Doctor Strange (2016) is a Marvel time travel film that grossed $677 million at the box office.

Time Travel Movies: 100+ Films Outside of Time

Everyone sort of understands that what we call “time” exists, but no one really has a clue about what “time” is or whether it can be transcended. This is why time travel is a plot device in storytelling that creates a sense of wonder.

The cinematic simulation of leaving the present day to visit the future or the past is an integral and useful fantasy for humankind. Time travel stories help us understand who we are, where we came from and where we are going.

At least in terms of popular culture, the greatest time travel movie might be the Back to the Future franchise (1985 – 1990) and certainly the ghostly tour of Ebenezer Scrooge’s past in A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens has been imprinted upon cultural memory since the 1800s.

Je t’aime, je t’aime (1968) is a French film about a suicide survivor who is the first human subject of a mysterious time travel experiment.

Like ghost movies, time travel movies transcend any one genre. It’s a popular narrative setup for romance films (particularly funny ones) to science fiction, to thrillers, and even the Marvel superhero movies as well as art house movies.

Here we’ll survey the whole time span of time travel films throughout cinematic history. Get ready to move through history.

A Connecticut Yankee In King Arthur’s Court (1948)

This classic sci-fi comedy film was the first time travel-themed movie ever made.

This American comedy musical is based on the 1889 Mark Twain novel of the same name. Hank Martin (Bing Crosby, a massively successful entertainer during the mid-1900s who is most famous for his song rendition of “White Christmas”) plays a mechanic in the year 1912 who accidentally bumps his head, causing him to travel back to Britain in the year 528 AD, where he gains power and praise for his suspicious knowledge of futuristic technology. He falls in love with King Arthur’s niece—which doesn’t sit well with her betrothed, Sir Lancelot—and comedic hijinks ensue.

The Time Tunnel (1966)

Army scientists willingly take a plunge into the Time Tunnel.

Based on the 1964 film The Time Travelers, this was actually a sci-fi TV series that lasted only 30 episodes and never came to a proper conclusion. It centers around top-secret US government Project Tic-Toc, involving a gigantic underground complex in Arizona that extends 800 floors deep and employs 12,000 personnel. Project Tic-Toc is intended to master time travel and exploit its capabilities for military usage. But in the first episode, when a federal inspector visits and threatens to shut down the entire project unless they can quickly produce evidence of progress toward their goal, two scientists willingly throw themselves down the so-called “Time Tunnel.” Episodes 2-23 begin with this voiceover:

Two American scientists are lost in the swirling maze of past and future ages, during the first experiments on America’s greatest and most secret project, the Time Tunnel. Tony Newman and Doug Phillips now tumble helplessly toward a new fantastic adventure, somewhere along the infinite corridors of time.

As time travelers, Tony and Doug experience the bombing of Pearl Harbor, Custer’s Last Stand, the Battle of the Alamo, and the sinking of the Titanic, but the show was abruptly canceled before they were able to return to modern-day Arizona and prove that Project Tic-Toc was not a waste.

Planet of the Apes (1968)

Orangutan theocrats sit in judgment in Planet of the Apes.

This, the first of four original Planet of the Apes films and the inspiration for a 2001 reboot series by Tim Burton’s remake, stars Charlton Heston as part of an astronaut crew whose spaceship crash-lands on what appears to be a remote planet in the year 3978. On this planet, primates are in charge—gorillas serve as the military enforcers, orangutans manage governmental and theological matters, and chimpanzees are the intellectual class—and humans are lowly slaves. A chimp named Zaius (Roddy Macdowall) takes a special interest in Heston’s character, especially when he leaves apes aghast by revealing that he is able to talk. After a successful escape from the apes’ clutches, Heston realizes to his horror that he’s actually landed back on Planet Earth long after a nuclear holocaust. The film was based on a 1963 French novel called La Planète des Singesand the screenplay was cowritten by Rod Serling of Twilight Zone fame.

Jubilee (1978)

Jubilee is an art house time travel movie with strong political overtones.

A British cult classic of the punk era, Jubilee has time travel and powerful 70s punk rock soundtrack. Queen Elizabeth I enters a time machine and is brought hundreds of years into the future of the United Kingdom. There she encounters a new world of gangs, totalitarian police, and a new wasteland of the earth. As much political commentary as sci-fi, the movie is avant-garde to the fullest extent.

