Best Films That Turned Back the Clock
It seems that the only time we ever have any time under our control is with daylight savings time, where we either gain or lose an hour. Despite being a mere illusion of controlling real time, that power is exhilarating. And so we often wonder how cool it would be to experience the past or see what the future has in store for us. It sounds like it would be really complicated. Thankfully, we have plenty of movies that turn the clock back and forth to let us in on how time travel seems both fun and dangerous. Take a gander at our list of films where the past and the future seems so easy to snatch where time has little to no boundaries.
Back to the Future (1985)
There’s something rather timeless in our first pick for best movies about time travel. This classic comedy that shifts between the 1980s and 1950s. Teenager Marty McFly finds himself sent back to the 50s era of his little town where he must not only find a way back to his own time but ensure the teenage versions of his mother and father still hook up. If he fails, he won’t exist. Aside from being a stellar time-travel trilogy, the first film works best as not only a supremely iconic adventure but also an empathetic story where teens learn that their parents faced the same struggles of school, relationships, and bullies.
Groundhog Day (1990)
Bill Murray plays a reporter that finds himself repeating the same day over and over and over again. No matter where he goes or what he does, every day ends with him waking up the next to the same tune on the radio and the same people doing the same things. There’s a reason why this film’s format of being trapped in time has become a common reference for more modern films (Edge of Tomorrow, Happy Death Day). Most of it comes down to a stellar direction by Harold Ramis (Ghostbusters) and the uproarious performance by Bill Murray.
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (2004)
The Harry Potter stories often play around with many different forms of magic, from levitation to defense against the dark arts. So it was only natural that one of the films would involve time-turning at some point. The Prisoner of Azkaban, the third book and film in the series, features the third act surprise of tinkering with time to change events and reshape the magical world, as well as furthering Harry’s growth as a wise and powerful wizard in the making.
Star Trek VI: The Voyage Home (1986)
To save the universe, Captain Kirk and his crew of the Starship Enterprise must travel back in time to the 1980s and bring back a whale they can use to speak with an unknown lifeform that will destroy everything if it can’t speak with someone who knows whale-speak. That’s a strange premise but one suitable enough for the fun that is watching this starship crew of the future try to become accustomed to 1980s California, discovering everything from the use of currency to the quainter computers of the era. Easily one of the most charming and hilarious entries of the original Star Trek crew.
Meet the Robinsons (2007)
Lewis is a boy genius who may be smart enough to develop amazing inventions but he’s not quite ready for his family of the future when he travels forward in time to meet all of them. Not only are his future relatives a chaotic assortment of odd and quirky individuals but Lewis will also have to contend with dinosaurs, an evil man in a bowler hat who wants to steal his inventions, and even a frightening future where hats control the world. Certainly one of the zippiest and most frenetic of Disney’s computer-animated features.
The Girl Who Leapt Through Time (2006)
Many teenage girls probably wish they could turn back the clock just a bit to do something over and do it better. Maybe it’s a test and maybe it’s talking to a boy. The Girl Who Leapt Through Time is a Japanese animated film about a girl who has such powers, able to redo the day over and over until she gets it just right. However, as she starts experiencing more tragic events, she learns that time travel can have its drawbacks.
Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure (1989)
California teenage slackers Bill and Ted are more interested in their band of Wild Stallions than their history report they need to complete in our next pick for best movies about time travel. But then a time-traveler by the name of Rufus, traveling through time in a phone booth, gives this inept duo a chance to experience history more personally. Bill and Ted will traverse time and meet famous figures to deliver what will be both an enlightening report and an amazing rock performance.
Flight of the Navigator (1986)
David is a 12-year-old boy of 1978 but awakens to discover he has been sent into the 1980s where his parents are more wrinkly, his little brother is bigger, and the government doesn’t know how to explain such an event, that David would turn up after all these years not looking a day over twelve. Seeking answers, David discovers a mysterious alien spaceship with a quirky robot computer that may be able to help him get back to his own time. Featuring plenty of astounding special effects and great amazement for both the sci-fi ship and the 1980s, Flight of the Navigator has a gentle and hilarious approach to one kid’s wild adventure.
Time Bandits (1981)
Perhaps one of Terry Gilliam’s most coherent and family-friendly films, Time Bandits finds the boy Kevin being so infatuated with history that he ends up traveling through it with a collective of dwarf burglars. The dwarfs have found holes in time and plan to exploit them for treasure, with Kevin following right behind them. Filled with hilarious depictions of historic figures, the film boasts an astounding cast that includes the likes of John Cleese, Ian Holm, and Sean Connery.
Time After Time (1979)
Malcolm McDowell plays the iconic H.G. Wells in our next pick for best movies about time travel, having built a time machine to travel to a paradise of the future. Unfortunately, Jack the Ripper (David Warner), has other plans for the machine as he uses it to travel to the late 1970s to escape capture from the police. And so Wells follows and asks the help of a banker to stop Jack bringing terror to a new era. A lesser known but still brilliantly clever picture about saving the future.