would shed light on why there's a loop. Again the movie doesn't make it a loop...but it should be logically. – Brandon Lockett Jul 16 '15 at 18:47
  • Also, assuming the footage is watched in entirety by his later self then they likely would not make the same mistake again and that too would end the loop. The machine can be rebuilt again using the instructions, parts, and blueprints. Only now they'll skip buying batteries and stuff. It all makes sense except for his disappearance. – Brandon Lockett Jul 16 '15 at 18:53
  • Yes except if his younger self interacted with his older self then both disappear out of existence as happened to his girlfriend. So that couldn't have been the flickering at the end. Also he only destroys one core that we see, not two cores. His dad may not have even brought the original core home yet. His disappearance is a huge thing. And why would he leave his backpack on the table and his videocamera if his purpose was to stop the time machine from being built in the first place. Wouldn't he take it with him to his other town? If so there wouldn't be two cameras in the reboot. – JMFB Jul 17 '15 at 4:10
  • I don't think his younger self would have seen his older self because when Jessie see's herself which creates a loop she goes missing (or disappears) from the point her youngest self saw her older(newer) self. If the same was to happen to David then theoretically he should go missing during his birthday party and he wouldn't be able to find his dad's camera(s) in the attic. – Mindthetic Dec 9 '15 at 1:09
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David didn't destroy the box that was in the basement floor safe. He destroyed or damaged the one he found in the future (David's present). So, he can go find it again and build it and re-do all they see on the video of their story.

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    These does not explain why he disappears. Destroying/damaging the future version of the machine should not have had that effect. – Remy Lebeau Jul 16 '15 at 4:29
  • Exactly what @remylebeau said. If he destroyed the one he's carrying with him then he's stuck in the past and he walks away with his backpack, camera, etc. no 2 cameras. If he destroyed his dads, then he never makes it presumably, so that timeline is destroyed, and no 2 cameras. If he destroys both then again he never could have made the time machine so again no 2 cameras. – JMFB Jul 17 '15 at 4:15
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David burns the core of the time machine, but burns the one that he brought with him from the future, not the original one that was on the floor, the one that is not finished yet.. So that means they can re-build the time machine because it still exists.

Some of the information contained in this post requires additional references. Please edit to add citations to reliable sources that support the assertions made here. Unsourced material may be disputed or deleted.

  • 1
    But why would burning the future core he brought with him cause him to disappear? It shouldn't, since it is from his own future timeline. If anything, burning that core would simply strand him in the past, since the past core still exists but is not functional yet. No paradox here. This is like Doc Brown getting stranded in the past when the version of the DeLorean that brought him to the past breaks down. – Remy Lebeau Jul 16 '15 at 4:20
  • Again, what remy said, see my comment in the above answer. – JMFB Jul 17 '15 at 4:17

protected by Valorum Jul 16 '15 at 21:48

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