Time After Time (1979)

The serial killer Jack the Ripper uses a time machine to head to modern San Francisco.

This review sums the movie up perfectly: “It was such an off the wall concept: H.G. Wells didn’t just write ‘The Time Machine’ but built a working model himself! And, unbeknownst to Wells, a cornered Jack the Ripper uses it to escape, traveling forward to modern day America, forcing the usually reserved Wells to steel his nerves and pursue the bloody serial killer across time! Brilliant! And while the concept is a simple but terrific one, it is the other aspects of the film itself that make it the delight that it is.”

Somewhere in Time (1980)

Jane Seymour plays Elise McKenna in this romantic fantasy film.

Somewhere in Time, starring Christopher Reeves and Jane Seymour, is one of the most romantic time travel movies ever made. Christopher Reeves character is a young playwright in college. After the performance of his first play, an old woman comes up to him and says “come back to me” and hands him a watch. Reeves is befuddled. Almost a decade later, he starts exploring who this woman might have been, which eventually leads him to discovering how to travel back in time and meet her when she was young. The movie is most remembered for some of the romantic lines in the movie; such as “I cannot find the words. Except for these: I love you.” Such would I say to him if he were really here.”

Time Bandits (1981)

King Agamemnon and his brunette concubine in Time Bandits.

This is the first in a trilogy of British fantasy adventure comic-book adaptations by Terry Gilliam of Monty Python fame. All three films involve human suffering and the struggle to escape it through the powers of imagination: Time Bandits shows it through a child’s eyese, whereas Brazil (1985) shows it through the eyes of an adult in his thirties, and The Adventures of Baron Munchausen (1988) depicts it through the eyes of an elderly man. Time Bandits depicts the struggles of an 11-year-old boy named Kevin, who is obsessed with ancient history and becomes privy to a magical map he keeps in his bedroom that serves as a time portal. Kevin joins a group of dwarves who invade his bedroom through the map as they travel back through Italy during the Napoleonic Wars and ancient Greece during the reign of King Agamemnon. However, their adventures are interrupted by a giant floating head known as the Supreme Being, who demands his map back and forces Kevin to return to the present, where he wakes up to discover that his house is on fire.

The Terminator (1984)

Terminator was one of director James Cameron’s first blockbuster hits.

In this first film of a highly successful science-fiction franchise, Arnold Schwarzenegger stars as a cyborg sent back from the year 2029 to the year 1984 to kill a woman named Sarah Connor, who if left alive will give birth to a son who will save humanity against an inevitable dictatorship of the machines that wishes to inaugurate a nuclear holocaust and a post-apocalyptic future. Not knowing his exact target, the cyborg begins randomly killing all women named Sarah Connor in the Los Angeles area. But then a soldier is also sent back to kill the cyborg and save humanity. 

Trancers (1985)

Alternate title: Future Cop.

In this sci-fi action film that was also released as Future Cop, a simple injection of a drug allows time travelers to take over the body of an ancestor. Tim Thomerson plays Jack Deth, a hip police detective from the 23rd century who has been hunting Martin Whistler, an evil criminal genius who uses his psychic abilities to turn people into brain-dead “trancers” who mindlessly carry out his commands. These “trancers” seem normal, but when under duress, they turn into bloodthirsty killers. Through a drug injection, Jack Deth travels back to the 1980s to prevent the chain of events that led to Martin Whistler’s ascendance from ever happening.

Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home (1986)

An alien from the future invades the USA in the 1980s.

Directed by Leonard Nimoy—who also directed 1984’s Star Trek III: The Search for Spock—this film completes the science-fiction story arc introduced by 1982’s Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan. The former crew of the USS Enterprise attempts to return home to Earth to face trial for crimes committed in the previous sequel. But it’s the year 2286, and a giant cylindrical probe is hurtling through space, sending out indecipherable signals that knock out the power of every spaceship it passes. The crew of the Enterprise realizes that this alien probe is attempting to contact now-extinct humpback whales, so they travel back in time to 1986 to capture a humpback whale and transport it to the future to avert an alien invasion.

The Navigator: A Medieval Odyssey (1988)

Medieval men from England dig a tunnel into New Zealand in the 1900s.

