Everyone has thought about going back or forward in time at least once. It would be crazy to say the thought has not crossed your mind. Travelling through time is a concept of movement that has been readily discussed for decades (even centuries). Since time travel does not exist (or cannot be proven at this moment), theorists have been able to create many different scenarios on how time travel might be achieved. Black holes, time machines, cosmic strings, space-time vortexs, time jumps; it could be its own list.
However, reading scientific journals on time travel gets boring fast. Thankfully, we have filmmakers to make time travel fun. As previously stated, there has been no definitive findings on the proper way to travel through time which allows each filmmaker to make time travel their own. The results see protagonists trapped reliving the same day, crossing paths with their younger selves, creating time loops, and using sleek devices to achieve the impossible. It doesn’t always make sense, but when it does man is it worth it.
This is the 50 Greatest Time Travel Movies of All Time.
50. Click (2006)
After the one-two punch of Happy Gilmore and Billy Madison, Adam Sandler’s output began to fluctuate in terms of quality after the nineties. However, Click has to be one of Sandler’s more inventive and funny family comedies. Never before had I seen a universal remote that controlled the universe. More importantly, this remote allowed Sandler’s Michael Newman to fast forward through life’s boring moments (like squabbles with the wife, feeling sick, and being stuck in traffic). But it wouldn’t be a time travel movie without some sort of moral as we see the remote begin to auto-fast forward through Michael’s life. He’s suddenly time travelling years into the future and his life unravels apart because of it. In terms of time travel mechanics, I’m leaving a positive review on the Bed Bath & Beyond website.
49. Doctor Strange (2016)
Doctor Strange is a difficult movie to rank on this list as time travel really doesn’t factor in until the third act — but boy what a third act it is. We catch a glimpse of the time travel mechanics earlier on, but it really kicks in during the final fight, with Strange moving forward as enemies and destruction move in reverse. Then the movie gets inventive, using an infinite time loop as a bargaining chip to defeat the big bad, Dormammu. This movie introduced the time stone and set the stage for further time hijinks in Avengers: Endgame.
48. Time After Time (1979)
H.G. Wells versus Jack the Ripper. Do I need to continue? Time After Time is an inventive science-fiction film that sees Wells pursue his close friend John Leslie Stevenson, who is secretly Jack the Ripper, into the future by the means of his time machine. Having arrived after Stevenson, Wells uses deductive reasoning to hunt down Stevenson while falling in love with a bank employee named Amy Robbins (Mary Steenburgen). Malcolm McDowell brings a lot to the role of Wells, and seeing Steenburgen fall in love with a time traveller that isn’t Doc Brown was a delight. This is one to check out.
47. Army of Darkness (1992)
The third instalment in the Evil Dead franchise picks up where Evil Dead II left off. Ash (Bruce Campbell) is trapped in the Middle Ages and must once again battle undead in order to return to his present. What sets this film back from being higher is the lack of time travel. Ash’s narrative arc in the film is motivated by his want of returning to his present, but we only ever see a glimpse of any time travel. Instead, Army of Darkness is a man out of time action-horror film that benefits from Campbell’s strong performance. He knows how to command a scene, and his use of modern day knowledge to battle medieval armies is a blast to watch.
46. Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me (1999)
Austin Powers started out parodying spy films like the James Bond series, but soon began to incorporate other film genres like science-fiction. The sequels introduced the concept of time travel, and while Goldmember is the better film, The Spy Who Shagged Me uses time travel better in terms of story. Dr. Evil heads back to 1969 to steal Austin Power’s mojo. We get to see a younger No. 2, and Scott Evil, Dr. Evil’s son, goes from being a test tube baby to Dr. Evil and Frau Farbissina’s love child. The film brushes aside continuity errors instead embracing them for even more comedic effect. Case in point: Austin Powers arrives home to find Felicity Shagwell fooling around with another Austin Powers from the timeline. Hey, it’s not cheating if she’s still screwing you, baby.
45. Déjà Vu (2006)
Originally conceived as a “time travel thriller,” Déjà Vu focuses on a special agents and a newly formed detective unit that is tasked with investigating a ferry bombing. They use a program called “Snow White” to look into the past; specifically 4 days, 6 hours, 3 minutes, 45 seconds, and 14.5 nanoseconds into the past. It’s an interesting concept that unfortunately does not live up to the idea. However, I appreciated the attention to detail concerning the aspects of time travel and the set up of Paul Patton’s character. Déjà Vu does not always make sense, but when it does you can’t help but appreciate what the screenwriters were attempting to create.
44. Meet the Robinsons (2007)
The 47th Disney animated feature film is far from groundbreaking, but delivers a nice little time travel entry for children and families. The time travel plot draws from many other sources, including the tropes of meeting your future self and future family. The time travel isn’t rock solid, but it doesn’t have to be either. As far as animated time travel entries go, this is as good as it gets.
43. 13 Going on 30 (2004)
13 Going on 30 is most succinctly described as “Big but with time travel.” While the movie may not match up to its more famous counterpart, the time-travel element is used nicely and works arguably better than Tom Hanks instant change into an adult. Jenna makes a magic wish and her 13-year-old consciousness is transported into her 30-year-old body giving the teen a glimpse of a more personal future — and more personal reflections to boot. Even though the movie relies on its time travel premise, the movie chooses to put the details on the back burner for the best.
42. Cinderella III: A Twist in Time (2007)
It’s very rare for a sequel, let alone the second sequel, to live up-to and even surpass the quality of the original film. Disney’s Cinderella is considered the definitive princess film despite the brisk 74-minute running time leaving little room for character development beyond Cinderella herself. Fast forward to A Twist in Time and supporting characters like Prince Charming and the evil stepsister Anastasia are fully fleshed out. When Anastasia manages to steal the Fairy Godmother’s wand from her, the Evil Stepmother uses it to turn back time and have the glass slipper fit Anastasia’s foot instead of Cinderella’s. From there, further magical manipulations ensue as Cinderella races to prove she is the Prince’s true love. Disney’s direct-to-video sequels get a lot of flack for being quick cash grabs, but Cinderella III proves that there are exceptions in every bunch.
41. Interstellar (2014)
Christopher Nolan has never been afraid of incorporating science-fiction elements into his films. We have seen cloning in The Prestige and dream-hacking equipment in Inception. However, Interstellar is Nolan’s first full-blown science-fiction epic. Set in a dystopian future where humanity is struggling to survive, a group of astronauts travel through a wormhole in search of a new home for mankind. It’s a fun, albeit slow-moving film that isn’t afraid to make you stop and think.
What do you think of the selection so far? What are some of your favorite time travel movies? Maybe they will show up further on the list!