Time travel is a pretty warped concept. Flux capacitors that run on plutonium or garbage, moving faster than the speed of light, or do you remember that time Superman flew so fast around the Earth that he reversed its orbit, which turned back time? Remember when everyone pretended that that made perfect sense?
Time travel never does make perfect sense, but it’s a great concept that can be used in countless ways, and there’s no *time* to really watch every movie and TV show that incorporates the idea. Since most people have speculated that Avengers: Endgame will feature time travel, I thought it best to rewatch some films and try to fully wrap my brain around it, and instead of actually solving time travel, I made a list of some of my favorite time travel-centric movies, however in no particular order.
Intentionally, I’ve left out the big names. Back to the Future is not here, The Terminator is not here, and neither is 12 Monkeys. We know the cultural impact these movies and their continuities have made on us, but I’m here to talk about somewhat unsung time travel heroes.
Frequently Asked Questions About Time Travel:
“This is all getting a little bit too complicated.”
A fantastic, hilarious, and charming film about friendship and time travel. This time machine is my all-time favorite of all chrononaut vessels because it’s hardly a vessel. It’s a bathroom at a pub. Chris O’ Dowd is always a treat to watch, and once the plot kicks off, it’s a crazy ride that doesn’t let the viewer take a breath. It’s incredibly meta and it never takes itself too seriously, I think it takes the genre and has as much fun with it as possible.
“Man, are you hungry? I haven’t eaten since later this afternoon.”
A huge deviation from the campiness of time travel, this science fiction masterpiece almost makes enough sense to get you to believe in the concept. I would suggest watching with a pad and pen because it takes quite the mental toll to fully grasp this movie’s plot. I myself had to draw a diagram while watching, and I had to watch it a few times. No shame in having a movie make ya feel a little dumb!
“Well then, like everyone else, you’re just going to have to take it one day at a time.”
This movie is a master class on using the concept of time travel to push a VERY compelling plot along. Leaving your head spinning while not leaving behind any doubts, this Ethan Hawke / Sarah Snook vehicle unfolds its mystery neatly, satisfyingly, and just perfect. I won’t say too much on its actual happenings, but once you watch this one, you’ll wanna go back in time so you can experience it for the first time. Over and over and over again.
Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure:
“It’s a history report, not a babe report.”
“But Bill, those are some historical babes.”
Bill & Ted 3 was just announced pretty recently to be released in the summer of 2020. Without a most bodacious phone booth time travel machine to get you there, I highly recommend checking out the first two. In this first installment, Bill & Ted have to finish a history report to make sure they don’t flunk. If they do, Ted’s dad is shipping him out to military school, and if that happens, their band will never bring about world peace in the future. If that sounds a little absurd, I assure you, it gets weirder. It’s a most excellent adventure through time.
Hot Tub Time Machine:
“How’s the future going for you? Are you like a happy grown-up?”
Four dudes get naked in a hot tub, get absolutely wasted, and wake up hungover and stuck in the ’80s. This, funnily enough, shares a detail with X-Men: Days of Future Past, because in the ’80s, these dudes wake up in their teenaged bodies. This is one of few accidental time travel movies where, rather than being careful not to alter the events of the past thus changing the future, everyone pretty much says “screw it” and decide to change their lives entirely. It’s hilarious, it’s got an amazing 80’s soundtrack, and Sebastian Stan is in this for some reason.
“This time travel crap just fries your brain like an egg.”
It’s my humble opinion that this movie is violently underrated. It’s a very clever movie that had a little bit of an uncanny valley effect when people looked at Joseph Gordon-Levitt. I’ll keep it real and tell you his face looks a little backward, but time travel being used by the mob? For assassinations? Throw superpowers into the mix and ya get this fun romp of a sci-fi crime movie.
“And what if you could go back in time and take all those hours of pain and darkness and replace them with something better?”
My opinion on Donnie Darko changes over time, like the weather. Sometimes I feel like I fully understand everything about this film, and then sometimes I watch it and feel like a bag of hammers. I don’t get it. It’s beautifully shot, and a phenomenal performance from Jake Gyllenhaal makes this movie an all-time classic. The concept of time travel is constant in the movie, and it very much includes it, but there’s a whole lot more going on. This movie always warrants a rewatch, and I remember being intimidated by its complexities but you know what? I’m not afraid anymore.
*Fun Fact: this is Seth Rogen’s first appearance in a movie! His first line ever is “I like your boobs.”
“Lesson #1: All the time traveling in the world can’t make somebody love you.”
Let’s close the list out with a rom-com. A charming, cute, fun bit of romance that involves a time traveler is just alright with me. I cried like a baby watching this movie and although it doesn’t do much to explain the exact science of time travel (very much because key components of that science do not exist), it captivates in a way a sci-fi piece would, but kisses you gently and rubs your back while you sob like a beautiful romance movie should.