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27 Time Travel Movies and Film Trailers

Updated on August 23, 2017
DeLorean Time Machine / Back to the Future
DeLorean Time Machine / Back to the Future | Source

Get Transported Back and Forth in Time at the Movie Theater

I don't know if I'd actually have the nerve to travel through time if it were possible, but I sure enjoy watching other people do it!

Time travel is one of my favorite genres, and the following are some of the best (or at least the most fun) films of the kind. Some go forward in time, while others go back, and some go back and forth. Some are fun and goofy and some are more serious. Some are big budget time travel movies and some very small. But all are entertaining, if you ask me.

Do you have a favorite time travel film?

If You Could Travel in Time....

Would you travel to the past or the future? Any particular time and place?

Time Travel Movies

Going forward in time from 1960

(based on the years the original films were released)

Have you seen all these time travel films and the remakes too?

The Time Machine (1960)

A Classic Time Travel Film

I've seen this one at least four times, maybe more, and as corny as it might be, it's still one of my all-time favorite time travel movies.

In The Time Machine, a scientist played by Rod Taylor travels from Victorian England at the turn of the twentieth century, back to the lava flows of ancient Earth and then far into the future, stopping in the year 802701 when a gentle, sweet-natured race known as the Eloi have been forced to hide from the brutal, suitably grotesque Morlocks ... who eat them. (Crunch!)

The story is based on a novel by H.G. Wells. The film was awarded an Oscar for its special effects, which were ahead of their time (so to speak).

My Favorite Time Travel Scene from "The Time Machine"

I've always enjoyed seeing the mannequin change clothes and Rod Taylor's reaction as it does.

Push the lever forward, and the mannequin's clothes get more modern (and sometimes skimpier). Pull the lever back, and the clothing and bathing suit styles move towards the Victorian. And the farther forward or back that lever goes, the faster the clothing changes.

Watch the Original Time Machine Trailer

The Time Machine -- Remade

An updated version of this timeless classic (2002)

I haven't seen this one yet. Have you? What did you think of the new version? Let me know in the comments section below.

From Amazon: "Wells's heroic time traveler--played with appealing conviction by Memento's Guy Pearce--is given a stronger motivation for piloting his time machine 800,000 years into the future. Long after New York City has crumbled and the moon shattered by a nuclear accident, Pearce finds a new home with the peacefully primitive Eloi, after confronting the subterranean Morlocks ... and their evil overlord (Jeremy Irons in wicked, pigmentless makeup).

"Trading Wells's social commentary for pure adventure, director Simon Wells (the author's great-grandson) maintains the story's legacy of wonder, despite a few hokey embellishments. Catering to a younger audience, this Time Machine is fun without being particularly distinguished--a treat for the eyes, if not the brain."

Watch The Time Machine Movie Trailer

The remade version....

The Planet of the Apes Series (1968-73)

The Original Movie Series -- 5 Films

When I think of this film series, the image of Charleton Heston falling to his knees on the beach at the end of the first film always comes to mind. I was a kid when I first saw this, and I remember (for some reason) being surprised by what he saw on that beach.

The first film in the Planet of the Apes series was based on the 1963 French novel La Planète des singes by Pierre Boulle.

Planet of the Apes - The Legacy Collection
Planet of the Apes - The Legacy Collection

Disk 1: Planet of the Apes ('68)

Disk 2: Escape from the Planet of the Apes

Disk 3: Conquest for the Planet of the Apes

Disk 4: Battle for the Planet of the Apes

Disk 5: Beneath the Planet of the Apes

Disk 6: Behind the Planet of the Apes (bonus disc)

 

Watch The Original Planet of the Apes Movie Trailer

Planet of the Apes - Remade

I haven't seen this new version ... yet! But I can't resist a time travel film, original or remake, so it's on my list. The much newer version stars Mark Wahlberg and Helena Bonham Carter and is directed by Carter's husband, Tim Burton.

In an Amazon review, Jeff Shannon says, "Billed as a 'reimagining' of the original 1968 film, Tim Burton's extraordinary Planet of the Apes constantly borders on greatness, adhering to the spirit of Pierre Boulle's original novel while exploring fresh and inventive ideas and paying honorable tribute to the '68 sci-fi classic.

