Top Ten Time Travel Movies

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Top Ten Time Travel Movies

Deciding where to begin with a list of my top ten time travel movies wasn’t very hard. I had a handful of films already in mind when I started, as with most any list of this sort, the films I watched as I was growing up had a profound effect on me and therefore always effect the way lists such as this turn out. However, before I felt I could do a proper list there was much more than simply the films I’ve watched over my lifetime to consider. In order to be thorough I had to look elsewhere and at films I had yet to see.

On top of figuring out my favorites I also had to figure out whether some films should even be classified as “time travel movies.” Take Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (2004) for instance. Throughout the entire film Hermione uses a time-turner in order to make it to all of her classes. That alone certainly wasn’t enough to make it a time travel movie, but in the end the time-turner becomes quite the valuable asset. I decided for my own personal list Azkaban didn’t quite have enough qualities to make it a “time travel movie,” but when making your own list if you’d like to add it feel free.

Another movie I debated was A Christmas Carol (1938 or any number of other versions). Throughout this film Ebenezer Scrooge is taken back in time and even thrust into the future, but is it really a time travel movie? I decided it wasn’t for the purpose of my list since Scrooge was merely looking back in time and into the future rather than taking an active role.

There’s one other question mark that plagued me from start to finish, but I’ll get to that in a second, first for a selection that nearly made my top ten but fell just short. These films include Back to the Future Part III (1990), Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure (1989), Timecrimes (2007), La Jetee (1961) and Peggy Sue Got Married (1986). Of this five, Nacho Vigalondo’s Timecrimes was the closest to making it.

While making this list I watched Timecrimes for the first time and it’s one of those films that started to wear on me as it got to about the 75% mark, but just shortly after the intrigue builds and builds and builds to a terrific ending. Perhaps if this had been my second or third time watching the film, and it continued to work as much as it did the first time around, maybe it would’ve made the final list, but for now it lands just outside.

Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure is more of a nostalgic film than anything else and only in that I remember loving it back when I was 12, but today it is more of just a fun diversion. As for the sequel, Bill and Ted’s Bogus Journey (1991), I don’t believe I ever found it very good (even when I was 14) and it certainly hasn’t gotten any better with time.

Peggy Sue Got Married is decent, but not good enough to make this list, Back to the Future Part III is my second favorite of that trilogy and La Jetee I will talk about a little bit later down the line.

So, with those five films out of the way I have one more thing to mention before we get started. Over the process of putting this list together I asked several people if they thought The Terminator (1984) and Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991) were time travel movies. I never got a “no” and I never got a “yes”. I was stuck. Here are two films with plotlines that exist solely due to time travel, but when it comes to any specific amount of time travel in the film it’s more or less none. So, where does that leave us?

If I had deemed them to be time travel movies perhaps both would have made the list, but instead I decided I would keep them out because if I wasn’t 100% positive, I wasn’t going to include them. So what I decided was to award the two Terminator films an Honorary Mention. I don’t think this would be a proper Time Travel Top Ten if, at the very least, these two films weren’t mentioned. If you decide these are time travel movies feel free to include them in your personal top tens in the comments, I doubt you’ll get many arguments, but for the sake of my list I just couldn’t add them.

With that lengthy introduction out of the way, click here or on the navigation below to go to page two and let’s get started with my top ten.

Primer (2004)
Made on a $7,000 budget, Shane Carruth’s Primer made a quiet stir in 2004 and has remained part of the conversation ever since. This is a film that baffles and confounds and even still I have questions as to how it all fits together, but I have never doubted the plot’s legitimacy.

The film centers on two scientists, Aaron (Carruth) and Abe (David Sullivan), who accidentally build a time machine that allows them to travel backwards in time, but with a certain level of restrictions and risks I won’t get into here. At first they simply use the machine to cheat the stock market and make a little cash, but when they use it to manipulate situations that already happened things begin to fall apart.

Primer is a film to watch more than once, there is no question about it, and at 77 minutes long it isn’t as if it is begging for a lot of your time. If you haven’t yet seen it give it a shot and I’m sure you’ll find yourself intrigued and more than once saying, “What the hell?”

Timecop (1994)
I really do love this film and it never gets old. Watching it again for this top ten list was a joy, but then again I have pretty much always been a Jean-Claude Van Damme fan. At least when he was making theatrical releases… I haven’t seen any of his direct-to-video films.

Timecop features Van Damme as a Time Enforcement agent who finds himself chasing down a Senator (Ron Silver) using time travel to fund his presidential campaign. It features all the typical Van Damme ass kicking and some very old school CG time travel effects. I just wish I could personally go back in time and erase my familiarity with Gloria Reuben as that annoying nurse from “ER”. Her part in the film doesn’t do much for me.

Army of Darkness (1992)
As one of the only people writing online that doesn’t worship at the alter of Sam Raimi and his Evil Dead films, it may seem a bit surprising I would find the third film in the franchise to be damned entertaining.

Featuring Ash (Bruce Campbell) from the first two Evil Dead films, he finds himself transported back to the Middle Ages where he must find the fabled Necronomicon in order to get back to his own time. He must use his chainsaw arm and boomstick to fight a series of evil beings as well as a skeleton army of the dead led by the evil alter-ego of himself. It’s pure pleasure.

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