Five Amazing Time Travelling Movies

Recently the British television show Doctor Who has been getting a lot of attention and gaining a sizable viewership outside its typical circles. While Doctor Who is known for its wibbly wobbly timey wimey stuff, it by no means has the market cornered. The following are some awesome movies that examine time travel, paradoxes, and cause and effect.

Back to the Future– No film franchise has dealt with paradoxes more than Back to the Future has. From accidentally becoming the aim of your teenage mother’s affection or giving your family rival an unlimited source of income, the series has shown its character fading out of history and entire timelines wiped out. It’s a classic and if you’ve never seen it, one must question why you’re hanging around a website named “Guerrilla Geek” in the first place. Bonus Round: Huey Lewis and the News.

12 Monkeys– Director Terry Gilliam has made a career out of making people scratch their heads and few things make people scratch their heads like time travel. In this 1995 cult classic, we find ourselves following James Cole (Bruce Willis) on his mission to investigate why the surface of the Earth is now uninhabitable by humans. Is James Cole a time traveler? Is he insane? Is he both? The film also takes a close look at the concept of time being fixed or variable. In attempting to change the past will Cole actually solidify it?

12 Monkeys is a masterwork. It’s visually stunning, the cast is amazing and the story is mind-bending. Not only is it one of Gilliam’s best works, but it might possibly be one of the best time travel movies of all time. You should track this movie down for Brad Pitt’s performance alone. The acting in this movie is truly inspired.

PrimerPrimer is guaranteed to be the most unique movie on this list. Firstly, it was filmed at the cost of a mere $7,000. Also it’s application of time travel is like nothing ever seen in movies. There is no time traveling Delorean or strange portal that magically makes a person appear at a different point in time. Instead, Primer shows you the birth of time travel in a dim garage in the suburbs at the hands of a couple of engineers working on side projects to make some extra money and pass the time.

It also might be the single most unforgiving movie here as well. If you can actually understand every little bit of this story with a single viewing, odds are your a Time Lord. By the end of the movie, you could actually draw out a map that illustrates all the time travelling that occurs. To compound the confusion, time travel is completely non-linear. Instead, the traveler activates the time travel device and proceeds with their day. Then after an amount of time has passed, the person returns to the device and once entering is transported back in time to the point the device was first activated, causing a loop and a period of time where a person is living both their past and future at the very same moment. Confused? Yeah… I am too.

The Final Countdown– The Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor was a terrible event that is a pivotal turning point in history. While no one is happy it happened, one has to question how history would turn out if it never occurred. The characters in The Final Countdown are forced to make that call. In this classic sci-fi film the entire supercarrier USS Nimitz is sent back in time just before the attack. Armed with the most powerful aircraft carrier in the ’80s US Nuclear Navy, this one ship has the ability to ensure that the Japanese fleet never reaches Hawaii. Do these time traveling sailors take it upon themselves to change history or do they allow events to occur as they did before? Watch the movie and find out!

In case you need another reason to check out this awesome movie, it features two of the most famous Hollywood patriarchs of all time. Both Kirk Douglas and Martin Sheen play major roles in The Final Countdown. It is rare that you see two highly regarded actors in such an interesting film together.

Grand Tour: Disaster in Time– Originally titled Timescape when released in theaters, Grand Tour: Disaster in Time is a criminally overlooked piece of science fiction. The story revolves around the owner of a small bed and breakfast named Ben Wilson (Jeff Daniels). While performing renovations on his B&B, a strange group of tourist arrive offering to pay him a large sum of money to stay for three days. Before long, he realizes that his unusual guests are actually time travelers that are taking a tour through time, visiting some of the greatest disasters in human history. Using the visitors’ own technology, he attempts to make a difference in his timeline by saving his friends and family.

So there you have it, five time travel movies that examine the complexities of paradoxes and other complications of altering timelines. What are some of your favorite movies that illustrate that time travel isn’t as simple as taking a weekend trip? Share your opinions in the comments below.

2 Comments

  1. Posted August 18, 2011 at 1:50 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Always wanted to see ‘Grand Tour: Disaster in Time’ but never got round to it. Mostly cos its never been released in the UK on DVD. ‘Twelve Monkeys’ is one of the best films ever. No question. If anyone likes Primer (or can understand it), they should check out Spanish film ‘Los cronocrímenes. (Timecrimes) which is excellent.

  2. AndyNo Gravatar
    Posted August 19, 2011 at 5:51 pm | Permalink | Reply

    What, no Time Cop?

    Grand Tour sounds really neat, as the Final Coundown (We’re leaving togetheeeeeeeer). I had never heard of either of them!

    Primer is hands down the best time travel movie ever made, IMO. It’s realistic and beautiful and complex all at the same time, and the fact that it was done for no budget makes it that much more impressive.

Say something... I dare you.