Let’s be honest here: I haven’t met a single individual yet who either wouldn’t want to travel back in time to correct a few wrongs, or to have a glimpse of what their future holds for them. That coupled with the inevitability of it all, the very real nature of time being irreversible and its independent physical construct is what I think allures the human mind to the concept of time travel so much, because what greater pursuit than one that is with the current means, unattainable? However, that didn’t stop a few dreamers from dreaming of it. Literature and films have been telling stories involving time travel since as far as I can imagine, and due to the very reasons specified above, the audience just can’t seem to have enough, so much so that time travel movies can clearly be identified into a sub-genre of their own.
But sadly enough, Netflix’s library has currently omitted a number of time travel classics and fairly obviously definitive films from their library, including the ‘Back to the Future Movies’ and ‘Groundhog Day’ that popularised the sub-genre in the first place, and current modern classics like ‘Looper’ and ‘Predestination’ among others, and that is with respect to the current streaming scenario fast changing. However, we did a little digging and found some of the finest movies involving time travel and resultant time loops as a relevant plot point for you to watch. So, here’s the list of really good time travel movies on Netflix that are available to stream right now.
8. A Wrinkle in Time (2018)
‘A Wrinkle in Time’ is based on the classic 1962 astral traveling novel, but fails to recreate the magic that the novel encapsulates. Yes, the film does have its heart in the right place in certain short segments, but that’s about it. The visuals are dazzling, but over-imaginative to the point of exhaustion, implying that the ‘Disney’ imagination is afloat and well, albeit misplaced. ‘A Wrinkle in Time’ had the potential to be one of the better films of 2018, and not going to lie, some of the promos did have me believe something remotely similar. However, major deviations from the source material and less than interesting pit stops in the refined script hurt any chances the film had. ‘A Wrinkle in Time’ remains one of the worst performing and reviewed movies for Disney, ever.
7. The Man From the Future (2011)
Starring ‘Narcos’ star Wagner Moura as the character in the title, ‘The Man from the Future’ is hailed to be one of Brazilian cinema’s finest. The film is about a brilliant scientist who faced humiliation years ago after losing the love of his life, when one of his inventions causes him to travel back to that time and he is faced with the inevitable choice of trying to change the course of his life in the current timeline. With some quirky funny bits here and there and a truly memorable score underlining the film, ‘The Man from the Future’ stands out from its contemporaries by virtue of great character development by involving more personal stakes rather than save the world kind of tropes, which is a victory for the film in my opinion.
6. ARQ (2016)
I honestly didn’t expect ARQ to blow me away the way it did. The film is about an engineer who is able to develop a perpetual motion machine that in turn leads to him experiencing a home invasion scenario again and again, stuck in a time loop. At less than 90 minutes, ‘ARQ’ is taut, relentless and doesn’t let your attention waver for a second. It is not a perfect film by any means. In fact, it has quite a number of flaws and discontinuities that stringent viewers might not be able to wrap their heads around. However, if you know what you are getting into: a small film with a few characters, virtually no location to boast of except a room inside a home, and a timeline spanning only a few hours, but telling an interesting and entertaining story, you may come off completely surprised, like I did.
5. The Butterfly Effect (2004)
Surely as individuals you may have dabbled with concepts that you may not always have been able to lead to satisfactory fruition, yet the intelligibility of it all keeps the idea alive. ‘The Butterfly Effect’ is the result of one of such ideas. The titular theory at the centre of the film dictating that any event at any point of time in the present is bound to have magnified impacts in the future, is superbly interesting to begin with, and a movie trifling with showcasing the idea on film is bound to be too.
Agreeably so, ‘The Butterfly Effect’ is flawed at certain points and the performances may not be at par, but the exploration of the very theory keeps it adrift, as we see Evan Treborn cycle between his past and present, trying to change the course of his life by altering specific events in his past, only to largely upset the order of things in the present perceived order of things, only to go on and make an important philosophical point about free will and the inevitability of it all. Certainly worth a shot if high concept movies are your thing.
4. The Endless (2017)
I recently came away from a showing of this film on Netflix, and boy do I have so many questions. Melding horror, plain weird stuff and sci-fi into a nerve-wrackingly fascinating watch, ‘The Endless’ is the story of two brothers who return to a UFO death cult that they had escaped years ago for answers, but instead now must race against time to free themselves of the strange happenings at the camp of the cult. ‘Strange’ may be a relative term here, but let me give you an idea: the cultists are stuck in a time loop wherein they experience their own gruesome deaths day after day, as an act of sacrifice to an “entity”. If that wasn’t enough, there is also a tug of war with the sky and three moons that rise in the sky. Trust me when I say that you absolutely cannot miss this indie flick.
3. Mirage (2018)
I don’t think a better title for the film would have sufficed, even if it’s translated. The film deals with a similar idea that is undertaken by ‘The Butterfly Effect’ and ‘Mr. Nobody’, of small happenings in time snowballing into completely different parallel realities. ‘Mirage’ is the story of one such woman who wakes up one day with her life and reality completely altered and her daughter, not existing in the current sequence of events. This strange happening seems to be connected to another eerie set of events from 25 years ago, linked to the house she recently moved in. I won’t spoil much for you, but hear me when I say that ‘Mirage’ may just be among the year’s best thrillers and sci-fi films. To add to the already twisted narrative, how the woman finds her way out of the time continuum is truly mind bending stuff. Watch for yourself!
2. Mr. Nobody(2009)
Another high concept film, but one that does justice to its premise. ‘Mr. Nobody’ was for me, an elaborate puzzle, one where I happily gave in and allowed myself to be lost. The film deals with an idea similar to the previous entrants, involving making crucial decisions at certain points, and all of these decidedly leading to different outcomes, each spread out through alternating realities. Yet still, what makes this film stand out is the refinement of that concept that is on display here, with carefully etched out characters and an unmistakable polished feel to the film — if you know what I mean — that places it just a notch above its competitors. To watch this brilliant film with a closed mind is simply an extended exercise in futility.
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1. The Terminator (1984)
One of the most successful action movie franchises of all time was kickstarted back in 1984 by James Cameron. The apex of “man vs machine” action films, the Terminator series is mostly fun fare to watch, but none of the sequels have been able to restore the former glory of the franchise and its popularity to when Cameron had the reins. The first film in the series follows Schwarzenegger playing the titular character: a cyborg assassin sent back in time to kill Sarah Connor, whose son John Connor leads the human resistance in the omniscient man vs. machines war in the future. The definitive blockbuster of the 80s decade and the single most defining film for sci-fi and action during that decade, and even decades hence.
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