Making a fantastic time-travel movie, as it turns out, is not an easy task, and numerous filmmakers have attempted and failed for a variety of reasons. But there are some genuinely excellent films telling about time travel that can boast unforgettable and inventive stories, many of which still can take your breath away.
Most time-travel films try to keep the actual storyline simple, but that’s not true of star Shane Carruth’s dizzying 2004 film Primer. The drama revolves around two engineers who accidentally discover a time travel mechanism while improving some tech projects. Carruth doesn’t weaken any scientific aspects of the movie, and indeed the filmmakers put much effort into explaining the exact mechanics of what’s going on in this film. That is why it remains one of the most scientifically well-thought-out time-travel movies ever released.
Although James Cameron’s revolutionary 1984 sci-fi release is far more grounded and unsophisticated than its sequel, the Terminator still thrills people’s minds all these years later. With a genuinely inventive basis, fascinating performance from Linda Hamilton, and evidence that Arnold Schwarzenegger could be persuasive on the screen, The Terminator’s success spread all over the world.
About Time is undoubtedly the most emotional movie on this list. Director Richard Curtishad had already hit the hearts with charming Love Actually and sidesplitting Pirate Radio. About Time, in turn, offers the opportunity to immerse into philosophical thoughts about death and regret. The movie represents it uniquely by focusing on a heartfelt connection between father and son. The romantic storyline between Domhnall Gleeson and Rachel McAdams is head-spinning. Still, the relationship between time-traveling father and son is the genuinely tear-jerking aspect of this great work.
Back to the Future Part II
Some people think Back to the Future Part II is a disastrous movie, and those people are actually wrong. Director Robert Zemeckis’ original is exceptional, but the ambitious filmmaker adds more time travel adventures for the first sequel while also echoing the first movie in a distinctive way. Creating a decent continuation is like walking on a tightrope, and only a highly competent director with much vision could succeed.
It was the case when fiction seemed a ridiculous kind until it became our reality. Filmmaker Mike Judge couldn’t predict how well Idiocracy would be perceived over ten years after its release. Indeed Judge had his finger on the pulse of what was happening in America at the time to reveal ugly truths that remain applicable to our days. The main story revolves around a man being “frozen” for a few hundred years, while the comedic precision with which Judge executes his acute vision of America’s future is what makes Idiocracy absorbing. Besides, it’s seasoned with excellent jokes.
Rian Johnson has always tried to showcase a great mix of ambition and meticulousness, whatever he touched. Looper marked Johnson’s first incursion into the sci-fi genre, and he approached it with all his enthusiasm, offering up a twisty time-travel plot rooted primarily on characters. The film revolves around the storyline like, “What would happen if you went back in time and got acquainted with your younger self?” seasoned with incredible taut action sequences and turbulent moral dilemmas in good amount.
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
As one of the most prominent movies in the franchise, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban also stands out as one of the best time-travel movies ever released. Director Alfonso Cuaron diluted the aesthetic of the adorable book series, and while the movie’s narration is all Rowling, Cuaron’s execution turns it into an outstanding masterpiece. From excellent cinematography to audio accompaniment that involves the viewers in the shifting time scenes, Azkaban is full of splendor, curiosity, and danger, and it’s an absolute joy to watch.
Star Trek (2009)
Director J.J. Abrams’ 2009 rerun of the Star Trek franchise avoided the shade of the original films by using one specific tool: time travel. This great idea allowed Abrams’ highly incredible film to both exist in the same universe as the previous Star Trek movies while also adding new possibilities for the future. The film can fit the general Star Trek canvas well while also serving as an incredibly entertaining yet independent adventure.
While filmmaker Terry Gilliam dealt with time travel several times before, his 1995 creation 12 Monkeys remains one of the most remarkable entries in the genre. The sci-fi drama includes Gilliam’s more odd sensibilities and gritty and grounded time-travel, resulting in a catchy and memorable experience. Brad Pitt delivers a pretty exceptional performance as a mental institution patient. At the same time, Bruce Willis plays a future prisoner sent back in time to discover the emergence of a dangerous virus that destroyed the planet. Never a supporter of the traditional scenario, Gilliam keeps things delightfully strange throughout the entire movie.
Edge of Tomorrow
Edge of Tomorrow is the perfect mix — a brilliant performance of Tom Cruise, the incredible strength of Emily Blunt, unique features of writer Christopher McQuarrie, and endless ambitions of director Doug Liman. Many have attempted to reanimate the “stuck in a loop” scenario. Still, Edge of Tomorrow manages to do it exceptionally, keeping every single scene unique even if we’re witnessing the same day over and over again. The secret ingredient of the movie is that Tom Cruise plays an atypical role resulting in a wonderfully refreshing viewing experience. Edge of Tomorrow is a fantastic example of modern cinematography: a genuinely unusual and highly entertaining blockbuster.
Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure
1989’s Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure mixed the traditional sci-fi genre with the ridiculous teen comedy to present a remarkably inventive and funny adventure. Keanu Reeves and Alex Winter make a perfect duo who use a time machine to finish their history project. The storyline represents a ludicrous adventure, but it’s made with such love for its heroes that it’s hard not to adore. The scenario is accompanied by funny jokes, mainly including historical figures. In general, it’s a movie that probably shouldn’t have succeeded, but it did, and for a good reason.
Planet of the Apes
Planet of the Apes is literally a time-travel film, even though audiences who first watched it on the screens in 1968 didn’t know it until the final. Charlton Heston’s astronaut Taylor hasn’t simply come across a planet of the apes; he’s visited our future planet where apes have actually seized the Earth. The film is replete with socio-political narration, which continued in its underrated sequels, and features one of the best scores ever created. But that ending, which represents the rest of the film in a whole new light, is what makes it classic.
Terminator 2: Judgment Day
Indeed, the ambitious filmmaker James Cameron did his best to create a very different movie than the original Terminator, adding some shades of a good comedy, drama, and family adventure resulting in this remarkable sci-fi masterpiece. Terminator 2 is a genuine wonder of a film, turning its genre concept on its head to release a time-travel story similar to the first Terminator but entirely different in crucial aspects.
Legendary actor Bill Murray and talented director Harold Ramis constantly confronted each other while creating Groundhog Day. Murray supposedly wanted the film to be more philosophical, while Ramis leaned towards a comedy. But that irreconcilable conflict between two great ideas actually made Groundhog Day a genuinely classic movie. It’s funny, featuring some of Murray’s best comedic performances, but it’s also deplorable. The film is imbued with an idea of loneliness and despair as the main character has to experience the same day over and over again. The film reveals some surprisingly dark sides, but Murray’s personality always shines through, and Andie MacDowell shows some terrific performance as well. It’s a never-annoying classic, definitely worth your attention.
Back to the Future
Back to the Future is the best example of a genuine classic when it comes to time-travel films. The dynamic relationship between Marty and Doc Brown is probably the most appealing side of the film in both the 1985 and 1955 periods. Besides, it’s also engaging to witness Marty seeing his parents when they’re teenagers. Crispin Glover and Lea Thompson (actors playing as Marty’s father and mother) succeeded in playing the younger and older versions of their heroes with equal impeccability. Also, the entire movie is so appropriately written and masterfully executed that it’s hard to find a single thing to say against it. “Back to the Future” is definitely a winner of our chart and for a good reason.