People wish they could travel back in time, and thankfully, there are a slew of excellent films that make that wish a reality.
If you’re seeking time travel movies, the best time travel movies will take you on an incredible adventure through time.
It was started on the difficult task of narrowing down the best time travel movies of all time, each with its distinct twist and with so many to pick from.
Below are the best time travel movies.
Table of Contents
- 1. Idiocracy
- 2. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
- 3. Star Trek
- 4. 12 Monkeys
- 5. Edge of Tomorrow
- 6. Primer
- 7. About Time
- 8. The Terminator
- 9. Donnie Darko
- 10. Planet of the Apes
- 11. Doctor Strange
- 12. Hot Tub Time Machine
- 13. Looper
- 14. Going on 30
- 15. The Time Traveler’s Wife
- 16. X-Men: Days of Future Past
- 17. Men in Black 3
- 18. Back to the Future Part II
Idiocracy is among the best time travel movies. This movie started as a joke and then turned into a reality.
Idiocracy director Mike Judge couldn’t have foreseen how accurate his film would be a decade later.
Still, he and co-writer Etan Cohen had their finger on the pulse of what was going on in America at the time enough to uncover unpleasant realities that are still pertinent today.
While the core idea of a man being “frozen” for hundreds of years has been done before, what makes Idiocracy stand out is the hilarious precision with which Judge executes his dumbed-down vision of America’s future.
2. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
It is not just the finest film in the franchise, but it’s also one of the best time-travel movies ever created.
The adaptation of J.K. Rowling’s renowned book series, directed by Alfonso Cuaron, changed the aesthetic and narrative approach.
While the core of the tale is all Rowling, Cuaron’s execution truly makes this thing soar. Azkaban is full of wonder, curiosity, and danger, and it’s an absolute pleasure to behold.
From incredible cinematography to aural themes that clue the viewer into the shifting time situations, Azkaban is full of wonder, curiosity, and danger, and it’s an absolute joy to behold.
3. Star Trek
The 2009 reboot of the Star Trek franchise by director J.J. Abrams avoided the difficulty of “erasing” the history of previous films/TV programs by employing one unique device: time travel.
Even though Abrams’ Trek concentrates on Young Kirk, he exists in a new and revised timeline; thus, the future isn’t totally decided.
Star Trek is a minor miracle in that it can explain this concisely while also serving as an incredibly entertaining adventure in and of itself.
While the sequel Star Trek Into Darkness harmed some of that goodwill, Abrams’ first film remains one of the most easily rewatchable blockbusters of the twenty-first century.
4. 12 Monkeys
While Terry Gilliam is no stranger to time travel (his 1995 film 12 Monkeys narrowly missed the cut on our list), it is one of the most memorable examples of the genre.
The sci-fi drama marries Gilliam’s strange tastes with gritty and realistic time travel to create a filthy and memorable experience.
Bruce Willis plays a future prisoner sent back in time to discover the origins of a deadly virus that ravaged the Earth, and Brad Pitt gives a fantastic performance as a possibly insane mental institution patient.
Gilliam, who is not one for the convention, keeps things delightfully strange throughout. This is one of the best time travel movies.
5. Edge of Tomorrow
Edge of Tomorrow is the right blend of Tom Cruise action, Emily Blunt fortitude, Christopher McQuarrie’s distinct tastes, and director Doug Liman’s audacity.
Many have tried and failed to replicate Groundhog Day’s “trapped in a loop” idea, but Edge of Tomorrow takes that nugget and runs with it, making every scene new even though the same day plays out over and over.
The secret sauce is having Tom Cruise portray an out-and-out coward, which contrasts with the popular impression of his on-screen demeanor and makes for a very refreshing viewing experience.
Most time-travel movies strive to make the physics of time travel simple, but Shane Carruth’s head-spinning 2004 film Primer does not.
This indie film follows two engineers who unintentionally uncover a time-travel mechanism while dabbling with entrepreneurial tech ideas.
Carruth doesn’t “dumb down” any of the movie’s physics, and charts have been created to explain the exact mechanics of what’s going on, but it’s still one of the best time-travel movies ever filmed.
7. About Time
It is without a doubt the most emotional film on the list. Richard Curtis had already warmed hearts with Love Actually and Pirate Radio, but his return to his Four Weddings and Funeral origins (which he didn’t direct but did write) in About Time.
On-Time takes use of the time-travel genre’s chance to wax philosophical about mortality and regret in a new way by focusing on a very sincere relationship between a father and a son.
This romantic comedy between Domhnall Gleeson and Rachel McAdams is the hook, but the film’s tearjerking core is the bond between time-traveling father and son Gleeson and Bill Nighy.
