More than likely you’re not going to find out you’re a famous pirate or superhero in an alternate reality but wouldn’t you like to at least see what you, version 350, is up to? In these seven bizarre parallel universe movies, things don’t end up all cupcakes and unicorns but at least you get to peek without accidentally making out with your grandmother.
“Back to the Future”
Today’s kids aren’t allowed to reach the end of the driveway before their GPS monitoring units shock them back to the porch, but back in the 80's kids could hang out with single, mad scientists without anyone calling Child Services. As Marty McFly gets thrown through time in “Back to the Future,” he does the normal teenage stuff like messing up not just his future but his family’s timeline. Seeing his father get bullied at the diner has to be a rough game changer for Marty now that he’s seeing his dad at his age.
Frank the bunny, not to be confused with that co-dependent Pat the Bunny, tells Donnie that the world is about to face-plant in less than a month thus sending Donnie on a spiral down the figurative rabbit hole. Dark events unfold as Donnie tries to comprehend what the end of this life means both to himself and his world. Donnie’s public dismissal of the motivational speaker Cunningham showcases the type of courage one would have when they know it’s all going to end soon.
A crafty killer is jumping universes and slaughtering the alternate versions of himself in order to gain some serious powers from their elimination. With only one version to go, YuLaw hunts down Earth’s Gabe Law in “The One” so he can become the loneliest number. The battle between Gabe and YuLaw at the factory is the type of visceral, shallow fun that not taking a parallel universe story too seriously creates.
“Run Lola Run”
Focused on the three runs Lola makes to help save her boyfriend Manni get money to his underworld boss, “Run Lola Run” plays with tiny butterfly effects and their consequences, or lack thereof. Each run features different possibilities resulting in unique endings. Lola’s three encounters with the mother with the carriage are great as one leads to absolutely nothing noteworthy happening to the mother, thus showing the possibility of Lola having zero effect on a life.
Mixing time travel and criminals, “Looper” avoids the tired genre of goody-two-shoes trying to punch out Hitler or avoid cheating with their ex’s twin sister. Instead it sends you barreling straight into a morality play on present actions and future repercussions. Loopers are the assassins of today, killing then cleaning up bodies of targets sent back from the future. These hitmen know that eventually they’ll have to end their future self’s life with the knowledge that they’ll have a few decades to enjoy their retirement, as they are paid well for their career choice. The look on Future Joe's face after he takes care of the child who will become “The Rainmaker” in the future is something terrible yet human to behold.
Two engineers in an after-hours invention group end up inadvertently creating a time machine. This potential exploit for their past ends up in a spiral of greed and double crossing between the two, leading to a movie that’s brilliantly confusing as storylines progress and tangle in “Primer.” Abe finding the failsafe that he’s hidden from himself is one of many scenes that makes you wish you had paid more attention in your high school quantum entanglement class.
Experimental devices normally end with giant earthquakes or advanced hair on your back but in “Source Code” the device is used to stop a bombing. Captain Stevens ends up in the machine and able to be sent into the body of a passenger on a train with eight minutes to figure out who is the bomber of the train and what his targets are. With multiple runs on the train, evidence is accumulated until Stevens figures it out. The ending scene, without spoilers, is an intimate scene full of the possibilities alternate universes might hold.