Time travel has long been a fascinating concept for filmmakers, offering endless possibilities for adventure, drama, and philosophical exploration. From going back in time to change the past to hopping between different eras, the best time travel movies offer a glimpse into what could have been and what could still be.
These films captivate audiences with their mind-bending plots, complex characters, and thought-provoking themes.
Whether you're a fan of action, comedy, or drama, this guide to the best time travel movies will transport you to another time and place.
The best time travel movies ever made
1. Back to the FutureStream now (Prime Video)
Back to the Future is a time travel classic from 1985. Teenager Marty McFly travels back in time to the 1950s in a DeLorean car, which accidentally alters the timeline and puts his own existence at risk. With the help of his eccentric scientist friend, Dr Emmett Brown, Marty must find a way to get back to the future and restore the timeline. The film is a fun sci-fi adventure and a must-watch for all ages.
2. TerminatorStream now (Prime Video)
The Terminator is a classic 1984 science fiction film about a cyborg assassin, played by Arnold Schwarzenegger, sent from the future to kill Sarah Connor. She is the mother of a future leader in a decade-spanning war against the machines. A human soldier from the future is also sent back in time to protect her, leading to a race to save humanity. Directed by James Cameron, The Terminator is a seminal sci-fi movie that had a huge impact on pop culture.
3. Bill & Ted's Excellent AdventureStream now (via Studio Canal)
This 2020 action movie is about a man known only as the Protagonist, a spy at the centre of an international espionage mission. It’s filled with mind-bending twists, stunning action sequences and compelling performances from John David Washington and Robert Pattinson. Like many on this list, it’s another time travel movie that explores the nature of time and the unintended consequences of altering the past.
4. Donnie DarkoStream now (Prime Video)
Donnie Darko is a mind-bending time travel movie about a teenager, Donnie, visited by a mysterious figure in a giant (and not to mention creepy) rabbit costume who tells him that the world will end in 28 days. He tries to make sense of his visions and discovers he may have the power to manipulate time. This cult movie has elements of science fiction, horror, and drama, as well as a fantastic soundtrack.
5. Planet of the ApesStream now (Prime Video)
Planet of the Apes is a classic 1968 film. An astronaut crashes on a strange planet where apes rule and humans are enslaved. As he tries to navigate this dystopian society, he uncovers the shocking truth about the planet's past and its connection to Earth. With groundbreaking special effects and a powerful commentary on race and power, this movie is beloved by scientists because, in theory, its time travel holds up to scrutiny.
6. LooperSteam now (Netflix)
Looper is a 2012 sci-fi action movie set in a dystopian future where time travel has been invented but outlawed. The story is about Joe, a hitman who works for a criminal gang and "closes the loop", killing targets sent back in time. When his future self is sent back to be killed, Joe must deal with the consequences of his actions and find a way to change his fate. There are plenty of thrilling action sequences, a mind-bending time travel plot and fantastic performances from Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Bruce Willis.
7. The Time MachineStream now (Prime Video)
The oldest movie on our list, the Time Machine was released in 1960 and based on the novel of the same name by H. G. Wells. It follows a scientist who invents a time machine and travels to the future to find a world divided between the peaceful Eloi and the savage Morlocks. He must find a way to return to the present and prevent the events that led to this dystopian future.
8. InterstellarStream now (Prime Video)
This epic 2014 sci-fi movie follows a team of astronauts who travel through a wormhole in search of a new home for humanity, as Earth is faced with an impending environmental catastrophe. There are stunning visuals throughout and a profoundly emotional storyline about the mysteries of time and space.
9. ArrivalStream now (Netflix)
Arrival is a cerebral movie about a linguistics expert, played by Amy Adams, recruited by the military to communicate with alien beings who have suddenly arrived on Earth. As she learns and deciphers their language, she experiences a shift in her perception of time. This movie has a fantastic score, stunning visuals and an incredibly emotional storyline.
10. PrimerStream now (Freevee)
You might need a pen and paper to take notes while you watch this movie so you can keep up with the twists, turns and web of timelines, but if you love time travel movies, it’s one of the best ever made. Primer is about two engineers who accidentally create a time machine while working on a new invention. As they experiment with it, they soon find themselves in a dangerous web of lies, where the consequences of their actions have far-reaching and unexpected effects.
- The best sci-fi movies of all time, ranked.