11 Best Time Travel Movies to Make You Question Reality
Time travel is a touchy subject in the scientific community. Many believe it’s only theoretically possible, while others think time travel is far too complex to be understood by human minds.
But what we can’t deny is that time travel is quite intriguing and entertaining. It’s often portrayed in movies to great effect, and we’re here with the list of 11 mind-bending movies about time travel.
The list is in no particular order, as all time travel movies offer something unique, be it action, romance, horror, or even comedy.
However, with time travel being a complicated subject, the movies depicting it can also get a bit challenging. So, do pay attention.
List of 11 Best Time Travel Movies to Make You Question Reality
1. The Terminator
Release Year: 1984
Cast: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Linda Hamilton, Michael Biehn
James Cameron’s The Terminator is an amazing sci-fi movie disguised as an action movie. In The Terminator, which takes place in 1984, the future is controlled by a hostile artificial intelligence, Skynet, who wants to wipe out humanity.
To achieve their purpose, Skynet sends cyborg assassins back in time to kill human resistance leaders before they are born. And so, a waitress, Sarah Connor, whose son will lead the resistance in the future, unwittingly becomes the target of one such cyborg.
The Terminator was a sleeper hit at the box office and paved the way for both James Cameron and Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Hollywood stardom. The film is also known for its accuracy towards time travel.
Release Year: 2012
Cast: Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Bruce Willis, Emily Blunt, Paul Dano, Jeff Daniels
Director Rian Johnson’s Looper also follows a similar premise as The Terminator. In Looper, time travel is only used by the mob, who send their victims back in time to be eliminated by contract killers. But things get complicated when Joe, an assassin, is tasked with killing his future self.
Looper was a critical and commercial success, with praise directed towards its complexity and action sequences.
Release Year: 2014
Cast: Ethan Hawke, Sarah Snook, Noah Taylor
Predestination is another mind-boggler of a movie. Directed by Michael Spierig & Peter Spierig, Predestination is based on the famous 1959 short story All You Zombies by Robert A. Heinlein.
Predestination follows a temporal agent whose last assignment is to prevent an elusive serial bomber from carrying out a deadly attack. But things are easier said than done.
Predestination begins as a generic time travel story but will leave you gasping by the end with its shocking twists and turns.
4. Back to the Future
Release Year: 1985
Cast: Michael J. Fox, Christopher Lloyd, Lea Thompson, Crispin Glover
Back to the Future is arguably the most iconic time travel movie ever made. Although scientists discredit its simplistic time travel storyline, Back to the Future is undeniably fun and charming.
Unlike other time travel movies, it’s not overly complex or violent and promises a super fun family romp. Directed by veteran filmmaker Robert Zemeckis, Back to the Future centers on a teen named Marty McFly who accidentally travels back in time with the help of his eccentric scientist friend, Doc Brown.
Marty must make younger versions of his parents fall in love or he’ll cease to exist in the present while also figuring out a way to get back to his timeline. Back to the Future was a box office hit at the time of its release and has since spawned a successful franchise.
Release Year: 2004
Cast: Shane Carruth, David Sullivan
Primer is regarded as the most scientifically accurate time travel movie ever. Primer was made on a budget of a mere $7000 by Share Carruth, who also acted, wrote, shot, edited, and composed the film.
Primer revolves around two friends who accidentally invent a time machine. Their actions end up having dire consequences as they further explore the machine.
Primer wasn’t well-received when it first came out but has become a cult classic now. It’s said to be so intricate that viewers had to draw charts and diagrams to fully understand it. So keep a pen and paper ready when watching Primer.
Release Year: 2007
Cast: Karra Elejalde, Nacho Vigalondo, Candela Fernandez, Barbara Goenaga
Timecrimes is a Spanish sci-fi thriller. The film centers on Hector, an ordinary family man who unwittingly becomes part of a never-ending time loop.
Timecrimes was directed by acclaimed Spanish filmmaker Nacho Vigalondo in his film debut. Timecrimes, being a low-budget indie, wasn’t a big success but has gained a dedicated fan-following in recent years due to its intelligent plot.