This is an Australian-New Zealand co-production that dabbles in supernatural science fiction. Seeking escape from the devastating “Black Death” pandemic that killed 25 million people in Europe during the 14th century, a group of men follow a gifted boy’s vision and dig a tunnel from England in the 1300s to New Zealand in the 1900s—but they don’t realize they’ve time-traveled; they only assume that all big cities are this modern and shiny. As in The Wizard of Oz, the movie turns from black-and-white to color once they’ve made their trip.

Back To The Future Part II (1989)

This sequel grossed $336 million at the box office.

In this, the second installment of the famous time-travel movie series, the Flux Capacitor and DeLorean time machine are back, enabling Marty McFly—who is now living in the year 2015—to return to the year 1955 to prevent disastrous events from happening in 1985, while being careful not to interfere with anything that occurred in his first trip. This sci-fi comedy time-travel film was one of the most successful movies of the year, grossing $336 million in box-office receipts.

Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure (1989)

Bill (left) and Ted (right) turn out to not be nearly as dumb as they look.

The 1980s and early 1990s featured a glut of dumb-but-lovable stoner duos—Wayne and Garth from Wayne’s World, Beavis and Butt-head, and also Bill (Alex Winter) and Ted (Keanu Reeves), two seemingly dimwitted teens who live in San Dimas, CA and must pass a history class to avoid Ted’s father, a police captain, sending his son away to military school in Alaska and forever subverting Bill and Ted’s plan to change history through the music of their band, the “Wyld Stallyns.” The “time machine” they use is actually a phone booth, but Bill and Ted are able to travel back in time to befriend Billy the Kid, Socrates, Sigmund Freud, Ludwig van Beethoven, Genghis Khan, Abraham Lincoln, and Joan of Arc—and drag them into the 1980s, where they enable Bill and Ted to give an impressive history presentation that ensures the continuance of their band and also allows them to eventually rule the world as humanity’s “Two Great Ones” in the year 2688.

Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991)

The Terminator franchise has a lot of time travel.

In this sequel time-travel film that many deem superior to the original, it is now the year 1995, and Sarah Connor is living in Los Angeles. Her son John—who is destined to become humanity’s savior and lead a successful uprising against a dictatorship of the cyborgs and a planned nuclear holocaust in 1997 that is preemptively dubbed “Judgment Day”—is a small child separated from his mother and living with foster parents. A new, more advanced Terminator—one who is made of liquid metal and is able to shapeshift—is sent from the future to kill little John Connor. But John has a new protector—the original Terminator (Arnold Schwarzenegger), who has returned to reprise his role from the first film, only this time he’s fighting for the good guys.

Forever Young (1992)

Famed filmmaker  J. J. Abrams wrote the screenplay to Forever Young.

The narrative setup of the film involves cryogenics more than zipping through the space time continuum. A test pilot is transported from 1939 to 1992 and falls in love. One lover of the film praises the way the storyline transpires many genres: “The movie, every bit a sci-fi film, manages to be a pretty engaging chick-flick as well. What I like most about it is that it manages to balance both genre’s fairly convincingly and in the process we are left with a nice piece of fiction, although something that won’t go down as a classic film by any stretch of the imagination, still manages to have great pacing and keep its audiences attention until the final, beautiful moments.”

Groundhog Day (1993)

In the United States, Groundhog Day is in National Film Registry for being “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant.”

Groundhog Day is a classic time travel film and perhaps the greatest fantasy comedy ever made. Bill Murray’s character is forced to relive the same day, February 2, over and over again. He’s stuck in a time loop with no way out. The film is comical and heartwarming. It also captures an important paradox of time for all of us—how do we break out of our own habits and beliefs and see the world as something new? While all might not be stuck in a literal time loop, our daily routines can frequently put us in a metaphorical time loop that Groundhog Day lays bare and inspires us to break and be open to the new.

Timecop (1994)

Timecop stars Jean-Claude Van Damme as a time-traveling crime-fighter.

This science-fiction action film stars Jean-Claude Van Damme as a time-traveling crime-fighter named Max Walker who shuttles back and forth between the years 1994 and 2004 in his attempts to subvert a corrupt politician’s plans. In 1994, the US Justice Department asks the Senate Appropriations Committee to approve the establishment of the “Time Enforcement Commission (TEC),” whose sole purpose is to thwart crimes that are committed through time travel. This involves dragging someone responsible for the 1929 stock-market crash into the future to stand trial for his crimes; as punishment, he is sent back to 1929, where he commits suicide.