"Burton's gifts for eccentric inspiration and visual ingenuity make this a movie that's as entertaining as it is provocative, beginning with Rick Baker's best-ever ape makeup ... and continuing through the surprisingly nuanced performances and breathtaking production design. Add to all this an intelligent screenplay that turns Boulle's speculative reversal--the dominance of apes over humans--into a provocative study of civil rights and civil war."

While he praised the film, Shannon apparently wasn't thrilled with the new ending of this remake, but I'll watch it and decide for myself.

Somewhere in Time (1980)

A time traveling romance

Okay, so this time travel film starring Christopher Reeve and Jane Seymore may be corny, but I couldn't (and can't) help but watch it every time it played (plays) on TV (which is few and far between these days).

Somewhere in Time (Collector's Edition)
Somewhere in Time (Collector's Edition)

From Jeff Shannon on Amazon: "Reeve stars as a contemporary playwright who visits a posh hotel and sees the portrait of an actress (Jane Seymour) who had performed there in 1912. He becomes obsessed with this beautiful woman and learns all he can about her, and then discovers a method of hypnotically transporting himself backward in time to meet her. 'Is it ... you?' she says upon seeing the lovestruck playwright, and it's clearly a mutual attraction. But even the slightest reminder of the playwright's modern time can jar him from his seemingly real existence in the past, so his wonderful love affair is constantly just a step from being stolen away."

Ooh! (And a little "ew" too ... but a good "ew.")

 

Watch the Somewhere in Time Movie Trailer

*Sigh* I miss Chris

Time Bandits (1981)

A goof-ball time travel film

Jon Cleese and Sean Connery star in this film about time traveling dwarfs running from God.

Kevin's daydreams burst into real life when a band of time-traveling little men come crashing through his bedroom wardrobe and carry him off on a crime spree, weaving through the greatest and strangest moments of history. The pint-sized plunderers filch from a neurotic Napoleon (Ian Holm), a dim-witted Robin Hood (John Cleese) and a heroic King Agamemnon (Sean Connery), leading to a showdown with the dark forces of Evil (David Warner), all while keeping just one precarious step ahead of the wrath of The Supreme Being.

Watch the Time Bandits Movie Trailer

The Terminator (1984)

A time travel thriller

In this film by writer-director, James Cameron, Ahhh-nold (Schwartzenneger) stars as the "futuristic cyborg who kills without fear, without love, without mercy."

In the year 2029, the ruling super-computer, Skynet, sends the cyborg -- that would be Arnold -- back in time to 1984 to kill Sarah Connor, played by Linda Hamilton, before she can fulfill her destiny and save mankind.

Watch The Terminator Movie Trailer

Back to the Future Film Series (1985, '89, '90)

Time travel adventure-comedy

I was a teenager when the first of the Back to the Future films came out. Six friends and I went to the theater to see it, and I remember we all really liked the movie, not to mention Michael J. Fox, who was at the height of his TV career at the time. We all hoped there would be a sequel and, sure enough, there were two.

Back to the Future: 25th Anniversary Trilogy
Back to the Future: 25th Anniversary Trilogy

High school student Marty McFly, played by Michael J. Fox, is launched from the '80s back to the 1950s, where he sees his parents in their teens and accidentally changes the history of how Mom and Dad met. Christopher Lloyd is the whacky scientist who builds the time machine from a DeLorean luxury car.

In Back to the Future, Part II, layers of time-travel complication are added, and, in Back to the Future, Part III, Marty ends up in the Old West of 1885, trying to prevent the death of his mad scientist friend at the hands of gunman Buford "Mad Dog" Tannen.

Add all three time traveling Back to the Future films to your collection.

 

Watch the Original Back to the Future Movie Trailer

Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home (1986)

The crew of the original Starship Enterprise travel from our future (their present) back to our present (their past).

I was a big Trekkie when I was growing up, not even realizing that those were already re-runs.

Considered one of the best Star Trek films, the fourth movie in the series has the crew of the USS Enterprise returning to Earth to find the planet in grave danger from an alien probe attempting to contact by-then extinct humpback whales. The crew then travel into the past to find whales who can answer the probe's call.

Star Trek IV stars the original cast members, including William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy, and DeForest Kelley, along with Catherine Hicks as Dr. Gillian Taylor, a biologist on 20th century Earth. The film is directed by Leonard Nemoy (Spock, our favorite Vulcan), who also co-wrote the story.

Watch the Star Trek IV Movie Trailer

Gotta love the stylish sweatband covering those pointy ears.

