Best of the Best: Time Travel

In lieu of the theatrical re-release of Robert Zemeckis’ Back to the Future as part of its 25th anniversary, it seems appropriate to consider other films revolving around the concept of time-travel which have made a big impact on audiences worldwide.

Since the publishing of H. G. Wells’ iconic novel The Time Machine in 1895, science fiction has delved into the possibility of travelling through time through various different mediums ranging from the scientifically astute to the fun yet ludicrous. In light of this, it seems necessary to question what films seem to have encapsulated this paradoxical possibility in the best fashion.

10. Los Cronocrímenes (Timecrimes) (2007). This deeply disturbing thriller from Spanish director Nacho Vigalondo is an intelligent look at time travel that has you constantly questioning its validity and leaves you hanging onto the edge of your seat for its duration.

9. Time After Time (1979). Malcolm Mcdowell plays H. G. Wells in this entertaining classic that looks at the implications of merging literature with history and the effects that ensue.

8. Terminator 2: Judgement Day (1991). It is difficult to decide which is the better of the original two Terminator films, the latter releases not being worth a mention, but the second film has to take the biscuit with the introduction of Robert Patrick as the T1000. Either way, any film with Arnie as an autonomous robot where his accent and acting skills for once don’t appear ridiculous is pure cinema gold.

7. Time Bandits (1981). Terry Gilliam is a king of the fantasy film genre, and the brilliance of this film is indisputable, as cameos from Sean Connery as King Agamemnon, John Cleese as Robin Hood and an antagonist merely called “Evil” offers everything you could ever want in a film.

6. Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure (1989). Despite being completely logically inconsistent, this is a timeless classic (forgive the pun) that can be revisited on countless occasions. It is also probably the only film in which Keanu Reeves is actually any good.

5. Donnie Darko (2001). This cult classic which sees one teenager attempting to decipher the meaning behind his apocalyptic visions is a thought-provoking look at bending reality, although if we were to be pedantic, some argue that this is a film of tangent universes rather than time travel.

4. Primer (2004). The only decent time-travel film that takes a scientific stance, it attempts to make sense of the various paradoxes that would be involved in a possible time travelling world. A real mind bender, this film has to be watched multiple times and even then it is difficult to get your head round it.

3. The Time Machine (1960). Despite a terrible remake in 2002, this original based on Wells’ novel of the same name is the classic title that first brought the time travelling genre to the big screen.

2. Back to the Future (1985). Arguably the quintessential film on time travel, but sadly just missing out on the top spot. With excellent performances from Michael J. Fox and Christopher Lloyd, this is a must have in anybody’s film collection.

1. 12 Monkeys (1995). The second entry from Terry Gilliam, this post-apocalyptic thriller inspired by French film La Jetée sees Bruce Willis sent back in time to try and prevent a virus which has wiped out 99% of the human population. With a terrific performance from a young Brad Pitt, this is not just a brilliant time travel film but a must see in general.

Just missing out on a spot in the top 10, notable mentions have to go to: Groundhog Day (1993), Star Trek (2009), Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home (1986), Star Trek: First Contact (1996), Army of Darkness (1992) and Planet of the Apes (1968).

Taken from The Student, published Tue Oct 5th 2010.

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