Top 10 Time Travel Films by @MattMitrovich


Top Ten 
Time Travel 
Films of All Time 

by Matt Mitrovich

When it comes to writing fiction, my greatest influence has always been films. I don’t know exactly why it is, but the visual medium seems to excite my creativity in ways even the best books can’t match (and I have read a lot of books). With the release of my new time travel story “Road Trip” (published in the anthology Forbidden Future) I decided to share some of the films that inspired me to write it.
So without further ado, here is my personal list (in no particular order) of the best time travel films of all time. 

(Disclaimer: Yeah there are going to be spoilers, but many of these films are years if not decades old. If you haven’t seen them yet, don’t cry to me about ruining the plot.)

1) Back to the Future: The classic 1980s film series is probably the first introduction to time travel for most people of my generation. The story is still amazing, the special effects hold up and everyone still thinks the DeLorean is a cool car. If you get a chance, go watch this again in a theater. You will enjoy the ride.
2) Terminator: Although people remember this film mostly as the supreme representation of the robot holocaust in American cinema, we often forget that this is at heart a time travel tale. Ignoring the killer robots (an implausible concept to begin with) the characters in this film and its sequels struggle to prevent doomsday and ultimately fail. No matter what they do, the future they fear will come about, with John Connor being the only silver lining.
3) Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure: Not all time travel has to be serious. Sometimes the only risk is not passing your history final. This absurdly funny tale of two clueless, yet well-meaning, friends who gather people of historical importance to come speak at their school showcases a rare attempt to show what people from the past might think of the contemporary era. Now if only they picked up Theodore Roosevelt…
4) Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me: Okay some of the humor in this one can be a little dated, but what I like about this is the natural way the hero dealt with his doppelganger. There were no universe ending paradoxes, just someone feeling completely at ease with himself and himself.
5) Army of Darkness: At the end of Evil Dead 2 (or was it just the actual first remake of Evil Dead…hmm) our hero Ash finds himself in the Medieval era being terrorized by deadites. Not only does this film cement Ash as the premier zombie killer of all time, it shows that even (comedy) horror films can use time travel proving just how versatile the trope is.
6) Harry Potter and the Prison of Azkaban: Speaking of being versatile, even fantasy stories can use the time travel trope. Harry goes back in time to prevent two innocents from dying and plays out the common time travel law that states that everything that should have happened will happen. Of course, if they really need to go back in time again they can always find a mad man with a blue box…
7) Donnie Darko: Time travel doesn’t always have to make sense to make the story good. Donnie Darko proves that. It is one of those films you need to watch twice. Once just to get the gist of the plot and again just to catch everything you missed. It is too bad this film did so poorly at the box office, but I highly recommend this thinking man’s time travel film.
8) Star Trek: The JJ Abrams reboot was an amazing use of time travel as a means of creating alternate timelines. Ingeniously he got around decades of canon so that new fans could enjoy the film, while at the same time keeping it within the rules of the constructed universe. Sadly, I don’t think he will be to do the same thing twice for Star Wars
9) Flight of the Navigator: For a kid’s film, Flight has some pretty heady hard SF content, like time dilation due to traveling faster than the speed of light. With so much mainstream SF just hand-waving away real science, it is great to see someone tackle it in a kid’s movie. If we want kids to do better at science, get them interested in film like this.
10) Hot Tub Time Machine: Last, but not least, Hot Tub is a tale of some down on their luck friends sent back in time to the 1980s to relive a slice of their glory years. When one of the friends (played Rob Corddry) decides to stay behind, he uses his knowledge of the future for his own personal benefit. This is a very human thing to do and I like how the film addressed it. It’s easy to preach about respecting the time steam and such, but we are more likely to say “screw it” and buy some Apple stock when its cheap.
These, of course, are just a few of the many time travel films out there. If there is something you think I missed, let me know in the comments.

Matt Mitrovich

Matt Mitrovich is the founder and editor of Alternate History Weekly Update and a blogger on Amazing Stories. His new short story "Road Trip" can be found in Forbidden Future: A Time Travel Anthology. When not writing he works as an attorney, enjoys life with his beautiful wife Alana and prepares for the inevitable zombie apocalypse. You can follow him on Facebook or Twitter.