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Thursday, 8 December 2011

The 20 Best Time Travel Movies



  Title Year Metascore
1 Back to the Future

1985 n/a n/a
Means of Travel: A flux capacitor-equipped DeLorean
Arguably the best time travel movie of them all is Robert Zemeckis' 1985 comedy about an eccentric scientist (Christopher Lloyd) who accidentally sends his young friend (Michael J. Fox) 30 years into the past. A perfect blend of humor and an interesting, self-contained story (naturally, there were two sequels), "Back to the Future" was 1985's highest-grossing film.
2 The Terminator

1984 84 8.7
Means of Travel: Time Displacement Sphere
James Cameron's low-budget classic introduced one of the big screen's most iconic sci-fi characters. Future governor Arnold Schwarzenegger plays a cyborg assassin transported backward in time from a post-apocalyptic future to prevent the birth of a future rebel leader.
3 Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home

1986 n/a n/a
Means of Travel: A Klingon Bird-of-Prey that slingshots around the Sun
Remember, the even numbered "Star Trek" movies are the good ones (well, with one major exception), and this fourth installment was the second-best of the bunch. The funniest of all the Trek films, "Voyage Home" provided the one-time Enterprise crew with an unassailable reason to travel back in time to 20th century Earth: to save the whales.
4 The Time Machine [1960]

1960 n/a n/a
Means of Travel: A time machine
The best film adaptation of H.G. Wells' classic novel was this 1960 release from the UK, directed by George Pal. An Oscar-winner for its visual effects, "The Time Machine" traces the journey of a man from Victorian England as he visits three world wars (including a nuclear war in the late 1960s) before reaching the very distant future.
5 Time After Time

1979 n/a n/a
Means of Travel: A time machine
Also inspired by H.G. Wells' "The Time Machine," the Nicholas Meyer-directed "Time After Time" cleverly uses Wells himself as the protagonist and imagines that the author was able to build a working time machine. But when Jack the Ripper uses the machine to escape to the future -- 1979 San Francisco -- Wells (Malcolm McDowell) follows to track down the killer.
6 Star Trek

2009 83 7.9
Means of Travel: A black hole propels two ships back in time
J.J. Abrams' commercially-successful reboot of the Star Trek franchise used time travel as a way to reintroduce old characters without needing to adhere to canon. As a result of intervention from the future, a young Kirk, Spock, and the rest of the original series Enterprise crew will now follow a different timeline through what will no doubt be a number of sequels, including one coming in 2012.
7 Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban

2004 81 6.6
Means of Travel: Time-turner
While time travel movies generally fall under the heading "science fiction," this third installment in the Harry Potter series is one of a few examples of a fantasy dealing with such subject matter. Although time travel is not the major focus of the story, young Hermione does use a magical time-turner device both to attend extra classes (something we would not have done with our time machine, thank you) and to go back a few hours in time to save the day.
8 12 Monkeys

1996 74 8.4
Means of Travel: A time machine
Terry Gilliam's trippy thriller (based on the French short "La Jetée") is one of the more thought-provoking entries on this list, and time travel plays a major role in the film. Bruce Willis plays a criminal who is transported back in time from a post-apocalyptic future in an attempt to prevent the outbreak of a virus that wipes out most of the world's population.
9 Peggy Sue Got Married

1986 n/a n/a
Means of Travel: A fainting spell
A woman (the Oscar-nominated Kathleen Turner) faints at her 25-year high school reunion, only to wake up back in 1960, during her senior year of high school. A rare 1980s hit for director Francis Ford Coppola, this sweet-natured comedy also starred an odd-voiced Nicolas Cage and a very young Jim Carrey.
10 Time Bandits

1981 n/a n/a
Means of Travel: A map of space and time
The second entry for Terry Gilliam on this list was co-written by the director with fellow Monty Python alumnus Michael Palin. The PG-rated fantasy follows the fantastical adventures of an 11-year-old boy who, along with a group of dwarves, travels through time and space, visiting such figures as Robin Hood and Napoleon and battling an evil force known as Evil. John Cleese and Sean Connery are among the stars.
11 Donnie Darko

2001 71 9.2
Means of Travel: It's complicated
For a movie that references a (fictional) book called "Philosophy of Time Travel," there isn't a whole lot of actual time traveling actually done by the film's characters. Still, Richard Kelly's confusing cult classic (which is complicated further by the release of an alternate version) is set into motion by the arrival of a falling jet engine from the future. Or is it?
12 Star Trek: First Contact

1996 70 9.0
Means of Travel: A Borg-created temporal vortex
The only decent Star Trek film to feature the "Next Generation" characters, "First Contact" finds the crew of the Enterprise-E visiting Earth in the distant past (2063) in order to prevent the Borg from changing human history at a key moment in time: Zefram Cochrane's first warp flight.
13 Terminator 2: Judgment Day

1991 69 9.5
Means of Travel: Time Displacement Sphere
Not one but two cyborgs are sent back in time from the future in James Cameron's wildly successful sequel. The catch, of course, is that this time, the Arnold Schwarzenegger model is the good guy, sent by resistance leader John Connor to protect his younger self from assassination by a shapeshifting T-1000.
14 Back to the Future Part III

1990 n/a n/a
Means of Travel: A flux capacitor-equipped DeLorean plus a flux capacitor-equipped locomotive
"Back to the Future" didn't really need a sequel, so of course, it got two. Of the pair, "Part III" is easily the more entertaining (and the one with the better reviews), ditching the back-and-forth action of the second film to settle down 100 years in the past, in the Old West.
15 Primer

2004 68 7.3
Means of Travel: A time machine (aka "the box")
This no-budget sci-fi thriller wowed audiences at Sundance (where it won the Grand Jury Prize) with its thought-provoking and original look at the consequences of time travel. Although too complex for some viewers, the film examines how the lives of two engineers change (changed? will change?) when they accidentally invent a machine that allows them to travel into the not-too-distant past.
16 Timecrimes (Los Cronocrímenes)

2008 68 8.0
Means of Travel: A liquid-filled time machine
This low-budget, character-driven Spanish thriller pleased many critics with its intriguing (and refreshingly easy-to-follow) story about a man who travels a few hours back in time and encounters himself.
17 Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure

1989 44 10.0
Means of Travel: A phone booth
Only a 44? Now that's bogus. Partly attributable to the fact that we only have a few reviews in our database, and partly because critics didn't fully appreciate its excellence, this classic comedy does indeed have a low score, but it's not representative of the film's goofy likability and enduring popularity. Keanu Reeves and Alex Winter play two slackers who travel through time to get help with their high school history presentation.
18 Escape from the Planet of the Apes

1971 n/a n/a
Means of Travel: A repaired spaceship propelled through time by the shockwave of future Earth's nuclear destruction
Generally regarded as the best of all the "Planet of the Apes" sequels, this third installment is also the most thought-provoking of the bunch, dealing not only with time travel but also a number of social issues, from women's rights to matters of race and class. The film works almost as a reverse of the original, with three apes from the future crash-landing on the human-inhabited past Earth of 1973.
19 Timecop

1994 n/a n/a
Means of Travel: A time machine
Okay, so it might not qualify as a good movie -- at least, according to conventional notions of good and bad. But on the Jean-Claude Van Damme scale, this story of a federal agent working for the Time Enforcement Commission (which is charged with preventing the use of time travel for personal gain) is actually quite entertaining, and ranks as the actor's biggest worldwide hit. The film doesn't make any attempt at scientific plausibility, but it does provide a nice preview of what the world will be like in 2004.
20 Hot Tub Time Machine

2010 xx n/a
Means of Travel: A hot tub

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