Top 5… Time Travel Films

After my recent cinematic adventures with Looper, this list was going to be my Top 5… Fainting Scenes, however I couldn’t think of any good ones outside of Sleepy Hollow. So, to celebrate Looper and my finally remaining conscious throughout its entirety, here’s my Top 5… Time Travel Films. Also, apologies for posting a day late, I wanted to sort out my thoughts on Looper to see if it would be on the list, and I was out last night, sorry about that.

Time travel in films has always had one major problem – paradoxes. To my knowledge, no film or franchise has successfully made an entirely plausible and plot-hole-free time travel story. They either travel through parallel universes in ways they shouldn’t be able to (Back to the Future Part II), ignore ways in which the present/future would change because of events in the past/present (Deja Vu), or conveniently forget the existence of the time travel device when it could be incredibly useful elsewhere (Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban). This is generally the most important aspect I look for in a good time travel film, although occasionally sheer entertainment value can often outweigh this.

5. Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure
 It’s been a while since I last saw it, but I remember this film being brilliant when I was a kid. The tale of two time travelling slackers, in a magic phone box from the future no less, is tremendous fun, especially the scenes involving great figures from history attempting to acclimatise themselves in a 1980s shopping mall. Mozart plays multiple keyboards simultaneously, Genghis Khan terrorises a sports goods store and Napoleon gets lost in a water park called, of course, Waterloo. Expect this is a Guaranteed Happiness post at some point in the future. 

4. Looper
 Just pushing Midnight in Paris off the list only a couple of days ago, Looper is a definite contender for my film of the year, and currently sits proudly in that Top 5 (spoiler alert for the Top 5 of December 28th or January 4th). Chances are it could rise through the ranks after a couple more viewings, but everything else on this list is a classic, so alas it cannot be any higher. It took a fresh approach at the time travel genre, and took it in new and interesting dimensions, and with a great cast and impeccable performances all round. If you haven’t seen it yet and it’s still in cinemas where you are, stop reading this and go watch it now.

3. Terminator 2: Judgment Day
I know a lot of people prefer James Cameron’s 1991 sequel to his original 1984 robot-from-the-future sci-fi-actioner, but personally Judgment Day has a few more flaws that I just can’t overlook, primarily Edward Furlong’s teenage John Connor, attempting to teach Schwarzanegger’s cyborg how to use 90’s slang. Fortunately, this is made up for with one of the most memorable villains in cinematic history with Robert Patrick’s liquid-metal T-1000, Linda Hamilton transforming herself from a ditzy victim of circumstance to a full-on badass and the aforementioned Austrian reprising his signature role with great aplomb. The scene in which he tries to smile shows just how under-rated his acting talents are.

2. The Terminator
As I said, controversially better than Terminator 2, but I stand by the claim. The Terminator is pretty much a perfect film, and is one that I’d definitely like to go back and see for the first time, without any prior knowledge. Unfortunately, it’s popularity has caused it to be amalgamated into the cultural zeitgeist, meaning that even those who haven’t seen it know the infamous quotes ad scenes, but if you go back and see it with fresh eyes, it’s not even clear that Schwarzanegger isn’t human until about halfway through the film. Just imagine seeing it for the first time, not knowing it’s about a robot. The moment you realise there is no way to stop this bulletproof man mountain in his quest to kill the mother of the unborn saviour of humanity would have so much greater an effect. But it’s a testament to the quality of the film and it’s ideas that it has overflowed into society so much.

1. Back to the Future
Well this should come as a surprise to no-one really. Back To The Future is pretty much a perfect film that I can’t remember ever finding a fault with until it’s sequels came along. The only reasons that I haven’t crossed it off the List yet are that it’s going to be almost impossible to review it with any new insights, as it’s all been said before, and I’m waiting to watch and review it on October 21st 2015, the day Marty, Doc and Jennifer travel to at the end of the film. I’ve already recruited at least two other people to watch the entire trilogy with me on this day, because that’s the kind of cool people I and my friends are. We plan film-watching days 4 years in advance (this has been planned for a while now). I know that some people have issues with the whole incest thing, which yes does get a bit icky when you think about it, but personally I find those situations more funny than disturbing, mainly because of how well the actors play them, and the tone of the film. Plus, Christopher Lloyd has never been better.

This is not only the worst time travel film I’ve seen, it’s one of the worst films I’ve seen full stop. The only reason I saw it was as part of my ongoing Kate Winslet career-watch, and it’s so far my biggest regret of allowing my girlfriend to pick a person for me to watch all of their films. A Kid in King Arthur’s Court has a ridiculous, barely explained concept – a kid (Thomas Ian Nicholas) is mistakenly summoned back to medieval times by Merlin (Ron Moody) in order to save the kingdom from the evil Art Malik, who has his eyes set on King Arthur’s eldest daughter, played by Winslet. The acting is dreary, the plot more than hazy and the lead is the most annoying character ever to appear in a kid’s film.

Haven’t Seen
Men in Black 3

Honourable Mentions
Midnight in Paris
Back to the Future II
Back to the Future III
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
Primer – I actually watched this in preparation for this list, but I was sadly disappointed, mainly at the end when it completely lost track of everything. I fully understand that I need to see the film at least five or six hundred more times before I’ll eventually understand just what’s going on to whom, when any why, but right now it doesn’t get a place. The engineering stuff at the start was great though.
Twelve Monkeys
Donnie Darko
Hot Tub Time Machine

10 thoughts on “Top 5… Time Travel Films

  1. "Back to the Future" rules! I must have seen that on a hundred times or so and I never get tired of it. There is a quote in it for almost any situation you might encounter.On my personal list I would have kept "Midnight in Paris in the top 5. As a time travel film goes this is quite alternative, following the classic dream of "how would it be to go back to this or that golden age?". And I really like Owen Wilson.There is a movie called "The Time Travellers Wife", which although being more of a romantic drama gives the whole time travel idea a different twist. I liked it better than expected. I figure I will have to go and see "Looper" now.

  2. I haven't seen Looper yet. I'll catch it when it comes to DVD. Thanks for placing Terminator before T2. While the latter definitely has better special effects, the former has the better story. I agree Back to the Future is the best, and I admit I loved Bill and Ted.One time travel movie you didn't list is a 2007 Spanish film called Timecrimes. If you haven't seen it, and you like time travel movies, you may want to check it out.

  3. 100 times still isn't enough for Back to the Future, it's not possible to watch that film too many times! I've seen The Time Traveller's Wife, but I didn't really like it that much. I think it worked better as a book, but if I hadn't read it I might have enjoyed the film more.

  4. Back to the Future is right where it should be.I haven't seen Looper, but I've heard nothing but good things about it. I also agree that the first Terminator is superior to Judgment Day.

  5. Definitely agree with Terminator above number 2.Something to add to the top fainting scenes list: Fight club (where the narrator finds out who Tyler really is). That's pretty damn good.

  6. Now there's a film I need to see again. I watched Monsters, Inc the other day too, Sully fainting after seeing what he thinks is Boo being turned into a garbage cube was pretty hilarious too.

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