Rank ’em: Time Travel Movies

In honor of the ridiculously good Looper (Kurt’s review) being released this weekend, let’s talk about some other films dealing with time travel.

What exactly is a time travel movie, you ask? Well, I don’t know. Use your judgement on this edition of Rank ’em. It’s always silly and difficult and heartbreaking trying to do the meaningless task of ranking movies anyway. As for me, I’d call a movie a time travel movie if time traveling played a significant role in the narrative.

So, yeah, with that said, let’s rank ’em (although let it be know, I’m purposely leaving out Looper until I can watch it a few more times).

8. Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure (Stephen Herek, 1989)
7. The Time Machine (George Pal, 1960)
6. Time After Time (Nicholas Meyer, 1979)
5. Primer (Shane Carruth, 2004)
4. Time Bandits (Terry Gilliam, 1981)
3. The Terminator (James Cameron, 1984)
2. Back to the Future (Robert Zemeckis, 1985)
1. Twelve Monkeys (Terry Gilliam, 1995)

What am I missing? What do you disagree with? What time travel movies do you despise?

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Mythical Monkey
Guest

In addition to the ones you mentioned, time travel movies I liked also include Star Trek IV and Star Trek: First Contact, Midnight in Paris, Somewhere in Time, and I guess technically, the 1968 version of Planet of the Apes.

Oh, and of course, the Citizen Kane of time travel movies, Hot Tub Time Machine.

Jonathan
Guest

Nice choice on Midnight in Paris. I’d totally amend my list and have that on their had I thought of it!

Joseph B.
Guest

I’m a huge fan of two indie films that deal with time slips and doppelgangers pretty spectacularly: “Timecrimes” and “Triangle”

Andrew James
Admin

Yeah both of those are great choices.

Also “The Time Traveler’s Wife” is a good choice. The movie actually isn’t all that great but I love the concept is great and the way it’s carried out in the story (in the book at least) is fantastic.

Jonathan
Guest

I haven’t watched these, but I will seek them out.

The Time Traveler’s Wife was ruined for me because I read the book first, but yeah… the book was fantastic. It takes a lot for me to get caught up in a romance, but this one worked for me. Great concept.

Goon
Guest

Timecrimes is the last great time travel film that I can remember.

Kurt
Guest

Yummy. I loved that film. Sad to say that Extraterrestrials was a bit of a disappointment after Time Crimes.

I chatted with Nacho Vigalondo during a party at TIFF this year, but I forgot to pester him if he would ever go back to the TIME TRAVEL well, he seems a man of ideas…and good humour.

Matt Gamble
Guest

Army of Darkness, Berkley Square, Flight of the Navigator, Trancers, Frequency and Groundhog Day are all solid.

Jonathan
Guest

Good call on Army of Darkness.

I thought about it, but I didn’t count Groundhog Day. I don’t know why. I guess because it’s not traditional time- travel, in that there were never physical consequences for him. If I did count it, it might even top my list.

Jonathan
Guest

I remember really like Frequency when it came out. I think it was even one of the first DVDs I ever bought back when the transition from VHS to DVD was happening. I rewatched it recently though and boy, it wasn’t quite as good as I had remembered it.

Kurt
Guest

TRANCERS! Guilty pleasure if there ever was one! Love that film…even some of the sequels…

Voncaster
Guest

In light of its excellence, I would move Bill & Ted’s up on my personal list of best time travel movies.

Andrew James
Admin

I actually saw some nerdy video last week in which a theoretical physicist claimed the mechanics in Bill & Ted were actually pretty spot on as to how time travel might work – not the phone booth thing, just the way in which characters behave and how the whole “later, we’ll go back in time and steal keys and leave them here, so they’ll be waiting for us now” thing would actually work.

Meanwhile, he claimed that although Back to the Future is an awesome movie, it’s complete B.S.

Jonathan
Guest

If the BS serves the story, I can get on board. There are all paradoxes in time travel. Like, technically, the photograph itself should be disappearing in Back to the Future, not the people in it, because the changes would have altered events so that this photo was never taken, but whatever. That sort of stuff can easily be looked over, particularly in a movie that focuses on the fun and the experience rather than the details (e.g. Looper).

Andrew James
Admin

Of course! Clearly. I think BTTF is probably the best time travel movie\series. But in terms of how time travel might actually work, this guy is saying Bill and Ted is one of the most believable and smartest; which is pretty funny I think.

Andrew James
Admin

A-ha! Here it is:

Kurt
Guest

In it’s own weird and round-about way, INCEPTION is a kind of time travel movie.

See also, Vincent Ward’s THE NAVIGATORS

I suppose IDIOCRACY is a time travel movie in its own right as well…

(Or are we defining TIME TRAVEL as an ability to go backwards in time?)

Gil
Guest

No love for La Jetée?
This film always has me struggle with tears at the end.

rot
Guest

a cheat but two of my favorite time travel stories are television episodes:

Lost – The Constant
Fringe – White Tulip

Both seamless mesh the emotional drama with the conceit of time travel, something Looper, in my opinion, is not nearly as successful doing.

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