Peggy Sue Got Married (1986)

A time travel comedy film

In this Francis Ford Coppola comedy, Kathleen Turner stars as an unhappy, middle-aged woman who travels back in time to her high school days and meets her future husband, played by Nicolas Cage, all over again.

Reviewer Carlos Amaral quotes a Yeats poem called When You Are Old and writes, "That comes from a scene where Peggy Sue is talking to a poet Michael Fitzsimmons (Kevin J. O'Connor) while she is visiting her high school years. [It's] one of my favorite movie scenes ever, and I feel that the movie itself is a timeless piece of cinema. Look out for performances from Jim Carrey, Nicholas Cage, Helen Hunt, and a young Sofia Copola as Peggy's bratty kid sister. Great musical score. And this is the one flick guaranteed to make me tear up every time."

Watch the Peggy Sue Got Married Movie Trailer

Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure (1989)

A time travel comedy buddy movie

Two metalhead slackers travel through time as much as 7000 years, starting from 2068, in a time machine shaped like a phone booth. Their goal: to assemble a group of historical figures, including the likes of Napoleon and Billy the Kid, for their high school history presentation.

This cult favorite film stars Keanu Reeves, Alex Winter, George Carlin, Terry Camilleri, and Dan Shor.

Watch the Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure Movie Trailer

Bill and Ted's Bogus Journey (1991)

The next installment of the time-traveling duo's adventure

This time, Bill and Ted robots are sent back in time to prevent the real Bill and Ted from winning a pivotal Battle of the Bands. Heavy stuff (not!) ... and pretty hilarious (if you're in the right kinda mood).

Bill & Ted's Most Excellent Collection
Bill & Ted's Most Excellent Collection

This set includes both movies and a bonus disc with an Air Guitar Tutorial, "The Most Triumphant Making-Of Documentary," "Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventures" cartoon episode, "Hysterical Personages: A History Lesson" and more.

 

Timecop (1994)

Time travel action

Okay, so I'm not a big Jean-Claude Van Damme fan. But if you don't think too much, you might actually enjoy this time-travel action film in which an officer with the Time Enforcement Police (Van Damme) is assigned to prevent criminals from traveling to the past with the intent of altering the future. Why, those no-good....

Oh, and Ron Silver plays the evil politician who plots to retrieve a stockpile of gold from the Civil War to finance his latest campaign.

Watch the Time Cop Movie trailer

12 Monkeys (1995)

A time travel thriller

In this film with big-name stars Bruce Willis and Brad Pitt (who's not looking his hottest per the cuckoo part he's playing), Willis's character, Cole, is sent back in time to save the human race from a deadly virus that has forced mankind into underground communities in the future -- Cole's present. If he succeeds, so he's told, his prison sentence (which is anything but comfortable) will be reduced. But will it? Hmm....

12 Monkeys [HD DVD]
12 Monkeys [HD DVD]

During his time travels, Cole encounters a psychiatrist, played by Madeleine Stowe, and mental patient Brad Pitt, who may hold the key to the mysterious rogue group, The Army of the 12 Monkeys, thought to be responsible for unleashing a killer plague. Believing he can obtain a pure virus sample in order to find a cure back in the future, Cole is met with one riddle after another that puts him in a race for time.

 

Watch the 12 Monkeys Movie Trailer

How does Brad do that with his eye, anyway?

Kate and Leopold (2001)

A 19th Century Duke Ends Up in 21st Century New York

I don't know what made this one pop into my head, but I did enjoy the film (not to mention looking at Hugh Jackman). It's a light-hearted romance and the kind of quirky, cute Meg Ryan character I've always enjoyed.

Kate & Leopold
Kate & Leopold

Bachelor Duke Leopold of Albany (Hugh Jackman) is accidentally swept from 1876 to present-day 2001 through a "rip in time." Adjusting to the shock of his new surroundings and strange customs, he falls in love with Manhattan executive Kate (Meg Ryan), whose ex-boyfriend (Liev Schreiber) is Leopold's great-great-grandson. But Leopold can't stay in the future, and this romantic comedy proves -- yet again -- that time is no barrier when true love is involved.

 

Watch the Kate & Leopold Movie Trailer

Wow, what pretty people....

Time After Time (2002)

Time travel comedy-romance with some serial killing in the mix

Amazon reviewer, K. Harris writes, " 'Time After Time' succeeds in several different genres concurrently. This is a credible sci-fi pic, a sweet romance, a fish out of water comedy, as well as a decent serial killer thriller."