8. The Terminator
The Terminator, directed by James Cameron, is not just culturally significant in terms of time travel films or even film in general; it has had a huge influence on pop culture.
When hearing Arnold Schwarzenegger’s iconic statement, “I’ll be back,” even those who haven’t watched The Terminator get the meaning.
Schwarzenegger stars as the Terminator, a cyborg sent back in time from 2029 to assassinate the mother whose son is tasked with defending the planet from robots.
There’s little doubt that this will continue to be one of the best time travel movies as time goes on.
9. Donnie Darko
Richard Kelly’s thought-provoking cult masterpiece is undoubtedly one of the best profound time-travel movies ever created.
Despite how intimately entwined it is with the film’s storyline, it isn’t something you can figure out right away.
Jake Gyllenhaal plays Donnie Darko, and he meets a huge bunny-rabbit named Frank. Frank informs Donnie that the world would end in 28 days, during which an increasingly strange series of events unfolds.
The film’s central themes are inextricably linked to its use of time travel, making it an essential inclusion to this list.
10. Planet of the Apes
Planet of the Apes, directed by Franklin J. Schaffner, was one of the first films to deal with time travel, and it did it in a novel fashion, even for its time.
The story revolves around an astronaut team who crash landings on a barren planet 2000 years later.
Les humans are now the planet’s most primitive race, having lost their dominance to apes. As a result of the intriguing role reversal, a five-film series was created, which was later revived.
11. Doctor Strange
Without adding everyone’s favorite time-manipulating sorcerer from the Marvel Cinematic Universe, a list of the best time travel movies would be incomplete.
Dr. Stephen Strange, played by Benedict Cumberbatch, is an arrogant neurosurgeon who loses his hands in a horrific accident.
Strange travels to Kamar-Taj, desperate to find a method to heal them, and learns that his only hope is to train under the legendary sorcerer known as the Ancient One (Tilda Swinton).
Time travel isn’t exactly an element of Doctor Strange, but it’s important in the final conflict between good and evil.
12. Hot Tub Time Machine
It’s not quite cinematic gold, but it’s difficult to overlook when discussing the best time travel movies.
A time machine at a ski resort transports Adam, played by John Cusack, and his friends and nephew to 1986.
They must make it through the night without changing anything to ensure that the nephew is stillborn once they arrive.
While the film is little more than light, delightful entertainment, it embraces its silliness; after all, how serious could a film about a time machine be?
Rian Johnson crafts a distinct science-fiction universe in Looper, which serves as a backdrop for fascinating people.
The ability to travel through time has been developed, but it is only accessible on the black market, with the mafia sending those they wish to get rid of 30 years in the past.
A hitman named Joe (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) is waiting to clean up the scene when they arrive.
Looper is a highly enjoyable and thought-provoking film that manages to be quite surprising for its subject matter.
14. Going on 30
This is one of the best time travel movies ever made.
Jenna, 13, has one of her biggest dreams come true when she wakes up as a 30-year-old lady when some enchanted dust falls on her head in a closet at her birthday party (Jennifer Garner). Jenna has no option but to learn the ropes of adulthood soon.
The idea is original and amusing, but it also emphasizes the importance of cherishing youth and optimism.
15. The Time Traveler’s Wife
This seems like a good moment to point out that Rachel McAdams has been in four-time travel films (The Time Traveler’s Wife, Doctor Strange, About Time, and Midnight in Paris), yet she has never been the one conducting the time travel!
McAdams portrays the title character, and her husband (Eric Bana) is trapped in a state where he unconsciously travels across time, appearing at various points in his lover’s life.
While it may not be everyone’s cup of tea, the movie’s audacity in pursuing this subject should be commended.
16. X-Men: Days of Future Past
This picture, which is part of the renowned epic X-Men franchise, examines the intricate entanglement of history and the present, making it one of the best time travel movies ever made.
The X-mission Men reunite with their younger selves to rewrite history and preserve their future. The X-growth Men’s and evolution can be seen thanks to time travel.
This is one of the greatest films in the X-Men franchise, and it will be remembered fondly by X-Men fans.
17. Men in Black 3
Another successful installment in the renowned Men in Black franchise, the third film, gives viewers a taste of what occurs when a man attempts to remedy a wrong by traveling back in time.
Agent J teams up with agent K’s younger self in 1969 and starts on a one-of-a-kind mission to find forgiveness following K’s death.
Will Smith’s charisma will surely keep you entertained if this isn’t enough.
18. Back to the Future Part II
The much-anticipated sequel to the 1985 film of the same name, Back to the Future II, does not disappoint.
The film follows Marty McFly on another voyage back in time, but for a different cause. He intends to impersonate his kid to avoid doing time in prison.
The video illustrates the futility of time travel by showing how the future alters the present in a perplexing time play.