Project Almanac came out this past weekend and failed to impress audiences. The film ended up opening in third place with a disappointing $8.5 million take, probably more to do with the tired found footage aspects rather than the fact that it was a time travel movie.
With that said, the writers of Renegade Cinema love them some time travel movies. While some of the best in the genre didn’t make the cut (Primer and Terminator as two great examples), check out what we consider our favorite time travel movies of all time.
Ruby Le Rouge: I have to go with nostalgia again and pick Terry Gilliam’s Time Bandits. Loved this movie as a kidlett, and still do. Gilliam’s brain has been the source of many of my favorite films, Brazil, Adventures of Baron Munchausen, and this one of course. (He also created one of the most disturbing movies I’ve ever seen with ‘Tideland’, and since I write mostly about horror flicks, that’s saying something). Plus, the cast is just awesome, Sean Connery, John Cleese, David Rappaport, and of course David Warner as Evil himself (Who else?).
Back to the Future
Derek Johns: Whenever you think of time travelling in movies, it’s almost impossible not to think of Back to the Future and for good reason. You’ve got the serious ones like The Terminator, the adventures like The Time Machine and the funny ones like Bill and Ted but Back to the Future serves as a fantastic blend of all three. The film understands the implications of time travel but at the same time knows how to have fun with the concept too. Also, you can never go wrong with Michael J. Fox.
Back To The Future II
Caliber Winfield: As much as I love the original, it’s the sequel my heart truly belongs to. If there’s one word I had to use to describe it, it’d simply be fun. It’s a lot of fun going to the future and seeing JAWS 19, double-ties, the antique shop that’s actually an antique shop now, all the awesome clothes & advancements. Jajitsu-san! MUCFLY!
Then we get to head into the Biff owned 1985, which is awesome because the more Biff, the better. We get to venture back into the original film, and see it from another angle.
There is so much original material in this film it’s ridiculous, and makes it absolutely one of a kind. Trying to follow the original film is practically a death sentence, but they went above and beyond, and created one of the greatest films of all time.
Caleb Masters: It’s difficult to put such a recent flick in the realm of greatest time travel movies ever made, but Looper left such an impression in 2012 that it’s impossible to ignore. The movie smartly decides to avoid over-explaining its paradoxical nature and relies more on the character driven concept driving the story. What if you could go back and time to stop Hitler and the only thing in your way was a younger you?
Looper crafts a mythology rich world filled with an ambiguous use of time travel and an unclear good/evil. It’s an unconventional character study detailing the differences we all have in our priorities in our youths and old age. It’s a rich concept that is complimented by stellar performances from Joseph Gordon Levitt, Bruce Willis, and Emily Blunt all lead by Rian Johnson’s imaginative vision. There are a lot of really excellent time travel movies out there, but none of them feel as relevant as Looper.
Time After Time (1979)
Bethany Lewis: Time After Time, in which Jack the Ripper escapes to the future in H.G. Wells’s time machine and becomes a ruthless titan of finance and business – and also still a serial murderer. What makes it even better is that Wells is played by Malcolm McDowell and that the Ripper is played by David Warner. Throw Mary Steenburgen in there as a love interest and you have yourself a campy little satire on modern morality and the business world.
Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure
Sandi Davis: My go-to movie with time travel is 1989”s Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure. This stoner-friendly tale flash from Bill S. Preston and Ted “Theodore” Logan’s 1989 present to 2288, making stops all over the past to pick up famous men — all so the guys can pass their history class and keep Ted from going to a military school in Alaska.
Their time machine is a beaten up old phone booth sometimes piloted by the futuristic Rufus(George Carlin), who worships at the boys shrine and drops in from time to time to check on the pair’s progress.
Amazingly, the boys will form a megaband called Wild Stallions which will turn the world into a Utopia founded on rock ‘n’ roll, but only if they pass history..
Their report, with eyewitness accounts by the likes of Genghis Kahn, Abraham Lincoln, Billy the Kid, Socrates, Joan of Arc, Freud, Beethoven and Napoleon, is hilarious and makes this movie my favorite time travel flick.
Shawn S. Lealos: You know things are great when there are two Terry Gilliam movies on the list. Honestly, 12 Monkeys is not just my favorite time travel movie of all time, but is somewhere in my Top 10 favorite movies of all time, regardless of genre. Basically, Bruce Willis plays a criminal in the future, where the world is uninhabitable for humans (although animals roam free). He is sent back in time to figure out who the mysterious 12 Monkeys were, because scientists in the future believes that holds the key to what killed the world. He is also told not to try to change things because they just want to fix the future, not change the past. It is smart, it is trippy and it is damn near brilliant.