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Top 10 Time Travel Movies - Page 2

#5
The Time Machine (1960)
The Time Machine

While H.G. Wells' original story, The Time Machine, isn't technically the first time travel tale ever told, it is largely considered the birthplace of modern time-travel fiction. The 1960 film based on it, similarly, is not technically the first time travel movie, but it is the earliest mainstream example of time travel film that most people know about. But it isn't on this list just for being first, because it's also one of the best time travel movies out there. Though there are many things I like about the 2002 remake starring Guy Pearce, it doesn't hold a candle to the simplicity of the first. The story follows H.G. Wells (the original story's protagonist was unnamed) as he travels into the future. Wells eventually finds himself in the year 802,701 and meets a pastoral society of people known as the Eloi. They are constantly under siege by an underground civilization of monsters known as Morlocks, who attack at night to kidnap and ultimately eat the Eloi. What makes the movie so great is pretty much everything that separates it from the remake; it is simple, it doesn't contain much in the way of romance, and it isn't pretentious. But more than that, it stretches the imagination, forcing you to think about what the world could be like in eight hundred thousand years and realize that, no matter what you imagine, it will probably be far stranger.



#4
The Terminator
The Terminator

If you haven't seen The Terminator, then you cannot be considered a geek. The brainchild of James Cameron, the terminator (Arnold Schwarzenegger) is a killer robot clothed in human flesh who has come from a post-apocalyptic future in order to kill a waitress, Sarah Connor (Linda Hamilton), who is also the mother of humanity's future hero against the machines, John Connor. A soldier, Kyle Reese (Michael Biehn), has also traveled back in time to protect Sarah and (spoiler alert) also happens to be John's father. The movie hinges on how relentless and bad-ass the terminator is, and it contains by far the best action sequences of any movie on this list. I won't bore you again with my opinion of the movie's sequels, but if you're curious, you can find it elsewhere on my site.



#3
Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home
Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home

There are multiple Star Trek movies involving time-travel. The most recent one, Star Trek, deserves a mention just for using time travel as a novel way of rebooting the franchise, and Star Trek: First Contact is pretty awesome. Still, Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home is my favorite. For those of you who aren't trekkies or trekkers, the plot involves the Enterprise crew in a stolen Klingon ship travelling back in time to the 1980s in order to bring a pair of humpback whales into the future to communicate with an alien species that is pretty pissed that humpbacks have been hunted to extinction. It's an incredibly silly story, but the movie does not take itself seriously. It is great fun without devolving into complete and utter ridiculousness (that would come in Star Trek V: The Final Frontier), and successfully captures the spirit of adventure that defines the entire franchise.



#2
Primer
Primer

If somebody were to create a time machine today, I imagine it would happen much like it does in Primer, where a pair of engineers accidentally invent one in their garage while trying to create something else. The rules of their time machine are simple, in that they can only travel back to the point at which the machine (called only "the box") was first turned on. Things very quickly get compicated, however, with each man trying to thwart the other by the use of failsafe boxes, fake failsafe boxes, boxes within boxes, multiple iterations of the same person in the same time, and the arrival of somebody else who has apparently also traveled in time. The story doesn't shy away from the central problem of most time travel stories; as soon as the can of worms is opened, things become nearly impossible to follow or understand. Indeed, it takes several viewings just to understand the basics of the story's second act, much less the mind-twisting climax.



#1
Back to the Future
Back to the Future

Yes, the Back to the Future movies are all guilty of having infuriatingly inconsistent rules (and Part II contains a huge paradox), but at their heart, they are the best example of how to handle time travel in mainstream cinema and make it great. For the five people on the planet who don't know, Back to the Future chronicles the story of Marty McFly (Michael J. Fox), a young kid in 1985 who happens to be friends with a mad scientist, Doc Brown (Christopher Lloyd). Doc Brown brings Marty along on a test run of his new invention, a Delorean converted into a time machine powered by plutonium. When Libyans come in search of Doc Brown because he stole their plutonium, Marty is forced to jump in the time machine and travel back to 1955, where he accidentally interrupts the first meeting of his parents. He then has to get his young parents back together (while refusing the romantic advances of his own mother) and work with a younger Doc Brown to repair the time machine so he can get back to 1985. There is no one thing that makes Back to the Future stand above the rest of the movies on this list, but taken as a whole, it is easily the best.


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-e. magill 11/23/2010








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