Her came out this week, and it’s awesome. August: Osage County, also new in theaters, is worth a peek. But that’s probably it for a while. January is the beginning of the long winter movie wasteland, littered with films that were not deemed good competition for holiday movies, not likely award winners – just not that great. The kind of thing you hang on to until it’s bleak and dreary and people have lost the will to live so, why not watch Ride Along?
I, Frankenstein? I vomit.
Seriously, you know it’s bad when you’re holding out for the Hercules movie starring The Rock.
It’s too bad we don’t have a time machine to just jump past the dismal winter movie months. But we don’t. What we do have – which is almost as good – are time machine movies. Here are our 8 favorites. Why eight? January’s a long month and five might not be enough. Use them to fill the void of good flicks at the theater.
8. Twelve Monkeys
Madman Terry Gilliam creates a fascinating shell-world of the future, in which penal colony worker Bruce Willis agrees to travel back to the Nineties to sleuth out the cause of the apocalypse. The SciFi business is intricate and delicate and works surprisingly well, but it’s Gilliam’s particular genius for ruminating on the nature of insanity that keeps this one fascinating. That, along with fun performances from Willis and Oscar nominated (thought, let’s be honest, maybe he didn’t deserve that one) Brad Pitt.
7. Time Bandits
What? More Terry Gilliam? Yes, this guy has a real jones for time travel and, in this case, dwarfs. In 1981 Gilliam was still working with his Monty Python cohorts, ensuring that this bit of lunacy (for wherever Gilliam creates, lunacy follows) takes on a far more comical air than 12 Monkeys. Imaginative and hilarious, it’s no Brazil, but that film couldn’t have existed without this one.
6. The Terminator
Computers become self aware. They build super sized, thickly accented, human-ish cyborgs (the role Schwarzenegger was born to play) to infiltrate the few remaining warriors and end the human race. But one scrappy lad sends his dad back to knock up his mom, ensuring the future of the species. Which begs the question: is the survival of the human race reason enough to entertain the idea of your parents doing it?
5. Planet of the Apes
The film’s 45 years old at this point. We hope we’re not giving up any spoilers by including it on the time travel countdown. But it’s a fascinating thought – maybe it’s not the machines that will enslave us. Maybe it’ll be those damn, dirty apes! Oh Charlton Heston, with your granite jaw and loin cloth, how you suffer when you find out!
This one is nutty, and absolutely required viewing for anyone who enjoys time space continuum conundrums. So much can go wrong when you travel just one hour back in time. An always clever experiment in science fiction and irony, Timecrimes is a spare, unique and wild ride.
3. Back to the Future
The most beloved of all time travel films, Back to the Future has charm to spare. Inventive and endearing, and yet Marty McFly almost makes out with his own mom. Ewww. (We love you, George McFly!)
Made for $7000, this film is, in itself, an act of science fiction. Writer/director Shane Carruth (who would go on to make the best sic fi film of 2013, Upstream Color,) finds all new ways to consider what havoc a time machine could wreak. It would be the most streamlined, absorbing and ingenious film of its kind if there were other films of its kind.
An ingenious look at personal destiny wrapped inside a mind bending time travel thriller, the film watches Joe (Joseph Gordon Levitt) try to kill the older version of himself (Bruce Willis) whose been sent back to him from the future for a mob hit. Breathlessly entertaining, wildly clever and incredibly well crafted, it’s among the very best SciFi film of a generation.