Time Travel Movies are intriguing and it's no wonder -- time travel is something that has fascinated scientists, boffins and sci-fi geeks for decades. In fact H.G. Wells’ novel The Time Machine was published in 1895, so even before cars were commonplace and air travel had been invented, the idea of travelling between time dimensions was a subject of wonderment. For someone of us, even being able to turn back the clock 24 hours would prove a godsend but for those who dream of time travel on a more grandiose scale, it different centuries and different periods in history that’s the attraction. The wonders of cinema can help us reach far into the depths of times long since passed with an insight as to what life may have been back then, or indeed will be like in the future. In these 9 Fantastical and Mindbending Time Travel Movies you’ll be swept along on a ride of discovery, astonishment, incredulity and wonderment. Time travel movies might make you believe or disbelieve, but whatever – you’ll be entertained.
1. Hot Tub Time Machine
If there was any movie idea which had to have been conceived inside a very weird mind, it’s this one. Basically a bunch of friends go to a ski resort, sit in a hot tub, drink a Russian energy drink, and they are then transported back to the 1980s. So, the basic premise of time travel is vodka and foamy water. Of course, with these being the major tools, the only time period they could have possibly ended up was the 1980s. The age of big hair, ra-ra skirts, poppy pop music and the yuppie! Those were the days. "It must be some kind of hot tub time machine...”
2. Austin Powers: the Spy Who Shagged Me
One of the daftest time travel movies around. Dr. Evil returns to 1969 to steal Austin Powers’ mojo leaving him somewhat lacking in the sex department. Most normal guys would reach for the porn mag or a tab of Viagra but not super swinger Powers. He too travels back in time to foil Dr. Evil’s heinous plans to hold the US government to ransom for 1 billion dollars and naturally, to get his mojo back. "I want a kajillion bajillion dollars."
3. Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure
This time travel movie is a dream way of studying for that history assignment. Two hopeless metal heads travel through time picking up various historical figures along the way, learning not only about history but the importance of education. Every good movie has to have a moralistic sub-plot right? In Bill and Ted, our hapless, witless protagonists manage to turn in an outstanding report and avoid military school with the aid of Napoleon, Aristotle and Genghis Khan among a real motley crew of historical misfits. “Party on dudes!”
4. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
In the world of Harry Potter, magic is normal so it’s no real surprise when time travel is introduced. It comes to life when in the third of J K Rowling’s series Hermione uses her Time Turner to take herself and Harry back in time to save both Sirius Black and Buckbeak the Hippogriff, from their impending sentences of death. “Expecto patronum.”
5. Time Bandits
Time traveling, treasure stealing dwarves, a rather slow-witted Robin Hood, a somewhat neurotic Napoleon and heroic king Agamemnon all battle the Supreme Being in this fantastical fairy tale from Terry Gilliam – more widely known for his weird and wonderful animations for the Monty Python team. In true fairy tale tradition, the time travel portal is a wardrobe that stands in the bedroom of an 11 year old boy. Look out for a whole host of British stars including members of Monty Python. “So this is the best the Supreme Being can do?”
6. A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court
Hollywood at its improbable best. Where else could you see Bing Crosby, a New England mechanic ending up in Medieval Britain at the court of King Arthur, other than on a major studio’s celluloid spectacular? This time travel movie combines tinsel town’s rather myopic view of Camelot with the crooning, bad jumper wearing, pipe smoking film legend to produce something that is akin to treacle being washed down with molasses. A movie to watch when you’re “busy doing nothing.”
7. It’s a Wonderful Life
Widely touted as one of the best films ever and very much traditional fayre at Christmas. After being set up by the town baddie, James Stewart’s George Bailey character is taken on a journey back in time by Clarence the Angel to be shown what life would have been like in hometown, USA (Bedford Falls) had he never existed. The time travel sequence proves to George it has indeed been a wonderful life and being a Christmas movie, naturally, he heads back home to the bosom of his adoring family rather than drowning in the icy river. Big on Schmalz but even bigger on the point of everyone’s life has meaning and value, it really is a wonderful life. "Did you know that every time a bell rings an angel gets its wings?"
8. Star Trek IV: the Voyage Home
No list of time travel movies would be complete without a contribution from the sci-fi genre. I could have chosen spoof Galaxy Quest, the eerie Philadelphia Experiment, haunting Slaughterhouse Five but being a bit of a closet Trekkie, I just had to plump for Star Trek. In the fourth of the Star Trek movies, Kirk and crew are on their way back to earth in a captured Klingon warship after rescuing a resurrected Spock. Earth is being threatened by a probe that can only be answered by a species of whale that has been extinct for centuries. The intrepid space explorers have to perform a sling shot around the sun to travel back in time to pick up a pair of whales in 1980’s San Francisco and transport them back to the 24th century. “Captain, there be whales on board!”
9. Les Visiteurs
I’ve saved the best till last. I am now going to go out on a limb and say that if you only ever see one French movie in your lifetime make it this one. If you don’t pee your pants laughing I will eat my beret. The magnificent Jean Reno and Christian Clavier play a medieval knight and squire who are spirited headlong from the 12th century into 1990s France. At its heart it has everything a fantasy tale needs, a beautiful princess, a lovelorn suitor and a seemingly impossible quest. Not only is this a time travel movie par excellence but it is worthy of the accolade as one of the funniest films ever. “Let's see if you turn into a nun's arse. If you do, I'll seek revenge.”
The films I have chosen are obviously my personal preferences and there are plenty more time travel movies that didn’t make the list. Time travel movies take us back to the time of dinosaurs, forward to the future where we fly to work and eat food in the form of pills. They solve mysteries, send us on hunts to find the answers to riddles or reunite long lost loved ones. Nothing is immune to the vagaries of time. I hope these 9 Fantastical and Mindbending Time Travel Movies take you on some unforgettable journeys. Do you agree with my choices or do you have favorites of your own?
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