Do the hair-raising plots of time travel movies fascinate you? Did the incidents of the future, and travel back to the past ever captivate you? Yes, millions like you love watching time travel movies on-screen but scratch their head while understanding the complex storylines and astonishing plot twists of sci fi movies.
Nowadays, countless science fiction movies move their characters back and forth in time. But which are the 5 greatest time travel movies that changed the course of film-making by inspiring generations of audiences and future filmmakers?
You have come to the right place to find out. Let’s dive to figure out what is a time travel movie? And, what are the 5 best time travel movies every science fiction lover should watch?
What is a Time Travel Sci Fi Movie?
The primary focus of time travel movies revolves around moving back in the past or moving ahead in the future. Often there is an involvement of characters to move to the future to change the course of imminent devastating events. Sometimes, to change the course of history, they send the characters to the past. All these activities are possible with the time-machine device which takes the characters either to the past or to the future.
The idea of time travel is popular in literature, philosophy, and movies. The concept was first put forward by H. G. Wells in his novel ‘The Time Machine’ in 1895. Time-slip, time anomalies, time-loop, communication from the future, alternative future, changing history are some of the plots which are predominantly used in science fiction/sci fi movies.
Top 5 Time Travel Sci Fi Movies of All Time
1. A Connecticut Yankee In King Arthur’s Court (1949)
This movie is one of the earliest known time-travel movies. The screenplay of the movie was adapted from the science fiction novel of the same name, written by American author Mark Twain. Twain wrote this fictional story in 1889.
The main character of the movie is Hank Martin, who is a mechanic by profession. In an accidental incident, Hank is hit on the head and is knocked out. He finds himself transported to the past in the Arthurian court in Britain. Hank is currently in the period of 528 AD. The guards of the Arthurian court are astonished to see him and take him to King Arthur’s Round Table. Although he is about to be executed, he charms the court with the power technology. Somehow, he escapes death.
Later in the movie, he forms a friendship with a knight of the court. Moreover, his feelings grow for the king’s adorable niece Alisande. With the help of his advanced technological power, he somehow impresses Alisande.
Hank’s flirtations with Alisande angers her fiancé Lancelot. His technological powers brought the envy of wizard Merlin and enchantress Morgan Le Fay. Moreover, Hank’s interference in the politics of Arthur’s court startles a few more people. Different people corner him for diverse reasons. At the same time, Merlin and Morgan try to overthrow King Arthur with their spells. Hank tries to revert their actions but he wakes up from his dream and returns to reality.
The movie was a huge success at the time of its release and earned good reviews. Moreover, it left an enormous impression on future audiences and filmmakers. Tay Garnett directed the film. Bing Crosby, Rhonda Fleming and William Bendix acted in the film.
2. 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)
This movie brought much-needed momentum to the sci fi genre. It was released at the height of the cold war in the late 1960s. It lightly touches upon the rivalry of space travel missions which was competitive between the United States of America and erstwhile Soviet nations at that time. Stanley Kubrick and Arthur C. Clarke wrote the screenplay of the movie. Arthur C. Clarke’s short story ‘The Sentinel’ inspired the inception of the film’s primary idea.
The movie starts with a primitive setting in the past with the sudden appearance of a mysterious monolith. In this prehistoric time, two groups of apes fight each other for water. However, the mysterious power of the alien monolith helps one group to use animal bones as weapons that drive away from the intruding group of apes.
Later in the film, humans take a journey to other planets with advanced technology, to discover a mysterious alien artifact that disturbs human evolution. Dr. David Bowman prepares for a journey to Jupiter with other astronauts. They are taking the HAL 9000 supercomputer with them. As the movie goes on, the HAL supercomputer starts behaving strangely which creates a great tension between machine and human.
The film discusses a wide array of themes. For instance, unprecedented advancement of technology, human evolution, the possibility of extraterrestrial life, artificial intelligence, etc. Moreover, audiences across generations love it for its mind-boggling visual effects, scientifically accurate presentations of space-related things, sporadic dialogues, and musical long sequences.
The movie was a mammoth success at the time of its release. But its popularity grew manifold as time went by. This epic film created a phenomenon by its popularity in the USA, Europe and Russia. The film is one of the greatest films ever created. Moreover, the critics call it the most influential movie of all time, as it influences the generations of filmmakers and audiences. It received four Academy Award nominations, and Stanley Kubrick won in the category of best direction in visual effects.
