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From Back to Future to Tenet: Time travel films to watch if you feel like escaping 2021

About 400 films and 100 years later, time travel still forms the basis of many new-age films currently streaming across OTT.

Here’s looking at some of the best time-travel films you can currently watch online:

Audita Bhattacharya
Jun 07, 2021
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Even though the possibility of being actually able to teleport yourself into another era might be next to none, there is no harm or foul done in actually attempting to do so through the reel lens. Time travel, a concept that has inspired directors, writers, poets across decades and platforms, is still as exciting as it was when A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court released back in 1921, based on Mark Twain’s 1889 novel of the same name. There were films that did not do justice to it like the 2002 film The Time Machine but then there were films like Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home that quickly became cult classics. About 400 films and 100 years later, time travel still forms the basis of many new-age films currently streaming across OTT.

Here’s looking at some of the best time-travel films you can currently watch online:

  1. Back to the Future

The iconic time travel adaptation of the ’80s stars Michael J. Fox as Marty McFly, a teenager who accidentally interrupts his parents’ first meeting by traveling back in time to 1955 and becoming his mother’s love interest. As hilarious and bizarre as the premise is, the film is wonderfully fun and easily a go-to film for a bad day!

2. Doctor Strange

Everyone’s favorite detective-turned-surgeon-turned-sorcerer, Benedict Cumberbatch as Doctor Stephen Strange quickly became a favorite after this film! Marvel Cinematic Universe’s latest neurosurgeon loses his hand in a tragic accident. In a desperate attempt to heal himself, he visits Kmar-Taj, where a revered sorcerer, The Ancient One tells him the secret to his recovery and his life! For an entire film based around time, the climax is where the real deal is.

3. Edge of Tomorrow

Tom Cruise and Emily Blunt! Need I say more? Playing an officer who is demoted and forced to fight combat without training, Cruise’s character quickly gets killed but takes down an alien with him which throws him into a time loop. Forced to experience the same day of fighting and dying on repeat, this film mixes time travel with other sci-fi elements making it a very clever film.

4. 13 Going on 30

I must say: perhaps this is the best time travel movie of all. 13-year-old Jenna gets her greatest wishes fulfilled when some enchanted dust falls on her head in a closet at her birthday party and she wakes up in an apartment as a 30-year-old woman (Jennifer Garner). Jenna has no choice but to quickly learn the ropes of her adult life. Not only is the concept original and fun, but it sheds light on the beauty of savouring childhood innocence and optimism in an overly pessimistic world.

5. Twelve Monkeys

One of the most interesting perspectives in time travel films, a convict from 2035 goes back in time to discover the cause of a deadly virus. This film is a little too close to our current reality. But hold on. The twist in the tale occurs when he ends up in the wrong year, gets held in a mental hospital and discovers the Army of the 12 Monkeys, thought to be responsible for the virus! A fantastic cast and a superb plotline make this film a huge time travel success!

6. Arrival

Denis Villeneuve’s Arrival is an entry that might not seem like a time travel movie at first impression, but in fact, it is embedded into the film from its very first scene. The film follows a linguistics professor (Amy Adams) who is asked to attempt deciphering the language of the new life form that has landed on Earth. While it may not come across as a time travel movie in the conventional sense, it will leave viewers with much to think about long after the credits roll.

7. Looper

Rian Johnson creates a unique world of sci-fi along with a backdrop of complex characters. Time travel is available on the black market and the mob is sending those who they don’t want, 30 years back in the past. When they arrive, a hitman, played by Joseph Gordon Levitt, cleans up their mess. Thought-provoking, entertaining and a fairly unpredictable must-watch!

8. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban

Not only is this the best film in the Harry Potter franchise, but it is also a brilliant film for time-travel fanatics! In his third year at Hogwarts, Harry finds himself entangled with Sirius when a magical object, the time turner, plays a key role in the outcomes of the film. Alfonso Cuaron’s direction alongside the riveting story makes this a hard one to miss!

9. X-Men: Days of Future Past

In an epic X-Men installment, the X-Men join forces with their younger selves in order to change the past and salvage their future. Both time periods come together in order to save their species, all wonderfully brought together through time travel. This arguably made for one of the best X-Men movies in the franchise, and the time travel element really showcases the character development here.

10. Donnie Darko

This is one of the most profound, thought-provoking films made about time travel. Despite how intrinsically woven time travel is into the film, you will not be able to decipher it very early on. Donnie Darko, played by Jake Gyllenhaal, encounters a rabbit named Frank who informs him that in 28 days the world will end. In the coming days, bizarre events begin to happen that are directly linked to the theme of time travel.

11. Predestination

Ethan Hawke shines in Predestination, in which he plays an agent who travels through time in order to stop criminals from going through with their crimes. The plot is fairly unpredictable, and it’s one that will make you think. Close attention to detail will pay off when watching this movie and intricacy often makes for the best time travel films.

12. Interstellar

Nolan’s masterpiece is a time travel film that brings literally another dimension to it, that too in an absolutely stunning way. In a dystopian future, a group of astronauts travel through a wormhole in order to find a new home for humans struggling for survival on earth. Matthew McConaughey, Jessica Chastain, and Anne Hathaway make for a brilliant cast in this three-hour unique exploration of mankind.

13. Source Code

In another film following in the footsteps of Groundhog Day, our protagonist (played by Jake Gyllenhaal) enters the body of someone new as he attempts to prevent a mass murder attack on a commuter train, re-living the incident over again. The film is more for entertainment than anything to think too deeply about. It makes for some good action sequences.

14. Synchronic

If you’re obsessed with the Falcon as we are, you’d love to see Anthony Mackie playing a paramedic who discovers a new drug that allows him to travel back in time. The brilliant mood of the film set in New Orleans, with its bizarre French and Spanish colonial history alongside American jazz and civil rights, is perfect. With hints of nostalgia, this film leaves the viewers with a great appreciation for the present.

15. Tenet

John David Washington’s portrayal of a skilled CIA agent with the ability to manipulate time is the essence of the film. As he attempted to protect the world from an imminent annihilation, we follow his story. Christopher Nolan who is known for his Memento and Inception vows us in this action-packed thriller!

While it seems like there are so many titles on this list, there were also so many wonderful ones that couldn’t make the list like Groundhog Day and About Time, which are coming to Netflix soon. But in terms of escapism, time-travel movies are pretty great. Since we can’t really travel through time (yet), I suppose watching movies about it is the next best thing.

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