12 Monkeys (1995)

12 Monkeys: A portal to the past may stave off a pandemic in the future.

Shot in Philadelphia and Baltimore, 12 Monkeys was directed by Terry Gilliam of Time Bandits and Brazil fame. In the year 2035, a man named James Cole is imprisoned in a subterranean compound beneath the devastated ruins of Philadelphia. He is selected for a special project where he travels back to 1996 to trace the roots of a deadly virus that wiped out almost all of humanity and was spread by a group known as the Army of the Twelve Monkeys. Cole, who accidentally travels all the way back to World War I and gets shot in the foot, is also troubled by the memory of a shooting at the airport—which provides a clue to the deadly pandemic. The film enjoyed a worldwide gross of $168.8 million.

Retroactive (1997)

Retroactive: A woman seeks revenge against an abusive husband.

James Belushi stars as an abusive husband named Frank; Kylie Travis stars as his wife, Karen. They wind up in a gas station in the middle of the desert where Frank attempts to kill Karen. She escapes into the desert, and as her tremendous luck would have it, she winds up at a laboratory where a scientist is testing a time machine on mice. In an alternate-reality time loop that sort of resembles a backward-looking Groundhog Day, Karen is repeatedly sent back 20 minutes to the gas station until Frank meets a satisfying demise.

Blast from the Past (1999)

This is a time travel movie that could actually happen and be real.

This romantic comedy film by Hugh Wilson is the most realistic time-travel movie on the list. Brendan Fraser has lived his whole life in a bomb shelter, and now at the age of the 30, his dad—played by Christopher Walken—allows him to the leave the bunker. Fraser’s character is indeed a blast from the past, as he knows nothing about society and current pop culture;, all he knows is what he knew 30 years ago when he went into the bunker. While technically it’s not a time travel movie, it does deal with time distortion, and it’s rather fun and heartwarming movie.

Donnie Darko (2001)

Donnie Darko is a strange time-travel movie.

Donnie Darko is cult cinema of the early 2000s at i’s best. It’s quietly a superhero movie about a young man who stops a black hole from opening up and destroying the universe. To do this, Donnie discreetly and bizarrely travels through an alternate timeline of how the universe could unfold. It’s all rather philosophical and abstract, yet the movie works as sheer entertainment, even if the film’s time-travel aspect is too obscure.

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (2004)

Harry Potter (right) and friends use a device called the Time Turner to travel back in time in one-hour increments.

In this third installment of one of the most successful literary and film franchises of all time, Harry and friends use the Time Turner, an hourglass that sends you back one hour in time for every time you turn it upside-down and reset the trickling sand. This proves to be a life-saver for Harry, who learns to his dismay that the evil Lord Voldemort has escaped Azkaban prison and is seeking to kill him.

Primer (2004)

Primer: Four inventors develop an exciting but flawed time-travel device.

Four inventor friends accidentally invent a time-travel machine. Working out of a garage and involved in an experiment to determine the effects of electromagnetic energy on an object’s weight, they stumble upon a method to successfully transport people back and forth in time. Working on this discovery, one of the inventors perfects a stable time-travel apparatus he calls “the box,” which is big enough to fit one adult human. They are able to successfully replicate an experiment where they travel back and forth for six hours at a clip over the course of a few days. This allows them to do things such as successfully make stock purchases in advance of market fluctuations. However, their device is not perfect—one of the kinks is that time-traveling gives them headaches that are so severe, their ears bleed.

The Butterfly Effect (2004)

Ashton Kutcher realizes to his dismay that the blackouts he experienced as a youth were actually the result of time travel.

In this mixture of drama, sci-fi, and supernatural thriller, Ashton Kutcher stars as Evan Treborn, a troubled young man who has suffered blackouts throughout his youth. He was nearly strangled to death by his father when very young and then witnessed prison guards murdering his father. He was also forced to participate in child pornography by a sadistic brother. And he accidentally killed his mother and younger sister while playing around with dynamite. Then, while reading his journal, he realizes that by recalling the blackout memories via flashbacks, he is able to travel back in time in an attempt to re-route the course of his life. But after all the time-traveling causes him brain damage and nosebleeds, he burns all his journals and returns to a newly happy life in the present.

Southland Tales (2006)

Southland Tales: The most inept time-travel movie ever made?

Amy Poehler. Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson. Justin Timberlake, Mandy Moore, Sarah Michelle Gellar, Seann William Scott, and many more Hollywood A-listers star in this science-fiction comedy thriller of the movie from Donnie Darko director Richard Kelly. Yet while it has famous names attached to it, this is probably the most confusing, messy, abstract, and nonsensical time-travel movie ever made—anything but a formulaic Hollywood blockbuster.

How is time travel related to the film? Even that is perplexing, but suffice it to say that one of the characters notes that his reflection is delayed in the mirror and some kind of black hole thing opened up in a desert that is causing a wave of mutating chaos throughout the space-time continuum, particularly for Dwayne Johnson and Seann William Scott’s characters. As an aside, Justin Timberlake has a nice musical number in it, too, lip-synching to The Killers. Yeah this is the weirdest time travel movie of all time.

Kate & Leopold (2001)

Meg Ryan and Hugh Jackman as star-crossed and time-traveling lovers.

This is a favorite time-travel movie for people who also like a good romantic comedy. An English duke from 1876 named Leopold (Hugh Jackman) finds himself transported to modern-day New York, where he falls in love with a woman named Kate (Meg Ryan). It turns out that Leopold became a time traveler after being yanked through a time portal by his great-great-grandson, a physicist named Stuart. But when they realize they’d all prefer living in 1876, they jump off a bridge and commit suicide, enabling them to travel back to a romanticized past.

13 Going On 30 (2004)

A bullied 13-year-old girl is granted her wish to be a 30-year-old woman instead.

This is a mix of a time-travel film and a revenge-against-the-bullies teen drama. Jennifer Garner stars as Jenna, a geeky girl stuck in 1987 who wishes more than anything to be popular. She is excited beyond belief when the “Six Chicks”—the most popular girls at school—agree to attend her birthday party, then she is humiliated beyond words when the girls arrive with boyfriends and make it clear the only reason they showed up was to steal her homework. She wishes she could get past the traumatic teen years and suddenly become thirty—and her wish comes true. After traveling back to 1987, she vows to live the intervening 17 years in the best way possible, leading to a happy ending where she gets the boy she wanted all along.

The Girl Who Leapt Through Time (2008)

Toki o kakeru shôjo (original title).

This 2006 Japanese-produced anime film employs surrealism and black comedy to tell the story of a high-school girl named Makoto, who discovers she has the ability to time-travel and in response keeps reliving the same day a la Groundhog Day to see if she can rectify the problems that are bothering her in life. She doesn’t need a time machine—she is able to “leap” from one time to the other. But in her selfish attempts to improve her life—such as avoiding tardiness, getting better grades, and singing the perfect karaoke song—she gradually realizes that she is adversely affecting others. 

Star Trek (2009)

A successful reboot of the famous TV series and film franchise.

This reboot of the entire Star Trek series is actually a prequel that traces the primary Star Trek characters through their time at the Starfleet Academy—an idea that was discussed by series creator Gene Roddenberry as early as 1968. With an entirely new cast, Kirk (Chris Pine) and Spock (Zach Quinto) join forces to battle Nero (Eric Bana), a Romulan from 129 years in the future who seeks to destroy the Federation. This was nominated for four Academy Awards and won the Oscar for Best Makeup—making it the first Star Trek film to win an Academy Award.

The Time Traveler’s Wife (2009)

Eric Bana time-travels but always reappears naked, which causes trouble with his wife.

In this romantic drama film, Henry DeTamble (Eric Bana) is a Chicago librarian who has a gene that causes him to time travel involuntarily, leading to several awkward unexplained absences from his wife. Even more awkwardly, whenever he reappears, he is naked. But his strange gift allows his younger self to survive a car crash that killed his mother. Roger Ebert offered the film guarded praise, calling it “a bittersweet love story. The warmth of the actors makes it surprisingly tender, considering the premise that is blatantly absurd. If you allow yourself to think for one moment of the paradoxes, contradictions and logical difficulties involved, you will be lost.”

Hot Tub Time Machine (2010)

A hot tub transports users back to the 1980s.

In this science-fiction comedy starring John Cusack, Crispin Glover, and Chevy Chase, a group of buddies take one disconsolate friend to the Kodiak Valley Ski Resort, a place where they all used to party during the 1980s. However, a malfunctioning time machine inside a hot tub and a weird Russian energy drink actually transport them to the world of their younger selves. They don’t notice this until the next day at the slopes, where they notice that everyone has 1980s haircuts and clothes and Michael Jackson is still dark-skinned. They realize that they must carefully avoid all mistakes they made in the interim while slowly traveling back to the future, and they succeed—when they arrive back in the present, they are much happier and more successful than they were the first time around.

Source Code (2011)

A soldier wakes up in someone else’s body.

Source Code involves a very limited time machine—one that only transports you back eight minutes—and stars Jake Gyllenhaal as a soldier who is placed in an automated body and repeatedly sent back eight minutes to avert a terrorist bombing. At first he thinks he’s merely being sent through a virtual-reality simulator until he realizes it’s all real. During his second-to-last trip back, he is able to find the bomb. During his final trip, he finds the bomber.

Looper (2012)

Bruce Willis stars as Old Joe.

In the year 2074, technology is so advanced and people are under such constant surveillance that the mob finds it impossible to successfully dispatch murder victims. “Loopers” are what the mob calls contract killers that they send back in time to murder people—unbeknownst to them, when they “loop” back to the future, they are also killed. Bruce Willis stars as Old Joe, who is in constant battle with his future self, past self, and younger self.

Marvel’s The Avengers (2012)

The Avengers assemble to prevent Loki from enslaving humanity.

In this sci-fi fantasy from Marvel, the evil mastermind Loki, who is manipulated by a more evil genius named Thanos, activates the Tesseract, which opens a wormhole that allows Loki to reach Earth. The wormhole is situated over New York City, and several of the Avengers assemble and are able to successfully re-route a nuclear missile fired at Midtown Manhattan to the point where it travels back through the wormhole and destroys Loki’s forces.

Safety Not Guaranteed (2012)

A woman answers a joke ad that turns out not to be a joke.

This film was inspired by an actual joke classified ad placed in Backwoods Home Magazine in 1997:

Wanted: Somebody to go back in time with me. This is not a joke. P.O. Box 91 Ocean View, WA 99393. You’ll get paid after we get back. Must bring your own weapons. I have only done this once before. SAFETY NOT GUARANTEED.

Darius Britt is a disaffected woman who lives with her widower father and who answers the ad out of curiosity. Along with a magazine editor named Kenneth, they realize that the ad is not a joke. Darius is able to save her mother’s life, and Kenneth is able to save the life of an ex-girlfriend named Belinda.

About Time (2013)

A young man with the ability to time travel must decide between the present and the past.

At age 21, a young man named Tim learns that the male members of his family have an ability to travel back in time to moments they have previously lived. To do this, they must enter a dimly lit space, clench their fists, and visualize the memory they wish to return to. Tim spends much of his time attempting to reunite with a girl, only to realize she never wanted him in the first place. He visits his terminally ill father—whose cancer cannot be cured via time travel—in the past to experience warm memories once more. But hard experience teaches him that it is always wisest to live in the present.

Edge of Tomorrow (2014)

Edge of Tomorrow: Groundhog Day, but with a military bent.

In yet another retread of the Groundhog Day theme where one day is relived over and over until someone gets it right, a soldier who fights aliens gets to relive the same day every time he is killed. The soldier gradually realizes that the aliens—known as “Mimics”—are manipulated by a higher life form known as “Alphas.” Once he is exposed to an Alpha’s blood, the soldier is able to subvert the aliens’ ability to time travel. The film is based on a screenplay that was adapted from a 2004 Japanese novel called All You Need Is Kill.

Interstellar (2014)

Scientists seek to exploit a wormhole near Saturn to save the human race.

In the year 2067, dust storms and crop failures threaten to render humanity extinct. The only crop that grows is corn—which provides almost no nutrition—and younger generations are mindless zombies who are fed false propaganda about history. But scientists discover that 48 years prior, someone positioned a wormhole near the planet Saturn that opens a path to a distant galaxy containing at least a dozen planets that may be able to support human life. Problem is, this galaxy is also positioned near a devastating black hole named Gargantua…

Predestination (2014)

Predestination is based on a 1959 Robert A. Heinlein short story called “All You Zombies.”

