Tuesday 22 October 2013

Time travelling without moving...from the couch

Hoverboards - just do it.
My husband and I recently watched the movie Looper. You know, that slick time travel flick that came out last year, where Joseph Gordon-Levitt plays a mob-hired hitman who whacks people sent back in time from the future, which is all fine and dandy until he has to 'close the loop' and kill his future self (Bruce Willis)?

I was so pumped about watching this film, such an exciting and interesting story premise. Great actors too and it looked visually fantastic from the trailers. As far as those things went, it didn't disappoint. Where it did suck massively however was the plot - it didn't make any bloody sense! Forget about 'closing the loop,' the writers just left a giant piece of untied rope dangling for viewers to bend into some kind of vague explanation for themselves on what actually went down.

Where was Doc Brown and his blackboard timelines when I needed him?! The time travel aspects of this film were purely bogus - which is fine if you're Bill & Ted, but not suitable for this action thriller. It was ANNOYING. And such a waste of what could have been a brilliant film.

Sure, I knew going in it was a time travel movie (which means I should have left common sense at the door and enjoyed the ride), but I felt like the writers were simply lazy and didn't bother trying to make the story even half believable. And for that reason, I just couldn't shake their dirty, loopy timeline from my mind.

Left feeling pissed off, it made me think about all the other time travel movies out there which ARE really good. And there are heaps.

Time travel is super tricky to get right I know, and even the best in the genre have lots of mistakes. But they can be easily forgiven if the plot generally seems plausible (unlike Looper), or it's a crazy comedy where mistakes doesn't matter (the rest of the film of course has to be great too).

In my opinion, time travel movies should only fall into two categories:

1. Feel-good comedies where it's all just a silly, fun romp and plot sense means jack; or

2. On-the-edge-of-your-seat dramas or thrillers, where some serious shit goes down (as it should - because time travel in reality would be complicated, full of sacrifices and not so excellent)

So get your flux capacitor out, because here are my picks of top time travel flicks:

Back to the Future trilogy
Ah, the motherload of time travel entertainment. Simply amazing film-making here in all aspects, and so enjoyable you never get tired of watching it, no matter how old you get. I'm not even going to bother summing up the plot because if you haven't seen it or at least know what it's about, well quite frankly I don't know how you're alive right now. Also has the best time travel method in any movie by far.

Twelve Monkeys
Bruce Willis doing time travel as it should be done - with class AND intelligence. Oh, and with Brad Pitt, acting all cray cray. In the future a disease has devastated the world so Bruce is sent back in time to collect information on who might have caused it so the big wigs can prevent it ever happening. Weirdly wonderful, exciting and even tugs the heart strings.

Two words - f#cked up! This is a low budget indie about some ordinary dudes who are pretty smart so they invent a time machine, and things go really, really wrong. With no-name actors and little effects, it makes the story insanely realistic.

The Butterfly Effect
Ashton Kutcher does serious - and it works! A guy works out that the memory blank spots from his childhood are actually windows in time he can revisit via his journal. He of course goes back to try and change the past for the better, but instead makes things worse - again, and again.

The Door
Not to be confused with a bunch of other movies with the same title, this is a German film in the same league as Primer - squeamish yet thrilling to watch. After the death of his daughter, a successful artist's life goes down the toilet, but after finding a mysterious time portal he gets a stab at a do-over. Soooo unique, deliciously eerie and twisted.

Hot Tub Time Machine
A bunch of dudes (why is it always men going back in time?) get in a hot tub, get drunk and wind up back in the 80s. Good times and hilarity ensues, with some feelgood, life improving stuff thrown in. Enjoyable popcorn viewing.

What's your favourite time travel movie?

photo credit: Phantom Leap via photopin cc

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