7. 12 Monkeys
Release Year: 1995
Cast: Bruce Willis, Brad Pitt, Madeleine Stowe, Christopher Plummer
Hollywood visionary Terry Gilliam wowed audiences in 1995 with 12 Monkeys. The film was praised for its uncommon intelligence for that era and the complex story. In 12 Monkeys, humanity falls victim to a global pandemic, and the survivors are forced to live underground.
Some prisoners are selected as volunteers to go back in time to help the scientists find a cure for the virus. 12 Monkeys follows the journey of one such prisoner, James Cole (Bruce Willis), as he tries to save humanity.
8. About Time
Release Year: 2013
Cast: Rachel McAdams, Domhnall Gleeson, Margot Robbie, Bill Nighy
About Time is a British sci-fi romance movie, a rare genre combination. About Time centers on Tim, a young man with the ability to travel through time. This power runs in Tim’s family, and while he can’t change history, he tries to make a better life for himself by winning over his love interest.
Richard Curtis wrote and directed About Time, and the film received mostly positive reviews from critics. About Time may not be the most thoughtful movie on time travel, but it’s a highly entertaining watch regardless.
9. Edge of Tomorrow
Release Year: 2014
Cast: Tom Cruise, Emily Blunt, Bill Paxton
Edge of Tomorrow is a sci-fi action movie that is frequently counted among the best films of the two genres. Edge of Tomorrow is directed by Doug Liman and based on the Japanese novel All You Need is Kill.
Edge of Tomorrow takes place in the future when Earth is invaded by an alien race. A PR officer with limited combat experience, Major William Cage, is forced to join an attack against the aliens. Cage dies immediately but finds himself in a time loop.
The rest of the film follows Cage waking every day, fighting the aliens, dying, and repeating the same. Edge of Tomorrow is an exhilarating watch that should be on the watchlist of every sci-fi and action buff.
10. Baar Baar Dekho
Release Year: 2016
Cast: Sidharth Malhotra, Katrina Kaif, Sayani Gupta, Taaha Shah
Baar Baar Dekho is a Bollywood sci-fi romance movie. While it isn’t without flaws, Baar Baar Dekho is a radical attempt by Bollywood and deserves to be praised.
Co-written and directed by Nitya Mehra, Baar Baar Dekho follows a commitment-phobic mathematics professor, Jai, who accidentally travels forward in time and misses all the major happenings in his life.
Baar Baar Dekho is inspired by Adam Sandler’s Click but features enough originality to stand on its own. For now, Baar Baar Dekho remains the best Bollywood has to offer in the time travel genre.
Release Year: 2014
Cast: Matthew McConaughey, Anne Hathaway, Matt Damon, Jessica Chastain
A time travel movie list would be incomplete without Christopher Nolan. The filmmaker is best known for his intellectual films like Tenet, Inception, and Memento. But for now, we’ll focus on Interstellar.
Interstellar is one of the few movies with forward time travel. The film features several sci-fi anomalies like black holes and wormholes. There are several twists and turns in Interstellar, with a few being related to time travel as well.
Interstellar takes place in the near future, in which a global food shortage is threatening humanity’s survival. As a last resort, NASA recruits a former pilot to lead a dangerous mission to find a new home for mankind in a different galaxy.
With its stunning visuals and attention to detail, Interstellar is a must-watch for all sci-fi and time travel fans out there.
So, that’s the end of our list. Hopefully, you liked our choices for the 11 best time travel movies. Stay tuned for more insightful lists on cinema and education.
Before you go, check out all the best time travel movies in the brief below.
- The Terminator (1984)
- Looper (2012)
- Predestination (2014)
- Back to the Future (1985)
- Primer (2004)
- Timecrimes (2007)
- 12 Monkeys (1995)
- About Time (2013)
- Edge of Tomorrow (2014)
- Baar Baar Dekho (2016)
- Interstellar (2014)
Read More: 10 Must-Watch Bollywood Historical Movies to Relive the Past
Read More: Top 15 Sci-Fi Movies To Blow Your Mind