Einstein himself has said travelling back in time is nothing short of impossible (and that dude’s no slouch in the brain department). Nonetheless, Hollywood has refused to let a little thing like science rain on moviegoers’ parade. As such, we’ve been pelted with countless time travel films over the years — some bad, some decent, and some full-on brilliant. These five fall into the latter category…
‘Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure’ (1988)
Two high school meatheads travel through time in a suped-up phone booth with the hope of passing their history exam. Oh, and the fate of humanity kind of depends on it — no biggie, bro! Just as fresh as it was 25 years ago, Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure is the definitive time travel comedy: charming, hilarious, highly-quotable, and original as all get-out.
Any time travel film shot for seven million dollars would be considered low budget. Primer was shot for seven THOUSAND. And yet it’s become one of the genre’s most powerful, thought-provoking entries. It all boils down to intelligent storytelling — something most audiences would prefer to flashy CGI any day of the week. Give Primer a look and prepare to have your mind BLOWN, y’all.
‘Donnie Darko’ (2001)
I ain’t gonna lie to you: Donnie Darko is dark, challenging, and even confusing at times. And our title character doesn’t venture back to the stone age or centuries into the future; we’re talking a few days, max. But as light on the sci-fi as this film may be, the payoff is heavy stuff indeed. Especially with the fate of Donnie’s loved ones — and possibly the world itself — resting on his shoulders. Note: the director’s cut is the better option — less ambiguity and yep, more time travel biz.
‘Back to the Future Part II’ (1989)
Okay yes, the original Back to the Future is a better film than its two sequels — in fact, it’s one of the all-time greats, period. But pound for pound, Back to the Future Part II is the trilogy’s best time travel movie. In fact, teenaged me was literally dazed upon exiting the theatre back in 1989. The gist: young Marty McFly ping-pongs between 2015, 1955, ‘present-day’ 1985, and a dystopian alternate timeline 1985. It’s a two-hour temporal roller coaster ride, and you’ll be exhausted by the time those closing credits crawl up the screen. In the best possible way, of course.
‘Twelve Monkeys’ (1996)
It’s Terry Gilliam at his most Terry Gilliam-est. And it pays off. A convict (Bruce Willis) is transported from the year 2035 back to the 1990s with the hope of saving the planet from a nasty virus. It’s equal parts action, drama, sci-fi, with a whole lotta humanity thrown in for good measure. Yep, it just might make ya cry. A career best for Bruce Willis, plus a well-deserved Oscar nom for Brad Pitt. Brilliant in every possible way.