Since HG Wells wrote The Time Machine (1895) the imaginations of science fiction writers have been toying with the idea of time travel and its effects on both humanity, and history in the future and the past.
First of all, let me say this list of films is purely the creation of the result of the machinations of an idle mind born out of boredom on an uneventful evening primarily to amuse the mind of its creator. It is neither sanctioned or officially acknowledged by this website or anywhere, or anyone else.
That being said here is a list of my top five science fiction movies whose narratives depend on and are built around the notion of time travel created by technology for whatever reasons its creators saw fit in order to supply a story for the amusement of others.
The technology used in these films and the form it takes are as much a part of these films as the resulting time travel itself and add their own particular flavor to their story. From HG Wells enhanced comfy chair, to the starship Enterprise, to the classic DeLorean of Back To The Future these devices add their own brand of personality to these films and made them special and unique.
So without further ado here’s the list of my top five-time travel movies:
5. TimeCop (1994)
Featuring the talents of Jean-Claude Van Damme, whose prolific career dotted both the decades of the eighties and nineties with genre films comes to a production that was better than his average attempts at achieving superstardom as a living action figure.
Timecop is a science fiction action film directed by Peter Hyams and co-written by Mike Richardson and Mark Verheiden. Richardson also served as executive producer. The film is based on “Time Cop”, a story created by Richardson, written by Verheiden, and drawn by Ron Randall, which appeared in the anthology comic Dark Horse Comics, published by Dark Horse Comics.
The film stars Jean-Claude Van Damme as Max Walker, a police officer in 1994 and later a U.S. Federal Agent in 2004 when time travel has been made possible. It also stars Ron Silver as a rogue politician and Mia Sara as the agent’s wife. The story follows an interconnected web of episodes in the agent’s life as he fights time-travel crime and investigates the politician’s plans.
The plot involves Walker’s exploits as an enforcer of the regulations surrounding time travel to the past in order to effect the future of the world it involves an elaborate device immense in size that launches what looks like an unusual car capable of sending its passenger through time to a specific predetermined date.
Timecop remains Van Damme’s highest-grossing film (his second to break the $100 million barrier for a worldwide gross) as a lead actor, and though met with mixed reviews, it is generally regarded as one of Van Damme’s better films by critics.
The ilm gave birth to a short-lived franchise. The film was followed by a TV series of the same name, running for nine episodes in 1997 on ABC. It starred T.W. King as Jack Logan and Cristi Conaway as Claire Hemmings.
4. The Terminator franchise (1983 – ?)
The Terminator series is a science-fiction franchise created by James Cameron and Gale Anne Hurd. It encompasses a series of films, a TV series, comics, novels, and additional media concerning battles between Skynet’s synthetic intelligent machine network, and John Connor’s Resistance forces and the rest of the human race. Skynet’s most well-known products in its genocidal goals are the various terminator models, such as the T-800 (Model 101), who was portrayed by Arnold Schwarzenegger from the first film, and similar units he also portrayed in the later films. As of February 2010, the franchise has generated $3 billion in revenue.
At this poi, t it’s still unclear whether the Terminator franchise will ever come to an end and be terminated itself. So far it seems almost as indestructible and relentless as the creation it is centered on.
3. Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home (1986)
One of the most popular editions of the Trek films so far, and one of my personal favorites, Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home is an American science fiction film released by Paramount Pictures. It is the fourth feature film based on Star Trek and is a sequel to Star Trek III: The Search for Spock (1984). It completes the story arc begun in Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan (1982) and continued in The Search for Spock. Intent on returning home to Earth to face trial for their actions in the previous film, the former crew of the USS Enterprise finds the planet in grave danger from an alien probe attempting to contact now-extinct humpback whales. The crew travel to Earth’s past to find whales who can answer the probe’s call.
The film applies a winning blend of humor and high adventure along with a relevant message relating to reality to make this film one of the franchise’s best-loved editions. The film earned several awards and four Academy Award nominations for its cinematography and audio.
2. Back To The Future (1985)
Off all the films of the eighties, few capture the zeitgeist of that wacky lighthearted decade more than this film. Back to the Future is an American science-fiction adventure comedy film directed by Robert Zemeckis and written by Zemeckis and Bob Gale. It stars Michael J. Fox as teenager Marty McFly, who is sent back in time to 1955, where he meets his future parents in high school and accidentally becomes his mother’s romantic interest. Christopher Lloyd portrays the eccentric scientist Dr. Emmett “Doc” Brown, Marty’s friend who helps him repair the damage to history by helping Marty cause his parents to fall in love. Marty and Doc must also find a way to return Marty to 1985.
To say this film has a cult following would be an understatement, it has achieved iconic status not just with genre film fans but with anyone who has seen it and loves it. It has come to symbolize an era. It is so filled with iconic moments it would be impossible to list them all here in this limited domain. This is more than a movie, it is a phenomenon, suffice it to say it is a film that holds a special place in the hearts of millions and in global pop culture.
Back to the Future was released on July 3, 1985, grossing over $381 million worldwide, becoming the highest-grossing film of 1985. It won the Hugo Award for Best Dramatic Presentation, the Saturn Award for Best Science Fiction Film, and the Academy Award for Best Sound Effects Editing, as well as receiving three additional Academy Award nominations, five BAFTA nominations, and four Golden Globe nominations, including Best Motion Picture (Musical or Comedy). Ronald Reagan even quoted the film in his 1986 State of the Union Address. In 2007, the Library of Congress selected it for preservation in the National Film Registry, and in June 2008 the American Film Institute’s special AFI’s 10 Top 10 designated the film as the 10th-best film in the science fiction genre. The film marked the beginning of a franchise, with two sequels, Back to the Future Part II (1989) and Back to the Future Part III (1990), as well as an animated series, theme park ride, several video games and a forthcoming musical.
1. The Time Machine (1960)
I have reserved top honors on my list for the film that started it all based on the story by the same name. It is a film dear to my heart that I first saw in the theater when it was first released, and seen by me at a very early age. Needless to say, it made a lasting impression and likely played a much larger role in my development than I have ever acknowledged before. I do remember I thought it was amazing, and watching it again recently it still is. It has held up well over the years since it was made and remains an indisputable genre classic of the highest order.
The following is the opening paragraph I wrote about this film in an article in my early days writing for this website: “I never tire of watching this movie. It was directed and produced by George Pal, and stars Rod Taylor, Yvette Mimieux, and Alan Young, and is based on the 1895 novella of the same name by H. G. Wells. It’s a charming depiction of the adventures of one man’s journey into the future, and the monsters and promise for a better world he finds there. The film was awarded an Academy Award for the time-lapse photography used to depict the rapid passage of time and the changing world as seen from the protagonist’s point of view while using the machine. In one of the film’s most memorable scenes, the accelerated passage of time is portrayed by the fashions changed on a mannequin in a store window. The art direction is also admirable, the truly creepy, and unsavory appearance of the Morlocks stills holds up today, and the time machine itself is nothing less than an iconic work of art that far transcends its intended pragmatic creation as a prop”. For those interested, you can find the rest of the article here.
So there you have it, my picks for the best time travel films, or at least my favorites. it occurs to me it would make a good playlist for the weekend some time perhaps with friends patient enough to spend that much time with a Sci-Fi Nerd. Happy viewing.