Time Travel Movies

Wednesday, March 30 by Travis Petersen

Time travel movies have always been a staple in the science fiction genre, from stories based on 19th Century novels like "A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court" to recent favorites like "The Time Traveler's Wife." Time travel movies often deal with the repercussions of going back to the past and altering some minor event, with major consequences. Here are some of the best time travel movies produced over the years.

  1. "Back to the Future" - Robert Zemeckis' opus, starring Michael J. Fox as a teenager from 1985 going back to 1955 and accidentally interrupting the meeting between his mother and father, is a hilarious, intricate, and creative blockbuster classic. While in the past, he has to set everything back on track or he will never exist, along with the help of Doc Brown, the man who will invent the time machine in the future. It set the standard of time travel movies ever since and has yet to be matched, even by its two still-entertaining but inferior sequels.
  2. "Time After Time" – This fantastical film has H.G. Wells, author of "The Time Machine," as its main character, traveling forward in time, along with Jack the Ripper, played by the always villainous David Warner. A romantic fantasy adventure, it is an often-forgotten classic among time travel movies. Wells, played by Malcolm McDowell, ends up falling in love with a woman from the present, stopping Jack the Ripper, and returning home in his time machine to write his famous novel.
  3. "A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court" - This classic, based on the novel by Mark Twain, is a funny film perfect for a family audience, and set an example for many time travel movies to come, even slightly parodied in Martin Lawrence's "Black Knight." After a blow to the head, Hank Morgan, a man of the 19th Century, awakens in the time of Camelot. He uses scientific knowledge, including a list of the history of solar eclipses, to convince the medieval people he has magical abilities and save the court.
  4. "12 Monkeys" – The darkest film on our list of time travel movies, "12 Monkeys" is at its core about the unavoidable nature of fate. James Cole, a prisoner in a post-apocalyptic world after a deadly virus has forced the human population underground, accepts a pardon in return for returning in time travel missions to the past to learn about the virus and perhaps stop it. When he learns that the terrorist organization thought to be responsible for loosing the virus on the world actually was not, he decides to remain in the past, but the future catches up with him. It is a compelling film.
  5. "Donnie Darko" – An instant cult classic, this entry on our list of time travel movies isn't for everyone, but it has a very hardcore fan base. It also has a soundtrack full of classic eighties music, and can act as a time machine in and of itself to anyone who lived through that era. Jake Gyllenhaal, in his breakthrough role, plays the titular character, who learns that the world will end in twenty-eight days. Though he cannot stop it, he enters a wormhole which takes him back twenty-eight days again, and his decision whether or not to act makes up the ending of the movie. 
  6. "Timecop" – This Peter Hyams effort is smarter than the average Jean-Claude Van Damne action-adventure vehicle. With Ron Silver as the villain and Mia Sara as the lovely love interest, it's not the greatest time travel movie but not a bad way to pass a few hours. As a cop whose wife was killed in the past, Van Damne travels back to prevent future crimes, and is tempted to save his wife. As one might guess, it ends happily ever after.
Do you like this story?