A a cop named John is nearing retirement. His last wish is to travel back in time to prevent the infamous “Fizzle Bomber” from attacking New York. An agent teaches him how to travel back in time. He travels back to 1963 in an attempt to repair a relationship with a woman named Jane, which would also save the life of a baby they had together. But due to what is known as a “predestination paradox,” in the end we find out that John, Jane, the baby, and the “Fizzle Bomber” are all the same person.

X-Men: Days of Future Past (2014)

The X-Men find themselves in a dystopian future that only a travel back in time can remedy.

In the year 2023, the world is a dystopian mess where cyborgs known as Sentinels are trained to hunt down and kill all mutants and any humans who attempt to kill them. Wolverine suddenly awakens in that year to find Iceman, Colossus, Kitty, Hank, Storm, and Xavier alive. They use a time-travel device to warn other X-Men of the impending Sentinel attacks. Also using a time-travel device, Trask—leader of the Sentinel program—travels back to 1973 to convince President Richard Nixon to launch the Sentinel program, and he succeeds. Wolverine is sent back to the same time period in order to rouse the troops.

Arrival (2016)

An alien language allows humans to transcend the present.

After a dozen alien spaceships suddenly appear above the world, a linguist struggles to decipher the aliens’ language. The linguist, Louise Banks, has recently suffered the loss of her 12-year-old daughter to a terminal illness. She gradually realizes that the aliens’ secret “weapon” is their language—which, if properly learned by a human, permanently alters their linear perception of time and allows them to see the future and past. She then starts to have flashbacks about her daughter. Then, to her extreme horror, she realizes that her daughter has yet to be born.

Doctor Strange (2016)

In this Marvel superhero film, a brilliant New York surgeon named Stephen Strange injures his hands in a car crash, destroying his ability to perform surgery. He ignores colleagues’ advice to pursue a different career in medicine and instead desperately seeks alternative cures. He is drawn into the world of mystical arts under the guidance of a sorcerer named Mordo, who has studied under the Ancient One. The Ancient One reveals not only the astral plane to Dr. Strange, she shows him the Dark Dimension—where time does not exist. Through time loops and an alternate dimension, Strange learns how to fix his precious hands.

Reset (2017)

A woman uses a time machine to save her son from being killed in the future.

In this Chinese sci-fi thriller directed by Jackie Chan, a female time machine inventor creates three versions of her future self, which travel to three different universes to save her son from being killed in the future. GirlsWithGuns praised the film for its “fresh and original concept, exactly the kind of thing which Hollywood desperately needs in the genre of late.”

Time Trap (2017)

This low-budget sci-fi movie was made popular through distribution on Netflix. Here is how a critic at Inverse describes the movie: “Time Trap is the perfect indie gem to see storytelling in its most simple form. The exposition takes a found-footage angle, making it feel all the more real, even when the footage is found in the suit of an 8-foot-tall spaceman. Yes, it’s cheesy, but it strikes the perfect balance of mindless fun and thought-provoking concepts.”

Avengers: Endgame (2019)

Avengers: Infinity War: As of late 2020, the biggest box-office success in film history.

After the devastating events of Avengers: Infinity War (2018), the universe is in ruins. With the help of remaining allies, the Avengers assemble once more to reverse Thanos’s actions and restore balance to the universe. They use “Infinity Stones” to time trave,l and Thor locates Thanos hiding on a remote planet, where he decapitates him. As of 2020, Avengers: Endgame had grossed $2.8 billion, making it the highest-grossing film of all time.

When We First Met (2018)

When We First Met is an amusing and silly time travel movie about being stuck in the friend zone.

When We First Met is a good example of a time travel movie used as a narrative structure for a romantic comedy. Adam DeVine of Comedy Central’s Workaholics holds the film together and while many parts of the film are cliché, it is still an amusing film to watch on a rainy day. It a Netflix original and worldwide distribution of the film is owned by Netflix.

See You Yesterday (2019)

Stream See You Yesterday for free on Netflix with a subscription.

