I love science-fiction in all forms, but time travel holds a special place in my heart. I love how time travel can make us think about our past, present, and future all at the same time. It often deals with ideas like destiny, and how the choices we make affect our lives. Here are ten movies that I think are the best in the genre.

10. Twelve Monkeys

A man in the distant future is sent back in time to discover the source of a virus that decimated the human race. When he arrives in the past, he's committed to an institution and grapples with reality. Or is he a dangerous madman caught in a delusion? As he struggles to separate truth from fantasy, he finds himself falling in love. A trippy and thoughtful story of time and destiny.

9. The Time Machine

This classic adaptation of the first real time travel novel by H.G. Wells takes a time traveller into the distant future. There, he discovers a society where humanity has evolved into two species; the idyllic Eloi and the subterranean Morlocks. This movie featured groundbreaking special effects at the time, and still retains its charm.

8. Time After Time

When H.G. Wells invents a time machine, he accidentally allows someone to travel back to the 1970's: Jack the Ripper. Wells must struggle to adjust to the present while trying to catch a vicious serial killer. This movie really captures a fish-out-of-water feel while making us think about our modern times.

7. Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home

When Earth is threatened by a powerful spaceship, only a song from a humpback whale can save it. But since the whale is extinct, the crew of the Enterprise must travel back in time to find one. This movie isn't about heavy themes like prejudice or the effects of war. It's about just plain fun. The humor and special effects still hold up.

6. Donnie Darko

When a manic-depressive teen survives a jet engine crashing into his bedroom, he becomes haunted by visions of a mysterious giant rabbit, tubes coming out of people that predict their path, and hints of a dawning apocalypse. Few movies have been able to combine teen alienation with themes of predestination as well as this one.

5. Looper

When criminals in the future want to kill, they send people back in time to assassins called "loopers." But when a looper is sent back an older version of himself, he has to work to solve the mystery. One of the best time travel movies in recent years.

4. Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure

Two moronic metal-loving California teens have to pass a history test, but have no clue how to do it. Fortunately, they get a little help from a time traveler who takes them into the past to gather up historical figures. Few fictional time travelers have been as goofy, clueless, and fun about their travels as Bill and Ted.

3. Groundhog Day

When a cynical weatherman shows up at a small town to cover Groundhog Day, he wakes up to find the day starting over. And it starts over again. And again. Trapped in the same day and town, he learns to slow down, learn new skills, and become a better person. This movie is fun, sweet, and charming in a genre that rarely captures all three.

2. The Terminator

When two mysterious men pursue a seemingly ordinary woman, she discovers she's the key to human survival in the future. One is a soldier from a post-apocalyptic future, and the other is an unstoppable robot sent to keep her from giving birth to a heroic child. Combining action, romance, and some mind-bending concepts, it set a standard for future films.

1. Back to the Future

When a teenager is sent back in time, he accidentally prevents his parents from falling in love. To keep from changing the present and erasing his own existence, he has to navigate the fifties and play matchmaker to his own mother and father. Without a doubt, BTTF is one of the most fun and popular time travel movies ever made, while still managing to get deep into the logistics of time and space.

What other time travel movies did you enjoy? Which movie is your favorite?

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Looper was a great recent time travel movie. The Time Machine has stood the test of time. It is still a great movie.

Nisse Söderström said...

Good list, however Im missing the old school Planet of the Apes series (at least 1 - 3). Those were always good :)

Shannon Lawrence said...

Excellent list! I've never seen Time After Time, so will have to check that out (somehow). I'll probably randomly think of another time travel movie later, like when I'm trying to sleep, but I can't think of one now.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Nisse - good catch! Planet of the Apes should be on the list.
The Terminator films would top mine, along with Looper and Star Trek IV.

MasterElwood said...

First Contact.

Pat Dilloway said...

Terminator 2 is better than the first one. Bill & Ted was totally excellent, but its sequel was most bogus.

Dave said...

Star Trek IV is about the extinction of whales. The success of the movie is that it deals with heavy themes in a very light way.

Tony Laplume said...

Source Code.

jeremy [retro] said...

time travel gets to be very messy, i am okay with it... one step in the wrong direction, bump into someone... it could kill everyone. the star trek [reboot] had a great time premise... it changed everything, even the most important screw up of the "into darkness". khan could have been british... because how do we know in the original series in the numerous times the enterprise crew visited the past, before khan was created... that they unknowing fixed a time rip. in the new film they are on their five year journey as the end of the film lead us to believe. all the events for them to take the journey have changed, the journey has changed, events have changed, time travel... changed.

Mia Hayson said...

You know, I am very much hoping The Edge of Tomorrow turns into a great time travelling film. I read the translated book "All You Need is Kill" and it was brilliant. Fingers crossed! <3

Edge of Tomorrow said...

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Nobody said...

What, no "Safety Not Guaranteed"?!

Ben D said...

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The Rook said...

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Edge of Tomorrow said...

i have seen this again nice article dude keep it up.

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