There are plenty of time-travel movies in existence, but most are either obtrusive “hard sci-fi” yawn-fests or patronising popcorn entertainment. Here are ten time-travel flicks that manage to successfully straddle the divide — with trailers!
The film is loosely based on the short story All You Zombies by Robert A. Heinlein and it remains entrancing from start to finish. While the actual time-travel mechanics are a bit silly (a violin case is involved), the film has some fascinating things to say about how personal trauma and the passage of time affects personal identity. Predestination officially screens in Australia next month. Watch the trailer below:
The Time Machine
If you’re keen to check out The Time Machine, make sure it’s the 1960 original and not the risible 2002 remake. Watch the trailer below.
By the director’s own admission, the film is more concerned with character development than explaining the intricacies of time-travel but there is still some great, heady stuff to wrap your brain around here. We especially like how altering one’s fate in the past affects the same person in the future — leading to sudden and horrific disintegrations. Watch the trailer below:
For the two or three of you who haven’t seen it, The Terminator tells the relentlessly bleak story of a genocidal cyborg who is sent back in time to eliminate humanity’s only chance at salvation. In the movie’s dystopian future, machines rule the planet until a freedom fighter inspires the human slaves to fight back. By killing the freedom fighter’s mother before he has a chance to be born, the machines hope to erase humanity’s fightback in the future.
“Inspired” by an old episode of The Outer Limits penned by sci-fi god Harlan Ellison, The Terminator is a much better film than you probably remember. The time-travel mechanics are deliciously paradoxical — especially when it comes to matters of progeny. If it’s been a while since you last saw it, I recommend paying The Terminator another visit. Watch the trailer below:
Of all the movies on this list, Primer probably offers the most realistic take on the concept of time-travel – there’s no far-fetched plot to save the universe, the development of the prototype is plausibly mundane and the science is fascinatingly complex. The film was written and directed by a real-life engineer with a degree in mathematics which helps to give the technical jargon an assured authenticity that’s usually lacking in sci-fi. It also helps that the lead actors look and sound like science geeks instead of GQ models in lab coats.
If you want to watch a challenging time-travel movie that demands multiple viewings to properly ruminate on, you could do a lot worse than Primer. Watch the trailer below.
X-Men: Days Of Future Past
X-Men: Days Of Future Past
It’s basically The Terminator in reverse (i.e. — the time traveler is trying to prevent an assassination instead of committing one.) X-Men: Days Of Future Past could have waved away its time-travel conceit via comic book logic or a magic MacGuffin. Instead, the movie goes to admirable lengths to keep the core rules plausible and consistent. We particularly like the idea of time-travel via mental transference, which makes slightly more sense than sending physical people back in time. On the downside, this doesn’t really work as a standalone movie – for full appreciation, the previous X-Men flicks are required viewing. Watch the trailer below:
As with any film of this nature, it’s best to go in knowing as little about the plot as possible. While this does makes it harder to keep up, the assorted payoffs are worth the mental effort required to make sense of them. Ignore the trailer below!
The film also scores extra points for Terry Gilliam’s trademark directing style and making Brad Pitt look ugly back when he was in his prime. Watch the trailer below.
Donnie DarkoSource Code
Like most cult movies, Donnie Darko tends to divide audiences — you either love it, or hate it. Nevertheless, few movies in recent memory have tackled time-travel as deeply as this. There’s also a talking rabbit. Watch the trailer below.
Back To The Future
Time Bandits?Groundhog DayHot Tub Time MachineBill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure
Back To The Future is different. In addition to being a frequently hilarious adventure film, the concept of time-travel is handled brilliantly throughout. You all know the story by now: a boy travels back in time, inadvertently comes between his teenage parents and then struggles to bring them back together to ensure his own existence. From the intricacies of the “grandfather paradox” to the iconic DeLorean DMC-12 time machine, it’s one of the best attempts at the genre the world has ever seen. Watch the trailer below:
This story has been updated since its original publication.