Friday, October 2, 2009

Top 5 Time Travel Movies

There are many options to choose from and to make such a vast selection into a top 5 is somewhat limited. Then again, creating a top 10 list for a very specific, limited genre would be not be limited enough. How many films feature time travel vs. the number of books that exist? Not as many as there should, which is why a top 5 list was created.

12 Monkeys
Insanity, without giving anything away, is a great realism into time travel. It's safe to say no one knows of anyone who has traveled through time, so if you were lucky enough to meet someone who did, you would probably believe him or her to be insane. And should you travel through time, you, I hope, would have the common sense to doubt reality and your own mental stability. 12 Monkeys was adapted from an artistic, well executed short film featuring only still photos and voice over. It presents an isolated world, reliving the same moment (memory or the future?) again and again. 12 Monkeys is one of the few films that took a simple idea, expanded it, and kept it thrilling while adding countless engaging plot twists and themes.

Groundhog Day
There are not nearly enough comedic science fiction films, not to mention ones dealing with time travel. Groundhog day is a brilliant mix of comedy, slapstick (without stretching too far from reality), and drama. When a man relives the same day over and over, there are bound to be comedic and dramatic aspects to his life; Groundhog Day catches them. Capitalizing on Bill Murray's cynical humor and distaste for ignorance and most human interaction, it is somewhat of a modern Scrooge tale, thrown into the far end of the universe. Sometimes, the best stories and characters are unleashed only when you introduce them into extreme environments of comedy and drama alike. Harold Ramis went on to complete his quirky sci-fi triology with Multi-plicity and Bedazzled, but they fell somewhat short of memorable films, despite how ever amazing Michael Keaton is.

Planet of the Apes (1968)
This film encompasses so many science fiction themes and all of which are done magnificently. Time travel beginning, exploration of a foreign environment and culture clash/theory middle, and a social commentary ending. Not to mention that the novel was weak and bland and Rod Serling turned it into an epic. It's a damn shame this original was torn apart by the sequels. Do not, I repeat, do not satisfy your curiosity and watch any - it will leave a bad taste in your mouth far worse than not having seen them. Not only are the films full of cliches and poor writing, but the "science fiction" in them is weak and only contradicts all aspects of the original. It's a sad, sad saga.

Terminator 1 & 2
I am grouping these two films together. While they are completely different films altogether and I find the second to be a superior, is it less engaged in the element of time travel than the first. Both are excellent films and unleashed a new fear for what the future has in store for us. Unlike many time travel films, The Terminator is a horrific realization that we are the problem to someone else's reality (vs. us traveling to someone else's time with something to fix). There are far few films and stories involving the "innocent" being visited for someone else's gain; we are merely stuck time after time following the time traveler and treating their world as the present.

The Time Machine (1960)
It's hard to ignore this original, classic gem. Traveling through time, horrified with the future until finding a peaceful land of mindless sheep (actually people). You can't sum up the human experience much more than that. (Oh, and there's conflict too).

Honorable Mentions
Back to the Future & Back to the Future II
Star Trek 4
Time Crimes

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