The Best Time Travel Movies You’ve Never Seen

(Welcome to The Best Movies You’ve Never Seen, a series that takes a look at slightly more obscure, under-the-radar, or simply under-appreciated movies. This week we go time-hopping with some underappreciated movies about time travel!)

Time travel is a peculiar thing. In movies, I mean, not real life where we all do it every single day from one second to the next. The story ideas built on its back have resulted in several of our favorite films over the years including Back to the Future, Predestination, Edge of Tomorrow, Time Bandits, Primer, Edge of Tomorrow, The Terminator, Looper, and Edge of Tomorrow. The very concept, though, is prone to all manner of inconsistencies, plot holes, and head-scratchers, and you’d be hard-pressed to find an example of a time travel movie without at least a single frustrating paradox.

So why bother trying? Instead, we’re going to take a look at six more great time travel movies that entertain despite not catching on with the general public. They’re lesser known but not less worthy of your time. See what I did there? You’re welcome.

The Amazing Mr. Blunden (1972)

A woman and her kids are temporarily rescued from squalor after she’s mysteriously hired as housekeeper at a remote country estate. Her kids quickly discover the truth behind it all when ghosts from the past come asking for help. The two dead children recruit the living, and using a smelly concoction as a liquid time machine the children are whisked backward one hundred years in the hopes of saving their new dead friends’ lives.

Sound grim, doesn’t it? Well that’s the beauty of “kids” movies from the 1970s – they may be G-rated, but they didn’t mind being disturbing as hell when the situation called for it. Here our hero kids are tasked with preventing two other children from burning to death, and it won’t be easy as an extra layer of terror exists in the realization that the fire will be no accident. Some nasty people are planning to off the kids in pursuit of their inheritance, and the callousness of their intentions darkens the already bleak and oppressive situation even further.

The Mr. Blunden of the title is the one who hires their mom on in 1918, but he’s also present in 1818. What sorcery is this you might ask, understandably, and I can only say your question is answered in the film itself. He lends the story a character that wouldn’t feel out of place in Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, and while there’s no Christmas Day here there are ghosts, men in stockings, and good old-fashioned redemption.

The Amazing Mr. Blunden is available to stream on Amazon.

Lee’s Adventure (2011)

Temporal Dilation Disorder affects a person’s perception of time, and it’s no joke. Just ask Lee after he heads out to the park for lunch one day and returns a full year later. He finds comfort in a woman who suffers from the same illness, but when she dies in an accident his hopelessness leads to a different kind of time distortion – that’s right, time travel baby!

Jackie Chan’s son Jaycee takes lead here, but even that royal cinematic connection couldn’t stop this endlessly creative gem from getting lost in time seven years ago. It’s a damn shame too as the film’s energy level is through the roof. There’s no lack of creativity either as dinosaurs, Albert Einstein, Nazis, and Nicolas Cage – in anime form – all make an appearance too. Of course, more than a few of these elements and others come in the form of animated sequences, but while budget is to blame it leads to some crazy visuals and ideas so it’s no negative.

It’s a “kitchen sink” kind of sci-fi movie as everything is thrown into the mix, but the core of it all remains a very human need for connection and love. Chan gives a strong performance teasing his dad’s charisma and sense of humor while, dare I say it, showing better acting chops. He’s the heart of the movie, and that familiar humanity keeps us connected through the insanity that follows both in live action and animation.

Lee’s Adventure is not currently available.

Retroactive (1997)

A criminal psychiatrist on a drive across Texas sees car trouble land her in a world of hurt when she’s picked up by a brute and his timid wife. Domestic violence rears its ugly head, and when she runs for her life she does so straight into a science experiment that sends her back in time with a chance to save the other woman’s life. Things don’t quite go as planned.

I’ll be honest. This is the movie that made me theme this week’s column towards time travel in the first place. I’d never heard of it before, let alone seen it, but after watching it recently I fell instantly in love with its peculiar blend of crazy story turns and action chops. Frank Whaley is the scientist behind the science, Jim Belushi goes full tilt as the violent brute, and M. Emmet Walsh stops by as a confused shop-keeper too. The dialogue is increasingly nutty, and her attempts to save the woman lead to more and more deaths each time. That’s right, she tries more than once, and the body count keeps growing.

And the car stunt/action is legitimately good too! It has the feel of (far better) movies like The Hitcher and Breakdown in its vehicular carnage as big American gas guzzlers duke it out on otherwise deserted roads. They smash and crash with abandon, and the time factor means they plow into the same gas station to the point of explosion more than once. A kid sees his parents blow up before dying himself… it’s the kind of late-90s madness home video was made for!

Retroactive is available on Blu-ray from Amazon.

Continue Reading The Best Movies You’ve Never Seen >>

Pages: 1 2Next page

Cool Posts From Around the Web: