I was going to write about the whole Girlfriend Mode thing, but the more I thought about it, the less happy I was with whatever I had to add to the conversation. So here’s a conversation to which I can definitely add something useful to you guys.
Over the course of researching for SO YOU CREATED A WORMHOLE, I watched and read tons of time travel fiction beyond the stuff that I’d known and loved already. Rather than yammer any further, here are five off-the-beaten-path movies that take clever stabs at the time travel idea, and will occasionally blow gray matter out your brainholes.
Virgil is a cryogenics researcher who has fallen for a girl who is half his age (and whom it would be illegal for him to bone). So in order to find a way to be with the girl without being completely and totally creeptastic, Virgil decides to utilize cyrogenics to freeze himself for 15 years — when the girl will be the same age as him and everything will be on the level in terms of him being into her.
Trouble is, Virgil’s attempts at freezing himself don’t really turn out as planned and he awakens early. He also runs into trouble with the guy he hired to keep an eye on his love interest. Freezer Burn is an indie comedy that manages to be pretty funny, and it’s an interesting take on something of a time travel opportunity.
H.G. Wells’ The Time Machine starts with the writer presenting his time machine to a number of friends at a dinner party, and that’s the way Time After Time starts, as well. Except in this conception, hidden among Wells’ friends is none other than Jack the Ripper. After Wells makes the discovery that the Ripper has been hiding right under his nose, Jack flees into the future using Wells’ time machine. The doctor pursues through a trick of time travel luck, basically, and the pair wind up in 1970s San Francisco.
It’s a little on the goofy side because it hasn’t aged well, but Time After Time has its cast going for it — namely, young Malcolm McDowell as Wells and David Warner as the Ripper. There’s also Mary Steenburgen, who punches her time travel card a lot earlier than Back to the Future: Part 3.
The first of three horror-thriller-leaning titles, The Caller is about a woman who moves into an apartment and starts getting weird phone calls at night. It soon becomes apparent that the woman on the other end is in need of a friend, and is in a pretty rough situation with her live-in boyfriend. Mary, the main character, starts making friends with the woman on the other end of the phone, but things get worrisome in a hurry. She tries to cut ties with the caller, but it doesn’t prove easy.
Time travel elements are introduced before too long, as well as Stephen Moyer from “True Blood.” That may or may not be a selling point for you, but regardless, check this one out.
Known by its native Spanish title Cronoscrimenes, Timecrimes follows a man named Hugo who encounters a masked man wielding a pair of scissors. The man chases him through the woods, brandishing the weapon all the way, forcing Hugo into a strange facility hidden in the woods. Without blowing more of the story, things escalate in a hurry.
I hear they’re working on an English version of this one, so you should check out the original in all its Spanish, subtitled glory before that happens.
This one is one of the coolest movies I’ve seen in a long time. Triangle starts with a group of friends heading out on a sailboat for an afternoon trip. Suddenly, a storm blows in, and the boat is swept over. The survivors find themselves floating on the overturned boat until a cruise ship passes, and they manage to get aboard. But the ship is abandoned — perhaps — and the survivors find a lot of weirdness there.
Again, I really really don’t want to spoil things, and the very fact that I’ve tipped you off that there’s time travel involved in this story means I’ve already told you more than I wish I had. Worth noting: this one falls more in horror than sci-fi.
If you’ve got time travel movie suggestions, throw them in the comments.
UPDATE: Because You Asked For It.
I left Primer off this list to begin with because I felt like most people who like time travel movies enough to seek them out have seen it. That may not be the case, however, so let’s run it down really fast.
Primer is one of the more scientific time travel movies I’ve ever seen made, and because it gets so much right, it also is pretty deeply confusing. That said, it has a lot of awesomeness going for it. The general premise: a couple of dudes create a machine that allows them to time travel back to when the machine was first turned on. We talk about the theoretical science behind the machine in So You Created a Wormhole, but suffice to say — it’s complex. In practical terms, the effect is that these two guys can go through a day, grab (for example) the stock results, and then hop into the machine and go back to the beginning of the day and play the market with that information.
Eventually, they start trying to apply their time travel capabilities to other situations, and a number of chaotic elements are introduced that suggest a whole lot more that’s going on under the surface of the story than is obvious. You’ll want to watch this one a number of times. It’s also essential viewing.