The time is 1893, and writer H. G. Wells, played by Malcolm MacDowell, has unknowingly become friends with Jack The Ripper. Wells has constructed a time machine, which Jack uses to escape the authorities and travel to modern-day San Francisco, where he continues his murderous spree. Wells then follows Jack the Ripper into the future to stop him and meets Mary Steenburgen, who helps Wells adjust to the strange new world and gets involved in the whole crazy affair.

Watch the Time After Time Movie Trailer

Timeline (2004)

Based on the Time Travel Novel by Michael Crichton

I loved the book, so I enjoyed the movie ... even though the latter was a little on the hokey side at times, especially during the actual time-traveling scenes when the travelers are being sent (painfully) back to the 14th century. Despite some less-than-stellar acting on the part of a couple of the main characters, I still had fun with this film (and enjoyed watching Gerard Butler too).

Timeline (Full Screen Edition)
Timeline (Full Screen Edition)

A group of archaeological students become trapped in the past--1357 to be exact, on the day the Hundred Years War between the English and French began--when they go there to retrieve their professor. The group must survive long enough to be rescued, which is longer than expected when things go wrong with the time travel machinery.

 

Watch the Timeline Movie Trailer

Primer (2004)

An independent time travel film

One difference between this film and other time-travel movies is that these characters are traveling back a few HOURS in time, not hundreds of years or more.

An inventor and a fellow brainiac initially use "rewind sessions" to go back in time to succeed in the stock market. But a dark consequence of their daily journeys eventually complicates matters.

This time-travel drama won the Grand Jury Prize at the 2004 Sundance Film Festival. Sometimes indy movies are the best.

Watch the Primer Movie Trailer

The Butterfly Effect (2004)

A psychological time travel thriller

This is a serious one.

The Butterfly Effect (Infinifilm Edition)
The Butterfly Effect (Infinifilm Edition)

Ashton Kutcher plays a college psychology student who discovers, when re-reading his childhood journals, that he can travel to the past and occupy his childhood body, then alter traumatic events, hoping to improve their otherwise unfortunate outcomes. Instead, this experiment in chaos theory--the so-called "butterfly effect" popularized by Jeff Goldblum in Jurassic Park--results in a variety of nightmarish permutations, each change he makes having unexpected consequences for him and/or his friends.

Starring Ashton Kutcher, Amy Smart, Melora Walters, and Elden Henson

 

Watch the Butterfly Effect Movie Trailer

From Time to Time (2009)

A ghost story spanning two worlds, two centuries apart

This British film is based on a well-known children's book series by Lucy M. Boston.

From Time To Time
From Time To Time

When 13-year-old Tolly discovers that he can mysteriously travel between the present, which is the end of World War II with his father missing in action, and 200 years past, he begins an adventure that unlocks family secrets that have been buried for generations.

With Alex Etel, Timothy Spall and Maggie Smith

 

Watch the From Time to Time Movie Trailer

Hot Tub Time Machine (2010)

A crude time travel comedy (crude comedy, that is) with just enough intelligence and "emotional sweetness"

So says Bret Fetzer on Amazon about this movie I'd never head of ... till now.

So, these three middle-aged guys and the unwelcome younger nephew of one of them share a crazy night of drinking in a ski resort hot tub, only to wake up with serious hangovers back in 1986, where each of them decides to risk changing the future (and possibly erasing the nephew from existence) by doing things just a wee bit differently.

Starring John Cusack, Rob Corddry, Craig Robinson, Clark Duke, and Chevy Chase

Watch the Hot Tub Time Machine Movie Trailer

Men in Black III (2012)

A fun, goofy time travel story

If you liked the original Men in Black movie -- many say the second installment of the MIB franchise wasn't up to par -- then I'm pretty sure you'll really like MIB3, which adds time travel twists to the mix.

"Fun" is definitely the word that comes to mind when I think about this film. And the time travel sequences are some of the coolest and most creative I've seen (a la jumping off the Empire State Building in order to travel ... hopefully before reaching the ground).

And Emma Thompson gets my vote for the funniest scene in the movie.

