Movies about time travel appeal to the magician within all of us, the part of us that wants to understand or travel to distant realms. For years, time travel movies have captured the imagination of people young and old as they weave modern day characters with the distant past or the far future. They provide a vehicle for hilarity, adventure and drama; sometimes in the same flick.
The writers of some of these movies have obviously spent some time contemplating the ways in which time travel would be achieved, taking in to account the science and its affect upon everyone’s lives. Others clearly decided to forget this altogether and have still produced memorable characters who have enjoyed hilarious and challenging adventures in search of some treasure.
Here are a few time travel movies we love.
9: Hot Tub Time Machine (2010)
Four guys on a man’s holiday decide to stay at a chalet resort that they stayed at when they were younger. On the first night, they pay a drunken visit to the hot tub on their deck and are unwittingly transported back to the year 1986, a year that they had previously stayed at that same resort. Slapstick comedy unfolds as they meet people from their past and relive their youth.
One of the best time travel scenes is played out as one of the characters, in a drunken stupor, phones up the girlfriend who cheated on him in the present day. Of course, they are back in time, and his girlfriend is only 9 years old. Watching him blame her for the breakdown of their relationship leads to one of the most original laughs in the whole film.
8: Harry Potter And The Prisoner Of Azkaban (2004)
With all the magic being weaved in the movies, time travel had to show up somewhere in the Harry Potter series. It finally did in The Prisoner of Azkhaban, when Hermione makes use of a time-turner to take Harry and Ron back a few hours in time to save Sirius Black and Buckbeak. It was originally given to her by Professor McGonagall so that she could attend as many of the simultaneously scheduled classes as she possibly could.
There are strict rules around the use of the time-turner, the misuse of which results in immediate penalties. Unlike most time travel devices however, the time-turner will only take the user back by about five hours in time, which was plenty enough for her to be able to attend her desired classes.
7: Time Bandits (1981)
When six dwarves pile out of 11 year old Kevin’s wardrobe, it becomes obvious that things are about to take a turn for the interesting.
The dwarves have stolen a large map and are looking to travel again before they are caught. The map provides the link to the other times and dimensions and soon Kevin is running around with them through the Napoleonic Wars, Mycenaean Greece, and even on to the deck of the Titanic. A wizard, going by the highly original name of Evil, wants a piece of the map, hoping to take control of time for himself.
With a bit of help from Kevin, the evil wizard is defeated and turned to stone. But happy endings are not in order in this film, thanks to the evil genius of Terry Gilliam.
6: Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure (1989)
If we all had access to a time traveling phone booth we would probably all be able to get A grades in history class. Rufus (played by the late George Carlin) gives Bill and Ted an advantage over their peers when he hands over the time machine for them.
If they fail to score well in their project, they fail school and the future of mankind and music hangs in the balance. Jumping down wormholes, the two musical maestros make contact with hilarious versions of some of histories greatest men and women. Joan of Arc, Napoleon, Abraham Lincoln, Genghis Khan – these are only half of the crazy people that they bring back to present day San Dimas, California.
5: Terminator (1984)
The Terminator franchise, originally starring a younger Arnold Schwarzenegger, first sent back the cyborg killer version of Arnie to kill the mother of John Connor. His trip from 2029 is made possible by the Time Displacement Equipment located deep beneath the ground in LA.
What ensues is much mayhem, explosions and car chases as Michael Biehn’s character, Kyle Reese, does whatever he possibly can to make sure the future cyborg does not kill the present day heroine, played by Linda Hamilton. Time travel meant that Arnies promise, “I’ll be back”, was the whole truth and nothing but the truth, and led to thirty years of bad puns from the future governor of California.
4: About Time (2013)
Its not every family that has the ability to jump through time at the drop of a pin. In the movie About Time, Tim Lake discovers on his 21st birthday that he has that ability, one passed down through his father’s genes. The only constraint that comes with this gift is that he can only travel back in time to a place that he has already been.
This works out well for him when he finds himself continuing to make a fool of himself in the presence of Mary (Rachel McAdams). Thanks to his genetic anomaly he is able to go back in time to correct his every mistake, something that he begins to have a lot of fun with. As he experiments with his gift though, he realizes that not everything goes his way, and as he changes his choice, he changes the timelines in the future.
3: X-Men: Days Of Future Past (2014)
In the most recent X-Men movie Days of Future Past, it is Kitty Pryde who is the ticket to time travel for the mutants. She has the unique ability to phase through solid objects, and in the film she is able to finesse that into the ability to send Wolverine back to the year 1973.
His mission in that year is to prevent Mystique from assassinating Bolivar Trask, the man who designs the Sentinels that would later destroy the mutants. The film plays with time travel in a bunch of fun ways – and manages to repair some of the damage of the weaker films in the series.
2: Superman (1978)
Nearly 40 years after Christopher Reeve donned the cape of superman, geeks are still debating how he managed to turn back time. Some argue that because he was flying faster than the speed of light, he was able to turn time back. Others argue that it is the result of the earth spinning backwards that he travels through time. Still others argue that it wouldn’t work either way.
The fact is that Superman defies our physics anyway, so maybe there is an altogether different reason for being able to do it. It works for him, as he reverses the affect of an earthquake that kills Lois Lane, thereby bringing her back to life. The whole movie may not be about time travel, but this part stands out enough for it to deserve inclusion on this list.
1: Back To The Future (1985)
The DeLorean surely wins the prize for most awesome of all the time machines, bringing the word “flux capacitor” to the vernacular of geeks the world over. Marty McFly hits up many timelines courtesy of the work of Doc Brown, sending him in equal measure to the past, present and future.
Of course the future in this franchise is our now, and it is quite clear that we are unable to get around by hover board right now, which is slightly disappointing. Who knows – maybe McFly hopped over to a different timeline than the one we are on right now, so that would make sense. Regardless of the details, this series remains one of the most popular time travel film franchises of the last 30 years.