Entertainment

Scrapbook: The Best of Time Travel On-Screen

Impact's Entertainment contributors suggest the films and television shows that best portray time travel.

If you were asked to pick five things you could do if the boundaries of time and space were broken down, what would you choose? My guess is that time travel would feature on the majority of most people’s lists.

Despite growing advancements within the filming industry, one of the most powerful tools within the human psyche is our ability to imagine, a tool in which cannot be quashed or pushed to the side by growing technologies. Humanity’s capability to think beyond the human realm has consistently made science fiction a fascinating genre to delve into, given its practically limitless range of content ideas. Perhaps one of the most recurrent themes within science fiction, whether that’s in film or on television, is time-travel. Our intrigue surrounding how time-travel could work and what could happen if it did has been transformed onto the screen on countless occasions, and in many cases, to critical acclaim. 

The latest Impact print issue has just been released and can be found all over campus. As ‘Time’ has been a recently featured print topic, we here in Entertainment have decided to put together a scrapbook about our favourite time travel related entertainment pieces.

Back to the Future

I’m not sure how one can possibly talk about time travel films without mentioning Back to the Future. Sure, it’s now a tad dated and more than a bit wacky, but it’s still an 80s classic and a film held dear to multiple generations.

I’m sure many of us saw this film during our childhoods, either at the insistence of parents, siblings, or friends – it’s just one of those movies you have to see at some point. One of the true parents of the time-travel genre, taking a magnificent look at the consequences of ‘altering time’, it’s simply a must-see for any time travel genre fan.

“It’s just one of those movies you have to see at some point”

Yet, it’s not just the innovative pseudo-science of time travel which makes this film so brilliant (the logic of which you can debate about another time), but the brilliant dialogue, hilarious one-liners, and absolutely fantastic action scenes which are so beautifully filmed that they remain some of my favourite shot compositions to date. 

But the real reason I love this movie and thoroughly recommend it is because of all the little subtle plot devices dotted throughout. Practically everything has some form of story significance – but they’re so subtle and brilliantly included that you may not even recognise them until the second, or third time re-watching it.

Ultimately, if doing a movie marathon of the best time-travel films and series, Back to The Future is not one to miss, nor it’s sequels, so why not grab a few friends, and binge watch them all!

Georgia Butcher

Looper

Let’s firstly take a minute to appreciate Rian Johnson for successfully coaxing a performance out of Bruce Willis for arguably the first time in over a decade. And then let’s applaud him for writing and directing a fantastically fast-paced sci-fi thriller by the name of Looper. And then, let us try and erase the painful memory of The Last Jedi from our minds.

Oh, the horror…

Anyway, back to Looper. The film follows two timelines, set thirty years apart. In 2074, when the mob wants to get rid of someone, they send them back to 2044 to be eliminated by specialised assassins known as Loopers. Both Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Bruce Willis star as Joe, one such Looper, at either end of this thirty year gap. As both timelines converge, well, things get messy.

“Johnson’s script delivers a plot full of intrigue and suspense, providing a uniquely dark take on time-travel”

Now, why does Looper deserve a place on this list? 

Number one. The film boasts a stellar cast. Joseph Gordon-Levitt. Bruce Willis. Emily Blunt. Paul Dano. Not to mention Jeff Daniels as a charismatic mob boss. Plus, all jokes aside, Willis delivers arguably his best performance in recent memory.

Number two. Johnson’s script delivers a plot full of intrigue and suspense, providing a uniquely dark take on time-travel.

Number three. Aside from being an entertaining flick, the film is currently on Netflix and I’d recommend checking it out. As soon as you’ve finished reading this article, of course.

Ibrahim Lakhanpal

Doctor Who

Time has always been more of an emotional concept in Doctor Who. One of the show’s most iconic speeches called history a “big ball of wibbly wobbly, timey wimey stuff”. Doctor Who throws logic out of the window in favour of using time travel to explore fascinating moral dilemmas (could you kill a baby Hitler?) and the emotional toll it takes on the characters. The priority has never been does this make sense? Or does this fit into continuity? It’s always what serves the characters. What if you always met the love of your life in the wrong order, and they had no idea who you were? What if you had to wait 2,000 years to see the person you love again? Or watch them grow old and bitter without you?  

Doctor Who has always been a show of limitless ideas and questionable sense…the important part is that you believe and retain that childlike sense of wonder”

Sometimes the same actions don’t even have the same consequences (in one series changing the past spawns unstoppable time parasites, in another it causes time to freeze and all of history to happen at once), but that doesn’t matter, Doctor Who has always been a show of limitless ideas and questionable sense. Just like with the rubber-masked monsters, the important part is that you believe and retain that childlike sense of wonder. 

Admittedly, old showrunner Steven Moffatt’s love for Bootstrap Paradoxes (Google it) turned the show into a brain-numbing knot of paradoxes. But with the latest Doctor (Jodie Whittaker), the show has returned to the simple, emotional consequences of time travel – preserving history at all costs, even if it means standing by and watching tragedy or injustice unfold, because it must, for the sake of history.

Doctor Who throws logic out of the window in favour of using time travel to explore fascinating moral dilemmas”

Recently the show has delighted in taking us through a Who’s Who (pun fully intended) of history – from Charles Dickens to Queen Nefertiti to Winston Churchill to Richard Nixon – with each new figure more exaggerated than the last (Nefertiti ended up eloping with a big game hunter from the 1900s). Now we have the likes of Rosa Parks, and the citizens affected by the Partition of India.

Everything in the new Doctor Who is back to basics, more focused, and more human. Even the time travel.

Jack Richardson

Georgia Butcher, Ibrahim Lakhanpal and Jack Richardson

Featured Image courtesy of Nick Webb via Flickr.

Image use licence here.

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