Racism, police violence, and time travel meet in this Netflix original movie. Two genius teenagers solve the most important scientific question of all time, how to move through time. In a review of the film for the New York Times, film critic Candice Frederick remarks: “Stefon Bristol’s film imagines what Back to the Future might look like with a black cast. The stakes turn out to be significantly higher.”

Palm Springs (2020)

Palm Springs streams on Hulu exclusively and is a Hulu original.

Andy Samberg and Cristin Milioti star in this fiercely original and deeply funny film about a time loop. Inspired by the Groundhog Day formula, Palm Springs takes a more nihilistic approach to being stuck in the same day forever. The result is a wicked ride that makes you confront not only all the fun a person could have if they could live the same over and over again with no consequences for their actions, but paradoxically the great existential dread that comes with living a life of no responsibility.

Other Time Travel Movies

Lucy (2014) is a French time travel film starring Scarlett Johansson and Morgan Freeman.
  • Cyborg 2087 (1966) takes place in the year 2087, where governments are now using totalitarianism to control the population. A group of “free thinkers” send a cyborg time traveler back into the past to target the person they believe is responsible for their dystopian society.
  • Journey To The Center Of Time (1967) is a remake of the classic sci-fi flick The Time Travelers (1964). Time travel scientists are driven to desperate measures to secure continued funding for their experiments. They travel 5,000 years into the future, back into the dinosaur age, then reach their ultimate fate in space.
  • Je t’aime, je t’aime (1968) is a 60s sci-fi time travel film from France. A suicide survivor just released from the hospital agrees to participate in a mysterious time travel experiment. He is sent back in time and forced to relive his most painful memories.
  • Cavegirl (1985) follows a high school boy who gets lost on a class trip and ends up entering a time portal that sends him to the Stone Age. He falls in love and must fight off murderously jealous cannibal cavemen!
  • Flight of the Navigator (1986) opens on a young man discovering that he has been the face of a missing child poster for the past eight years. The plot weaves together alien spaceships, time dilation, and mind transfers.
  • Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me (1999) is a 1960s-inspired film that follows a cheeky British spy who fights his nemesis throughout time in an effort to save his future self. Dr. Evil has invented a powerful new time machine and is determined to sabotage Austin Powers’s future.
  • Frequency (2000) centers on a NYC detective whose firefighter father died in a tragic accident thirty years earlier. The detective ends up finding a faulty radio that opens a channel of communication across time between him and his late father.
  • Click (2006) features a workaholic husband and father, played by Adam Sandler, who discovers a magic remote-control device that allows him to control time and fast-forward through any moment in life that he wishes. He soon discovers devastating disadvantages to this technological miracle.
  • Déjà Vu (2006) stars Denzel Washington as a experimental government agent who travels back in time to save the city of New Orleans from a horrifying terrorist attack. Modern technology allows him to piece together clues from the past to prevent the terrorist from striking in the future.
  • Premonition (2007) is a supernatural thriller about a woman whose husband dies suddenly. The storyline weaves throughout the widow’s experiences in the days leading up to his death. She attempts to piece together clues to identify his killer and save herself.
  • Haunted – 3D (2011) marks India’s first 3D feature film release. This supernatural horror flick focuses on a realtor responsible for selling a haunted house. He experiences sinister paranormal presences and travels back in time to prevent them from ever coming alive.
  • 11 A.M. (2013) is a Korean sci-fi thriller that dives into a futuristic underwater marine laboratory where a time machine is invented. Surveillance-camera footage offers the lab workers clues on troubling mysteries of the past.
  • Lucy (2014) stars Scarlett Johansson as a young woman who is kidnapped and forced to conceal and smuggle drugs into Europe. An accident punctures the powerful drugs into her bloodstream, causing her to develop psychokinetic powers such as time travel and telekinesis.
  • Synchronicity (2016) a sci-fi movie inspired much by Blade Runner, a man needs to travel back in time to stop an attractive young women and a wealthy tycoon from stealing his invention.
  • The Man With The Magic Box (2019) is Polish sci-fi dystopian film set in 2030. A janitor finds a time-traveling device and accidentally gets himself stuck in 1950s Communist Poland.
  • In the Shadow of the Moon (2019) is yet another science fiction movie from Netflix and that is streaming there.
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