The time travel genre is a unique concept that fills the mind with mystery and science fiction mayhem. Time travel films allow audiences to visualize exotic locales and distant eras that they only read about in textbooks. Although technology hasn’t advanced enough for time travel, in reality, this genre is supported by a constant flow of movies that keep enthralling the masses. Here today we have compiled a list of the best time travel movies of all time that will surely mystify you in every way:
25. The Philadelphia Experiment (1984)
A critically acclaimed film, as well as reported to be based on a true story, this film’s true strength lies in its engaging plot, known to be far ahead of its time.
An escort to a United States Navy destroyer ship takes part in an experiment to test invisibility. However, two unsuspecting sailors caught in the cloaking get four decades into the future.
24. The Time Traveler’s Wife (2009)
The Time Traveler’s Wife is a romantic sci-fi film based on the 2003 novel of the same name by Audrey Niffenegger. It is a touching story of the romance between a librarian with a genetic mutation that causes him to time travel randomly and a girl that he meets during one of his trips to the past.
The films beautifully showcase the intertwined lives of the two lovers and the unique complications of their marriage.
23. Déjà Vu (2006)
Another exquisite and beautifully crafted story, this movie certainly doesn’t disappoint at all. The story follows BATF agent Doug Carlin who is sent back four days in time to stop a devastating explosion and decides to rescue the woman whose truck was used in the explosion, falling in love with her in the process.
It’s a film that is easy to get emotionally invested in.
22. Hot Tub Time Machine (2010)
The first comedy on this list, Hot Tub Time Machine features two friends and one of their nephews on holiday at a ski resort who are sent back in time due to a malfunction in a time machine.
Now the friends must do everything in their power to keep everything about this night exactly the same, so as not to interfere with the birth of the nephew.
21. Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure (1989)
The second comedy on this list, and a surprise hit of the late 1980s, this film follows two apparently dumb high school students who are assigned a historical presentation. To prepare for this and complete the assignment, the two friends travel back in time to witness history being written firsthand.
A PG comedy, its amusing dialogue, and witty jokes coupled with some fine acting make this film worthwhile.
20. Primer (2004)
Four friends and aspiring entrepreneurs set out on a quest to build bigger and more technologically advanced and creative machines than the spell check they’ve invented together, and begin to disagree over their new potential masterpiece.
A slightly more technical film, this is science fiction at its purest. It is mind-boggling to see the level of cinematic excellence that can be achieved with a mere $7,000 film budget.
19. Army of Darkness (1992)
A sequel to the two Evil Dead movies, the series reprises Ash (played by Bruce Campbell) as the protagonist, who is sent back to the middle ages (around 1300 AD) to battle an army of the fallen and the dead so he can retrieve the lost treasure which is the Necronomicon and finally return to his own time.
An interesting blend of horror and comedy, Army of Darkness was directed by none other than Sam Raimi – the same person who would go on to make the highly successful Spider-Man trilogy and the critically acclaimed, Drag Me to Hell.
18. Triangle (2009)
A mystery-crime drama that exceeded expectations, Triangle is an original, well-written, and well-directed film that features an extremely tenebrous plot that forced audiences worldwide to watch the film multiple times, simply to get a glimpse of what actually is happening.
The film starts with a yachting trip in the Atlantic Ocean that is subjected to some unexpected and mysterious weather conditions. The passengers board another boat but discover they are plagued by greater and graver danger on the open sea.
17. The Time Machine (1960)
An adventure and romance movie based on the novel of the same name by fantasy novelist extraordinaire HG Wells, the movie stars an Englishman of the Victorian era who travels to the distant future, only to discover there is a great divide between two factions of humankind.
A great film of its time; however, today sadly it might not live up to expectations because of its relatively poor animation and comically colorful costumes.
16. Time Crimes (2007)
One of the more realistic (as far as time travel goes) movies on this list, Timecrimes is a thriller that shows the travel of a man back exactly one hour in time. The simple shift in the natural order of things causes a landslide of unforeseeable consequences.
This movie is perfect in the sense that every plot hole is covered with special attention to each and every detail, as well as accurately depicting the consequences of time travel.
15. Flight of the Navigator (1986)
The first and only Walt Disney movie on this list, this family adventure movie set in 1976 centers around a boy who is transported 8 years into the future.
Now he must confront and deal with the aliens that caused and were responsible for his transportation and safely navigate his way back home.
14. Safety Not Guaranteed (2012)
Another drama and romantic comedy, this film has three employees for a magazine simultaneously set out to seek a man who discreetly requested for an ad to be placed in the local newspaper, looking for a travel companion on his journey through time.
The portrayal of the characters in this movie made the movie itself memorable. It’s a well-crafted story to withstand the test of time.
