What Are The 10 Best Time Travel Movies?

September 28th, 2012 3:51pm EDT

Looper Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Bruce Willis star in the latest science fiction film that centers on time travel, Looper.

The film takes place in the year 2042, where a hired assassin called a "looper" eliminates targets sent back from 30 years in the future; where time travel technology exists. Although it's been outlawed in 2072, the mob secretly uses the technology to cleanly dispose of anyone who may be a threat to them.

Gordon-Levitt plays one of the top loopers and makes a wealthy living from his job; but he's taken by surprise when his latest target ends up being himself (Willis), sent back from 2072.

The film opened on Sept. 28, 2012; and also stars Emily Blunt, Paul Dano and Piper Perabo.

The film is already getting great reviews, and it may ultimately make this list; but, for now, check out the trailer below and click through for our picks for the 10 best time travel films of all... er, time.


Time Bandits

A boy and a group of dwarves take a humorous trip through time in Terry Gilliam's epic dark comedy, jumping through different eras finding treasure to steal.


12 Monkeys

Also directed by Gilliam, 12 Monkeys features Bruce Willis as a convict sent back in time before the outbreak of a deadly virus that leaves the future devastated. Sent to gather information and prevent the virus, James Cole finds himself locked in a mental institution over his warnings to the public. In his quest to stop the virus, Cole begins to question his own sanity and whether a madman (Brad Pitt) holds the key to the mystery.

Planet of the Apes (1968)

The crew of a space ship sent from Earth lands on a distant planet to find that apes are the dominant species and humans are enslaved by them. Only thing is, the planet the astronauts land on is actually Earth in the distant future.


Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure

Two high-school stoners and rock & roll wannabes happen upon a phone booth that's actually a time machine and travel through the past kidnapping historical figures and bringing them to the present for a school project.


Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home, Star Trek: First Contact, Star Trek

Time travel has been a running theme in the Star Trek universe since the original series. In The Voyage Home, the enterprise crew returns to Earth to find an alien entity vaporizing the planet's oceans. They learn that humpback whales hold the key to communicating with the aliens and can stop them; however they're extinct in the 23rd century. The crew devises a plan to go back to the 1980s and bring a couple of whales to the their current time in a bid to save Earth.

In Star Trek: First Contact, Starfleet's most feared enemy, the Borg, begin taking over planets and assimilating their inhabitants into their own "collective" hive mentality. When the Borg reach earth, Starfleet responds by destroying their ship. While their larger, cube shaped ship is on the brink of being destroyed, the Borg launch another ship out of it which warps space and time and goes back to before man had invented light speed. The crew of the Enterprise (the cast of Star Trek: The Next Generation) follows them through and eliminates their ship, only to find that most of them secretly transported themselves aboard the Enterprise and are quickly taking it over. The crew not only has to save their ship from the alien invasion, but they also have to ensure that the first warp space flight happens on schedule so that a passing ship realizes that Earth has something to offer the universe.

J.J. Abrams' reboot of the Star Trek franchise features a bad guy named Nero hunting Spock and going back in time to before Captain James T. Kirk was born and attacking the ship his father commanded. As Nero chases the Spock from the future, we learn how Kirk and Spock's relationship began, along with the origins of the crew of the Enterprise. But Nero's actions altered the entire timeline of Star Trek.




Terminator, Terminator 2: Judgment Day, Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines, Terminator Salvation
A machine is sent back in time to kill Sarah Connor before she has children because the child she will give birth to will be the leader of a futuristic revolution after a nuclear war destroys most of the life on Earth and a race of machines begins taking over. Eliminating Connor would ensure nothing would stand in their way. Obviously with two sequels the machines' quest failed. Three times. Terminator Salvation focuses on the futuristic John Connor's fight to take down SkyNet, which controls the machines.


A New York City policeman whose father died when he was a boy pulls out his dad's old HAM radio and starts playing with it, and atmospheric activity due to sunspots allow him to talk with his father 30 years in the past. While trying to help his father avoid death, he alters the future and his mother is murdered by a serial killer. Father and son then must try to set things right from both ends of the timeline. (This is a great movie if you haven't seen it - ed.)



Jean-Claude Van Damme plays a cop who travels through time bringing people back who settled themselves in different eras for financial gain. He learns of a corrupt senator who plans on cornering the stock market to get rich and sets out to foil his plan and bring him to justice.


A Christmas Carol, Scrooge, The Muppet Christmas Carol, Disney's A Christmas Carol

Charles Dickens' classic tale of Ebenezer Scrooge features travels through the stingy mogul's past, present and future guided by three spirits whose goal is to basically show him what a jerk he is. He's given glimpses of his happy past and the events that turned him into a cruel, penny-pinching miser; shown how happy and loving a family with nothing is despite his effect on them; and brought to his near future where people lack any sympathy for him after hearing of his death.


Back to the Future, Back to the Future II, Back to the Future III

Another series we're counting as one... Marty McFly and Doc Brown's first adventure through time showed that messing with the past could change the future. When Doc heads to the future at the end, he quickly returns and warns present day Marty about his future self; leaving room for not only one, but two sequels that were filmed back-to-back.



The Time Machine (1960)

H.G. Wells classic takes our protagonist, aptly named H. George Wells, back and forth through time, until he ends up hundreds of thousands of years in the future where people called Eloi live in a utopian society and are hunted by an underground race of monsters called Morlocks. The time machine gets locked up in the future and Wells must find a way to get it back. Don't fall for the 2002 remake starring Guy Pearce, the 1960 original is where it's at.


Honorable Mention:

Groundhog Day

Not really a movie about time travel, but every day Bill Murray wakes up it's the same day -- February 2nd -- and he has to relive it all over again. It could be argued that he goes back to the same point in time every time he wakes up, which is why we're only giving this one honorable mention.


Related: 12 Monkeys, A Christmas Carol, Back to the Future, Back to the Future II, Back to the Future III, Frequency, Groundhog Day, Looper, Planet of the Apes (1968), Scrooge, Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home, Star Trek XI, Star Trek: First Contact, Terminator, Terminator 2, Terminator 3, Terminator Salvation: The Future Begins, The Muppet Christmas Carol, The Time Machine, Time Bandits, Timecop, Starpulse Exclusives, Slideshows, Celebrity, Video, Evergreen

© 2012

Photo Credits: © Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios Inc. All Rights Reserved; © Sony Pictures Digital Inc. All Rights Reserved; © Warner Bros.; Universal Studios; VCI Entertainment (via

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