Time travel is a fascinating concept, one which has inspired movie-goers countless times. As a time travel movie progresses, and inspires sequels or trilogies, the franchise must maintain an intricate plot that is digestible by viewers. One of the things that makes the Terminator franchise so likable is these plot details, and the way they’re delivered to the audience in a wholly digestible way. Over the years, you may have forgotten key elements, but they’re there and they’ll continue to factor into any and all media based off the franchise. Thankfully, Direct TV has provided a Terminator: Genisys timeline so that every moment and detail can be accounted for and explained.
It’s not an easy thing to maintain, and some movies have failed miserably in delivering plots that can be followed. Other films, such as the Terminator franchise, have consistently delivered time travel plots that makes sense. In homage to the latest Terminator film, Terminator Genesis, this list ranks some of the best and worst time travel films of all time.
Best: Back to the Future
Robert Zemeckis’ 1985 classic follows Marty McFly as he accidentally journeys back in time. It inspired two popular sequels, and each movie had a fascinating plot. Time travel films are best when there aren’t any loose ends. Movie Mezzanine reminds us that Back to the Future’s popularity is a direct result of a “tight script.” “No scene is wasted, and every line of dialogue feels like it serves a narrative function… It’s the rare film that’s crafted in a way that exemplifies its primary theme, the very structures of storytelling cementing the examination of cause-and-effect that will drive the story forward.”
Worst: Timecop 2: The Berlin Decision
Timecop was a good movie, so why’d the film’s producers decide to mar its reputation with a straight-to-DVD sequel starring none of the original cast? A rogue Time Enforcement Commission agent decides to head back in time to kill Adolf Hitler. This ends well for no one, least of all the viewer.
Best: Peggy Sue Got Married
Time travel was popular in the eighties, and as such, some of our favorite time travel films are classics like Peggy Sue Got Married. If you haven’t seen this incredible feat in story-telling, hit a rental store and snuggle in for a movie that got Kathleen Turner nominated for an Oscar. Directed by legendary Francis Ford Coppola, Peggy Sue is transported back to her senior year in high school. It begs the question, “Peggy, if you had to do it all over again, would you?”
Worst: The Butterfly Effect 2
As if The Butterfly Effect wasn’t bad enough (it was okay at best), there was a sequel that literally copied all the worst things about the first movie. According to chaos theory, a butterfly effect is the world’s “sensitive dependence” on conditions, and one small change in the system can result in cataclysmic events. Few are sensitive to this movies charms, and perhaps that’s why the effect has been to avoid it at all costs.
Best: Donnie Darko
Donnie Darko made everyone a fan of Jake Gyllenhaal’s sensitive, darkly brooding character. Somehow, Darko is sucked into a tangent universe and into a book written by Grandma Death (“The Philosophy of Time Travel” by Roberta Sparrow). The rift spurns disastrous events, but no spoilers here; you’ll have to watch it to see how it all plays out.
Worst: Black Knight
For every great time travel film, there’s one everyone wishes could be erased from the annals of history. 2001’s Black Knight has a lousy 14 percent approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes. According to the Critics Consensus, “Black Knight feels like a lazily constructed movie, filled with lame gags and constant mugging from Lawrence.”