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The 16 Best Movies About Time Travel

The Playlist By The Playlist Staff | The Playlist September 28, 2012 at 1:58PM

Who hasn't wanted to go back and fix past mistakes? Or travel forward and see what's in store for you and for the world? It's for these reasons that time travel has remained such a popular plot device, from H.G. Wells' "The Time Machine" to the long-running TV show "Doctor Who" to this week's "Looper," the wildly acclaimed sci-fi action-thriller from "Brick" director Rian Johnson, starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Bruce Willis and Emily Blunt.
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Peggy Sue Got Married

“Peggy Sue Got Married" (1986)
It’s easy to forget that Francis Ford Coppola helmed "Peggy Sue Got Married,” the bizarre middle-aged response to “Back to the Future.” Where the latter seems to celebrate the strength you surprisingly find when life deems it necessary, 'Peggy Sue' revisits the past with judgment and misery. Kathleen Turner is compelling as the star who travels ‘back in time’ after a seizure at her 25th high school reunion, as long as you are able to suspend the disbelief that she is anything south of 35 years old. The bright star of the film is Nicolas Cage, who seems to shine whenever tasked with being a pained and heartbroken teen. 'Peggy Sue' attempts to show us that hasty decisions of youth can have lasting effects, such as lackluster marriages, bad jobs and disgruntled kids, but as an adult it’s impossible to view your past as anything but nostalgic. Turner embraces the youthfulness of her character and the many choices not taken, but what's most interesting about Peggy’s return to the past is the difference between the treatment of women in the '50s vs. the '80s. We wonder how the feminist angle would have been represented if Penny Marshall had directed, as originally planned, instead of Coppola. Either way, it was nice to take a trip down Peggy’s memory lane. [B+]

Planet Of The Apes

“Planet of the Apes" (1968)
“Damn you dirty apes, damn you all to hell!” barks Charlton Heston as Col. George Taylor in one of cinema’s greatest endings. Prior to that, we had seen the ruins of a future earth, now ruled under a hairy paw, with primates enslaving humankind and reorganizing the food chain. “Planet of the Apes” at times feels like a relic of an era reflecting great social change, but it’s this sober-headed sensibility that makes the absurdity of the premise palatable, and the gravity (and, yes, hamminess) of Heston’s portrayal that gives the picture a genre movie gravitas. An unquestionable highlight of an exciting era in genre filmmaking, even if the actual time-travel science performed countless somersaults in a series of sequels. [A-]

"Primer"
"Primer"

“Primer" (2004)
When cubicle co-workers take advantage of their free time and programming understanding, they create a device that allows them to travel through time, essentially multiplying themselves. Shane Carruth’s chilly debut, however, takes things in more cerebral, sinister directions, creating genuine horror out of the belief that, yes, anything is possible. You may need multiple viewings to fully parse what’s going on in “Primer,” which never slows down to allow the audience to decipher the possibilities present. We’re sadly still waiting for the follow-up from Carruth, who has struggled to find financing, though the no-budget “Primer” has more inventiveness and ideas than any of the science fiction films in the last decade. [A]

Somewhere In Time

“Somewhere in Time" (1980)
Also known as your mom’s favorite time-travel movie, “Somewhere in Time” is a swoony, sci-fi-inflected romance written by “Twilight Zone” regular Richard Matheson. But rather than employing other ‘80s time machines like a DeLorean or a phone booth, our hero Richard Collier (Christopher Reeve) simply uses his mind and hypnotizes himself into traveling to 1912, where he meets the object of his affection, then-famed actress Elise McKenna (Jane Seymour). They fall in love despite objections from her manager (a stern Christopher Plummer), but the ever-looming present is more of a threat to their romance. You’ll either laugh at the over-the-top silliness or well up with tears every time John Barry’s Rachmaninoff-inspired score swells, but “Somewhere in Time” is a cult favorite for the romantic set. We’ll give it a mediocre grade, but that doesn’t mean we’re not swayed. [C+]

This article is related to: Looper, Features


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