Tag Archive for time travel

Is a Good Time Travel Movie Really So Hard?

I see that Warner Brothers mangled (er, I mean made) Bradbury’s classic story “A Sound of Thunder” into B-grade movie. Given the source material, there was a chance the movie would actually be good. But alas, I hear it is, at best, so so.

I haven’t the heart to actually watch, because unfortunately, too many time travel movies I’ve seen lately have sucked T-Rex doo-doo.

I recently watched the 2002 remake of The Time Machine again. And as much as I would love to have the time machine prop from that film as the centerpiece in my living room, I remember now why it’s been years since I watched this film.

[ALERT! TIME MACHINE SPOILER] One thing in particular really ruined the movie, and made the hero seem like a whiny wimp to me. And that is that he goes back one time to try and save his true love. One time. And when that doesn’t work out, he spends the rest of the film on a quest to the future to discover why he can’t change the past.

Newsflash, bozo, you did change the past.

Instead of his love being killed by a mugger, she is killed by a man’s steam car. The mugger is free to commit more crimes on an entirely different couple. The man who owned the steam car has been changed forever, and probably arrested for manslaughter. And maybe, if you tried again, and tried a little harder, you could actually save your love on the third try. Why not give it a go, what the heck. She’s only the true love you broke the laws of time for. Surely she’s worth a whopping TWO tries?

A more recent example of stupid time travel movies is Premonition.

It sucked. And here’s the spoiler-free reason why:

She doesn’t actually try to change anything (except possibly at the end). So what’s the point of making a movie like this, a predictable and average marriage drama with the “twist” of the days shown out of order, if she doesn’t actually do anything different or special with her foreknowledge?

As soon as she realized she was jumping back and forth in time, the next time she jumped backwards she should have done everything she could to change future events.

I have one word for you, lady – Mapquest! Take a few minutes and look up an alternate route for your husband! Seriously.

There a hundred things she could have changed, such as not seeking out the doctor she knows will later commit her, or even scheduling the funeral for a different day.

But the absolute worse? The one that had me shouting “Oh my GAWD!” and ready to throw something at the screen?


“I’m a good mother!” she cries after her daughter crashes through a window and gets her face all cut up. The husband is all mangry about the fact that she didn’t put stickers on the window as they’d discussed so that the girls could see the window and NOT run into it.

Then she goes back in time to before that event, on Sunday, and does she put the stickers on? Does she save her daughter that pain and scarring? Or even just tell her daughter “Don’t run through the window when I ask you to get the laundry later”? NO!

Instead she goes running off seeking answers on her time jumping from … a priest, who inexplicably just whips out the big ole book about precognitive occurrences — you know, every church has one — and reads it to her??? WTF?

And I don’t want to hear crap about the immutable flow of time, theories on the inability to change future events, blah blah blah. Because, if she had tried and failed, well, that would be something now, wouldn’t it? I’m all for her trying to change the future but then events conspiring to put the timeline back in order and things proceeding as they were intended to anyway. That would be cool. That would be interesting. That would give her even greater reason for frustration and tension, as she fights against time itself and is thwarted. Will she succeed? We just don’t know.

But, again, SHE DIDN’T EVEN TRY!

And no, attempting to stop the accident at the end doesn’t count, because we don’t know she didn’t do so in the first place. And besides, that is a really, really lame “twist” ending when you see it coming from the start.

I mean, this is how much I hated Premonition – I actually enjoyed The Butterfly Effect by comparison. Seriously, an Ashton Kutcher film was frickin’ genius when compared to Premonition – that can’t be good.

At least The Butterfly Effect attempted to be clever about its back and forth time jumping, setting up his later jumps early in the movie. Unlike in both Time Machine and Premonition, he tries multiple times to change things, and we get to see how each small change in the past leads to largely different futures.

Heck, even Timecop with Jean-Claude Van Damme is better than the new Time Machine or Premonition. And dude, so is Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure, for that matter.

As for other time travel films:
Back to the Future was whacky fun-ness, if light on the science.

Twelve Monkeys is a great movie that used time travel well, but could have been equally great using some gimmick other than time travel.

Donnie Darko (theatrical version, not the director’s confuso-cut), one of my fave movies that has, among other things, a fairly satisfying use of time travel.

Michael Chrichton’s Timeline was okay, but lacked most of the science facts and science fictions that make the book great.

Somewhere in Time is a quiet little gem, but more a romance or drama than a “time travel” movie in my mind.

Both the 1960’s version of Time Machine, and the movie Time after Time, were enjoyable, especially compared to the 2002 Time Machine movie.

Millenium and The Final Countdown were so-so, Timerider is cheesy goodness, and Time Bandits is comic genius but could hardly be considered science fiction.

Groundhog Day and Run Lola Run are brilliant, but fall only loosely under the umbrella of time travel.

Star Trek IV and Star Trek First Contact were among the better Star Trek films (take that as you choose). And yes, SG-1 Season 8’s “Moebius” episodes were cool. But man did they blow “1969” – I mean, what the heck was up with that music?

Your Assignment

What about you? Any favorite time travel movies? Or television shows? (Greatest time travel show of all time – Dr. Who, Quantum Leap, or Voyagers? ) Or thoughts on the movies listed above? Or your own ideas for great time travel movies?

How about worse time travel movies (A Knight in Camelot with Whoopi Goldberg anyone?). Or general pet peeves about time travel movies (like superheroes that turn back time by flying around the earth really, really fast)?