3. Star Wars: Episode IV- A New Hope (1977)
The first Star Wars franchise movie was released in 1977. It reached a global audience and made time travel movies an instant hit. The Star Wars franchise made the sci fi genre very popular and consolidated a loyal fan base for time travel movies. Although the movie hit the theater as Star Wars in 1977, later, it was renamed as ‘Star Wars: Episode IV- A New Hope.’
The setting of Star Wars is a fictional universe. Along with human beings, various types of alien species inhabit this fictional universe. The Dictatorial Galactic Empire controls almost the entire galaxy. Rebel Alliance tries to free the known galaxy from the tyranny of the Empire. There are two droids R2-D2 and C-3PO. They have the Death Star which is the ultimate weapon of the empire. Luke Skywalker unknowingly takes possession of these two droids. Obi-Wan Kenobi is the Jedi master. He joins Luke and teaches him about ‘the Force’. They try to carry the droids and hand them over to the Rebellion. In the meantime, Han takes his companion Wookiee and joins Luke and Obi-Wan with the temptation of earning some money. In the end, they rescue Princess Leia. They destroy the huge spaceship the Empire was using as well.
The movie was an instant hit and the earnings crossed 100 million dollars in three months. The enormous success of the movie transformed the course of film production in Hollywood. Hollywood quickly switched its stance from producing reality-based psychological, dramatic conflicts to visual effects-laden movies.
George Lucas directed the film. The film released two sequels- ‘The Empire Strikes Back’ in 1980, and ‘Return of the Jedi’ in 1983.
4. Back To The Future (1985)
‘Back To The Future’ hit the theater in 1985 and became instantly popular among the audience. As time went by, the popularity of these sci fi movies grew. Many critics consider this movie to rank among the greatest time travel movies. Robert Zemeckis directed the movie. Zemeckis and Bob Gale wrote the screenplay.
The two main characters of the movie are Marty McFly and Doc Brown. The setting of the movie is 1985. Marty McFly is a teenager. At the beginning of the movie, Doc Brown conducts some eccentric scientific experiments. Thus, he sends Marty to the past with the time-traveling machine. Marty realizes it is 1955.
As the story moves along, Marty accidentally stops their parents’ meeting. He fears that if his parents can not meet then his existence will be in trouble. Therefore, he tries with all his means to make them meet and fall for each other. While everything is happening in the past, Marty realizes that he needs to move to the future and come to the present. He has to save the life of Doc Brown as well there.
As the movie received unparalleled success and amassed a huge box office collection, the creators decided to make sequels. Therefore. there were two sequels, ‘Back to the Future II’ (1989) and ‘Back to the Future III’ (1990). As their popularity grew, they decided to launch multimedia franchises which included video games, comic books, toys, animated television series, etc.
5. Avatar (2009)
Avatar is a groundbreaking epic science fiction movie. James Cameron directed the film whereas Sam Worthington, Zoe Saldana, Stephen Lang acted in the movie. Although the director had been working on this film throughout the 1990s and early 2000s, he could not start shooting because of the requirements of necessary technologies.
The film takes place in a futuristic world in the mid-22nd century. The setting is Pandora. It is a moon-shaped habitable place in another star system Alpha Centauri. Furthermore, a valuable mineral Unobtainium is available in abundance in Pandora. However, human beings want to colonize the place and take control of the minerals.
An indigenous species Na’vi lives in this place. Although they seem primitive, they prove they are highly advanced. But, human greed and mining for Unobtanium make the existence of Na’vi questionable. However, a giant gas surrounds this star system and is poisonous. Avatar is a hybrid form of Human and Na’vi. Hence, the link of this hybrid form with the human mind makes it possible to move around in Pandora. Jake Sully gets paralyzed but can move around without any difficulty because of this hybridity. He eventually loves a Na’vi woman and fights against humans to save the Na’vi habitat.
The movie had a very high budget because it used advanced filming technologies and revolutionary CGI effects. It spent a lot of money on promotion as well. Subsequently, it earned a huge profit for its unprecedented success. Moreover, it is the second highest-grossing movie of all time. In addition, the movie received nine Academy Award nominations and won three.
Conclusion: The Best Sci Fi Movies on Time Travel
These are the top 5 best sci fi movies on time travel all science fiction lovers should watch. Moreover, these movies popularized the science fiction genre and carved a niche of their own by creating a loyal fan base. Many movies are coming out every year but all science fiction lovers would definitely remember these. In short, the selected movies are truly timeless.