13. Time After Time (1979)
HG Wells, mentioned above, one of the most famous sci-fi writers ever, is the main character in this film. This film has him chasing real-life mid-nineteenth century serial killer Jack the Ripper to the 20th Century as the killer accidentally uses his time machine to transport himself to the future.
Initially, it has all the makings of a bad film, but later on, as the plot progresses it actually turns out to be very enjoyable.
12. Donnie Darko (2001)
This is a mystery film about a schizophrenic, troubled teenager who has visions of a life-sized bunny rabbit after a horrific accident, which manipulates and puppeteers him into committing grave crimes.
This may seem a comical concept, however, in reality, it is one of the most hauntingly powerful and serious movies on this entire list.
11. Source Code (2011)
A blockbuster movie with overwhelming critical acclaim, starring the same actor as the movie above, the Source Code is an action thriller centered around a man who wakes up in a stranger’s body and learns that he is part of an elaborate scheme to find the bomber of a large commercial Chicago train.
It is one of the few thrillers that can stand without exaggeration or hyperbole thanks to its extremely original storyline.
10. Twelve Monkeys (1995)
Twelve Monkeys is a futuristic sci-fi movie starring a convict who is sent back in time to the present world to discover the antidote to a deadly artificial virus, which has wiped out most of humankind (in the future).
Basically, it’s an ‘I Am Legend’ sprinkled with time travel (if this was truly the inspiration for I Am Legend then it surely had a very solid foundation indeed).
9. Time Bandits (1981)
Another family comedy adventure, again starring a young boy, though this time he joins forces with a gang of dwarves as they hunt for treasure by hopping from time period to time period, after stealing a map to the Universe Holes from the Supreme Being (god).
Despite its PG rating, it is a thought-provoking movie and a definitive work on good and evil.
8. The Girl Who Leapt Through Time (2006)
The only anime on this list, this Japanese film stars a teenage girl who discovers her curious ability to jump through space and time.
As all teenagers would, she attempts to use her powers to her advantage but is made aware of the fact that traveling through dimensions can yield some very disconcerting results.
7. Run Lola Run (1998)
Run Lola Run is another action thriller refreshingly set in Germany in which a German runner has the task of finding and collecting 100,000 Deutschmarks for her boyfriend in twenty minutes or less, to prevent him from robbing a bank to obtain the money.
Things soon afterward turn out to be as weird as time travel can get!
6. Groundhog Day (1993)
A shockingly popular film starring a comedic genius smack in the middle of his element, this film has become a part of pop culture forever. This film has a great premise and it’s hard to pinpoint just what’s so good about it, but simply put, everything just clicks right into place.
The plot revolves around a weatherman of a local news channel who is forced to repeat the same day over and over again.
5. Looper (2012)
A modern-day film set in 2074, where instead of simply hiring an assassin to kill a man, a mob sends their target thirty years into the past, where they have stationed a hired gun to kill him.
A clever idea to cleanly kill a man with no evidence to tie the perpetrators to the victim is the main foundation of the film that makes it such an interesting concept.
4. Planet of the Apes (1968)
This creative and engaging story is the original film that spawned all the several reboots we see today and is a heavy part of modern-day pop culture.
The film starts with an astronaut crew crash landing on a strange and mysterious planet in the far future where apes are an intelligent sentient race and are the dominant species, whereas humans are kept as slaves and oppressed heavily (it’s amusing to witness the depiction of racism even in the apes’ society).
3. Star Trek (2009)
The reboot of a franchise that was wildly popular amongst the internet community and sci-fi geeks. Star Trek stars James Kirk, a brash, abrasive young man trying to live up to the legacy of his father. He is kept in check by Mr. Spock.
Together they must stop an evil, vengeful Romulan out to destroy the universe with black holes.
2. The Terminator (1984)
This is a film that spawned an entire franchise and needs no introduction, directed by the maker of Avatar and Titanic.
The plot is focused on a robot assassin from the wasteland of the future who is sent back in time to kill a young waitress, whose son is fated to rise up and start a war against all machines to completely wipe them out, and free humanity from their cruel control.
1. Back To The Future (1985)
A teenager has inadvertently warped to thirty years prior to the present day thanks to the time-traveling machine invented by his friend, the slightly mad scientist Dr. Emmett Brown. Now, to save his very own existence, he must cause his parents, in their high school years, to fall in love with each other.
Back To The Future is a cult classic and remains one of the most popular and influential time travel movies to date. It wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say that even today time travel is synonymous with the Back to the Future franchise.
Our list of the best time travel movies of all time cannot accomplish its objective without mentioning these titles also:
- Timecop (1994)
- The Jacket (2005)
- The Butterfly Effect (2004)
What titles come to your mind when you think of some cool time travel films? Share with us a few names in the comments section below!