Men in Black 3 [Blu-ray]
Men in Black 3 [Blu-ray]

Ten years after the previous installment of the MIB series, the duo of Smith's smooth-talking Agent J and Jones' older, wiser, and grumpier Agent K is pitted against an evil, murderous alien new to the MIB franchise. This Boglodite's name is Boris the Animal, and he's been incarcerated, thanks to Agent K, in a lunar prison for four decades. But, alas, Boris is sprung from the slammer by former Pussycat Doll, Nicole Scherzinger, and is then able to carry out his plan: to travel back in time and change history by killing the 29-year-old Agent K, played masterfully by James Brolin, before K can shoot off his arm and imprison him. So, that means Agent J (Smith) must chase Boris back to 1969 and attempt to stop him from assassinating his (future) partner and leading a Boglodite invasion of Earth, thereby setting things right again.

Got all that?

 

Watch the Men in Black III Movie Trailer

Looper (2012)

This futuristic action film stars Bruce Willis, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, and Emily Blunt. Time travel will be invented -- but it will be illegal and only available on the black market.

Read a review of Looper, "a smart but confusing thriller."

Looper [Blu-ray]
Looper [Blu-ray]

When the mafia wants to get rid of someone, they'll just send their target into the past 30 years, where a "looper" -- a hired gun -- will be waiting to "mop up." One such looper, named Joe, is getting rich and life is good--until the day the mob decides to "close the loop," sending back Joe's future self (Bruce Willis) for assassination.

You can sign up to be notified when this time travel film becomes available on DVD.

 

Watch the Looper Movie Trailer

© 2011 Deb Kingsbury

Do You Have a Favorite Time Travel Movie? Is it one of these, or is there a time travel film I've left off the list?

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    • profile image

      ariesunique 3 years ago

      Great lens. I'm a huge fan of time travel movies. Just dedicated my first lens to my three favorite time travel movies - Back to the Future, The Butterfly Effect, and Frequency. The first two are on your list, but if you haven't seen Frequency, definitely check it out.

    • ismeedee profile image

      ismeedee 4 years ago

      Have decided to make my way through this list- have only ever seen Back to the future so got a lot of catching up to do here!!!

    • profile image

      MissMalaprop 4 years ago

      I recently saw Star Trek: A Voyage Home for the first time and LOVED it. Perhaps because of how corny it was, but I did love it!

    • Ramkitten2000 profile image
      Author

      Deb Kingsbury 4 years ago from Flagstaff, Arizona

      Note to self: Add "The Time Traveler's Wife" (2009), starring Eric Bana and Rachel McAdams. It's about a a Chicago librarian with a gene that causes him to involuntarily time travel, and the complications it creates for his marriage. Wonder if this one is on Netflix Play Instantly.

    • seeker2011 lm profile image

      seeker2011 lm 6 years ago

      The original The TIme Machine I think is still tops although the remake is a wonderful movie. All the Back To The Future movies are fun. I have not seen 12 Monkeys yet, so that will be my next movie. The best of all time is the Dr Who series and movies.

    • sousababy profile image

      sousababy 6 years ago

      The Time Machine and of course, the Back to the Future series. Great lens, very comprehensive.

    • rewards4life info profile image

      rewards4life info 6 years ago

      Some very good titles. Certainly 12 Monkeys, Terminator and The Time Machine are among my favourites, oh and obviously Back to the Future. Very cool lens you have now added several new films to my "must watch" list.

    • TonyPayne profile image

      Tony Payne 6 years ago from Southampton, UK

      I haven't seen Kate and Leopold but I have seen all the others. Time Travel movies are some of my favorites. Excellent lens, and I left a blessing behind.

    • profile image

      GrowWear 6 years ago

      The Time Machine will probably always be my favorite.

    • profile image

      anonymous 6 years ago

      I am fascinated by the concept of Time-Travel. Therefore, I read every book and see every film I can see on the subject. I've seen most of these movies, but there are one or two I'll have to find and see. I've never seen The Time Machine (the version shown here, anyway) or Time After Time, and I've been trying to track down 12 Monkeys for a while now. In case you haven't seen it, I have a Top Ten Time Travel Novels lens that you might enjoy looking at.

    • GonnaFly profile image

      Jeanette 6 years ago from Australia

      Hey! I like this genre too. In fact I just saw The Time Machine a couple of nights ago and at the moment we're watching reruns of Quantum Leap on TV (not a movie I know).

    • pheonix76 profile image

      pheonix76 6 years ago from WNY

      I am ashamed to admit that I've not seen many. I grew up watching "Back to the Future" (which my older sister loved) so I guess that gets my vote! :)