The time travel movie requires some suspension of belief on the viewer’s part. Otherwise, no matter how clearly the rules are explained, you’re going to be sat there picking holes in them. For example, if the Delorian really did emerge in the exact same place 30 years prior it would be floating in space thanks to the Earth’s rotation around the sun! To quote Basil from the second Austin Power’s movie “I suggest you don’t worry about this sort of thing and just enjoy yourself.”
So with this list, we are taking a look at five of the highest-rated sci-fi time travel movies on IMDb that you should definitely see, and five of the lowest scoring you should see for all the wrong reasons. As the subject of “time travel” is so broad, it is impossible to know the top five and the lowest five without being some kind of all-knowing Time Lord or Cyberdine System’s Cybernetic Organism and “Sci-fi” also doesn’t cover some of the more brilliant fantasy movies, like Groundhog Day, so don’t feel too downtrodden if you don’t spot your favorite.
10 Best: X-Men: Days Of Future Past (8)
Taking inspiration from the 1981 comic book of the same name, X-Men: Days Of Future Past set about joining the original movie X-Men timeline with that of the First Class crew.
An enjoyable romp celebrating all things Mutant, in the bleak future world of 2023 Wolverine’s consciousness is sent back to the ’70s to save the planet by trying to end the Sentinels before they become invincible killing machines.
9 Worst: Timecop 2: The Berlin Decision (4.8)
Poor old Jason Scott Lee. At one point in the ’90s, it looked like he was going to be the next big thing starring as Bruce Lee in the biopic Dragon and Mowgli in a big-budget version of The Jungle Book. Then in 1998, he appeared alongside Kurt Russell in Soldier (the Blade Runner follow up nobody talks about) and things were never really the same. This is a shame because, as an actor, he is charismatic and enjoyable to watch.
One thing that isn’t enjoyable to watch is the 1994 Jean Claude Van Damme comic book flick Timecop, which was somehow successful enough to spawn a TV series spin-off and this sequel nearly 10 years later, in which JSL had to step in for JCVD. If you look at Van Damme’s CV from 2003, you’ll see that a film he refused to star in during that period is not something that should be taken lightly.
8 Best: 12 Monkeys (8)
Terry Gilliam is brilliant at making movies that make you say “WTF?” and Bruce Willis is great at playing characters that say “WTF?”, so this neo-noir sci-fi epic from 1995 is a worthy addition to this list. Gilliam is no stranger to the time travel film, having helmed cult classic Time Bandits in 1981.
This time, however, he takes a more serious and cerebral approach in this movie that is perhaps best enjoyed when seen twice, so you can wrap your head around the genius scope.
7 Worst: Time Runner (4.3)
Nowadays Mark Hamill is quite rightfully hailed as the awesome prince of pop-culture that everybody loves. But back in 1993, way before the rise of the Arkham games and prequel Star Wars trilogy, he was better known as the voice of The Joker.
Time Runner (originally titled ‘In Exile’ before someone realized that all bad sci-fi movies need to have either “Future” or “Time” in the title) was made during this dark era. To save his future, Hamill needs to go back to the past. If you haven’t got time to watch the entire movie just give the trailer a view, as it runs through every plot point and twist of the entire movie.
6 Best: Terminator 2: Judgement Day (8.5)
Arnold’s killer robot from the future returns, this time to save the day in one of the greatest action-adventure films ever made. If you’re a fan of sci-fi and explosions and you haven’t seen T2, then you need to adjust your viewing habits as you’re clearly not a real fan of sci-fi and explosions.
It is hard to believe that it has taken over 27 years for a third Terminator film to be made, as no sequels have taken place during that time. According to the franchise’s latest sequel-erasing reboot Terminator: Dark Fate, at least.
5 Worst: Journey To The Center Of Time (3.8)
Not to be confused with the Jules Verne classic Journey To The Center Of The Earth (although that was clearly the intention) Journey To The Center Of Time is largely set in a red room with a view screen displaying hours upon hours of stock footage. Sorry, we mean a time portal that displays the past and future.
It is a remake of the movie Time Travellers from three years prior, another bad movie, but at least one entertaining enough to be used on Mystery Science Theatre 3000.
4 Best: Back To The Future (8.5)
What is there to say about Back To The Future that already hasn’t been said?
A mad professor sends a teenager back 30 years into the past, he almost commits incest with his mother, and a would-be sex offender ends up being coated in manure. An American classic.
3 Worst: Future Zone (3.8)
In this sequel to the anything-but-smash-hit film Future Force, David Carradine’s cyborg-armed John Tucker returns, this time he teams up with his son from 30 years in the future. Unlike Back to the Future, there’s no incest storyline but there is plenty of manure.
Ted Prior plays the son, Billy Tucker, a role that he surely landed with his talent and good looks and not because his brother, David Prior, directed it.
2 Best: Interstellar (8.6)
In the near feature where everything isn’t “alright, alright, alright”, a family farm man, played by Matthew McConaughey, has to journey through space and time to save humanity.
A modern sci-fi classic best enjoyed on the big screen, Interstellar has the same head messing vibes as Nolan’s previous sci-fi hit Inception, and a mind-blowing finale reminiscent of 2001: A Space Odyssey, all the while being its own brilliant thing.
1 Worst: Time Under Fire (3.7)
A submarine gets sucked into a time tunnel underneath the Bermuda triangle and is sent to a dystopian North America. If that premise alone isn’t enough to sell you a ticket, then Jeff Fahey as lone-surviving, neck-breaking, torpedo firing, butt-kicking Commander Alan Deakins (alongside his rebellion-leading son, John Deakins, also played by Fahey) should!
Time Under Fire is a film critics call “a classic train-wreck.” But it bears mentioning that Bryan Cranston makes an appearance as the villainous Craddock.