Back to the Future (1985)
Another iconic take on time travel comes from Back to the Future. Michael J. Fox stars as Marty McFly, a teenager who accidentally travels back in time to 1955 and interrupts his parents’ first meeting, quickly becoming his own mother’s love interest. As bizarre and hilarious as the premise sounds, the film is wonderfully fun and enrapturing, and its widely loveable nature makes it easy to partake in multiple viewings of the film.
Planet of the Apes (1968)
Franklin J. Schaffner’s Planet of the Apes was perhaps one of the earliest films to play with time travel and managed to do so in a fairly unique way, even for its time. The film follows an astronaut crew who crash lands on a desolate planet situated 2000 years into the future. The crew soon discovers that apes have taken over as the dominant species of the planet, leaving humans to be the more primitive race. Time travel is utilized to portray quite the interesting role-reversal, and it was one powerful enough to launch a five-film series, along with a reboot series decades later.
Doctor Strange (2016)
A list of time travel movies wouldn’t be complete without mentioning everyone’s favorite time-manipulating sorcerer in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Benedict Cumberbatch plays Dr. Stephen Strange, a cocky neurosurgeon who loses destroys his hands in a tragic accident. Desperate to find a way to heal them, Strange visits Kamar-Taj, where he discovers his last shot at recovery is to train under the revered sorcerer known as the Ancient One (Tilda Swinton). Doctor Strange may not necessarily be considered a movie about time travel, but it certainly plays a significant role, especially in the film’s final showdown between hero and villain.
Hot Tub Time Machine (2010)
It’s not quite cinematic gold, but it seems impossible not to note when talking about time travel movies. The film stars John Cusack as Adam, who is taken back to 1986 with his two friends and nephew thanks to a time machine at a ski resort. Once there, they must make it through the entire night without changing anything to make sure that the nephew is stillborn. While it may not be anything more than light, charming fun, the film embraces its silliness—and really, how seriously should a movie about a time machine take itself?
Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home (1986)
This isn’t the only Star Trek movie on this list, but time travel plays a big role in The Voyage Home. In order to save Earth from a mysterious alien presence, Admiral Kirk and his crew head back to the late twentieth century, only to find that it is not quite what they expected. Another time travel film that refrains from taking itself too seriously and partakes in several lighthearted jokes, The Voyage Home is a great time travel movie and perhaps one of the best in the Star Trek franchise.