Neutrinos and the 10 coolest time travel methods in cinematic history
Doctor Who/Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure The Method: The TARDIS, which looks like a Police Box/A phone booth from the future It's cool and all, but has The Doctor ever thought about how awful it would be if he parked the TARDIS in an alley and nipped into Rose's house for a spot of tea, and a horrible attempted murder occurred while he was pining for some girl that was gonna get lost in an alternate world anyway? Imagine you're being murdered, and you're like, "Oh man, I'm saved, a Police Box," and you go into it just to find a massive console and a sonic screwdriver you don't even know how to use? Dr. Who is gonna have to clean up hella blood from that floor, yo.
At least Bill and Ted's phone booth also works like a real phone booth. No wonder The Doctor is the last of the Time Lords and Bill and Ted are future saviors of the entire human race, although I'm pretty sure the dudes would love it if the phone booth were bigger on the inside than it appears on the outside. What I'm trying to say is, fuck The Doctor, Wyld Stallyns rule.
The Twilight Zone movie segment "Time Out" The Method: Racism. It's cool to think that out in the Universe there's some kind of conscious power that has the ability to send dudes through times in order to convince them not to be such fucking assholes.
Vic Morrow is a bigot and he drinks a lot and says racist shit. He walks out of the bar and finds himself in Nazi-occupied France. And even better, he's a Jew now. He runs around a lot, and then wakes up a black man being lynched by the KKK. He runs around a lot, and then wakes up a Vietnamese man in the middle of the Vietnam War. He ends up playing hot potato with a grenade, and when it blows in his face, you gotta assume he's dead or going home. But he wakes up in France again! And now he's on a train to a Concentration Camp! So fate isn't so much trying to rehabilitate him as much as show him he's a dick before he dies. That's probably the best bet -- more than likely Morrow would've gotten home and just deduced all that happened 'cause God is an angry black dude.
Hot Tub Time Machine The Method: Hot tub time machine. It's a motherfuckin' hot tub -- and not only does it send you back to the critical weekend of your life to fix everything, but it Quantum Leaps you so you look young and shit, too, and it's operated by Funniest-Man-Alive-turned-not-funny-at-all-turned-Funny-as-Fuck-again Chevy Chase. No other explanation necessary.
Slaughterhouse 5/The Time Traveler's Wife/Life on Mars The Method: A medical condition - PTSD/Genetic disorder causing time travel/Coma Imagine if traveling through time took no effort at all, if all you had to do was catch a cold. Okay, so maybe these problems are far worse than some sniffles, considering one is a byproduct of living through the Bombing of Dresden, the other is an awful sickness that keeps you separated from having a normal life with the woman you love, and the last is the consequence of a brutal human-car-collision.
But Billy Pilgrim gets to go to an alien planet, and the cop from Life on Mars gets to work as a cop in the 70s, when everyone wore super-cool jackets, and the genetic problem guy gets to . . . mack on his wife. . . as a child. Maybe that one still sucks. At the very least, it's super creepy. But the fact that these dudes don't even have to try is very cool.
Terminator/T2/Terminator 3: Salvation/The Sarah Connor Chronicles The Method: A glowing blue ball of electricity housing naked people with superior fitness attributes. The method wouldn't exactly be best for going back in time to stop yourself from ruining your senior prom, 'cause a naked middle-aged man appearing in the middle of the streamer-covered VFW might actually make it worse. However, if you're a killer cyborg or badass soldier sent back in time to protect the future leader of all humanity, it's pretty fitting and awesome. Of course, we could be wrong, considering we've never been able to see the future time-machine that sends people back -- it could be Hello Kitty-themed or something. I don't know what Skynet's into, man.
Not pictured: The viewer's brain exploding.
Primer The Method: An accidental invention housed in a box housed in a storage unit. Later they start putting boxes into boxes, and then none of it makes any more sense. The time machine in Primer is cool strictly because it's so uncool. It's an amazing, somewhat scary, and absurdly complex bit of low-budget awesomeness predicated on the notion that two garage science hobbyists could accidentally discover a way to go back in time (in real time, to go back six hours takes six hours) and slowly decide they just don't give a shit about causality anymore. One of the best time travel movies ever made, you need to watch this movie 2 or 3 times to just start to understand what's happening in about 20 percent of what you see.
Time Bandits The Method: A stolen map of all the holes in space/time. Not only it is cool as fuck that a bunch of dwarves possess a map they stole from God that they use to travel through time, but the fact that the dwarves use it to steal shit makes this method of travel way cooler than shark-jumping Fonz. It's less cool if you realize even the theft of the map was all God's plan to destroy evil and a side-consequence of it is an 11-year-old kid's parents exploding before his eyes, but we'll forget that part for now. Spoiler (for a 30 year old movie, commenters).
Evil Dead II/Army of Darkness The Method: A portal opened via the power of lost pages of the Necronomicon Ex Mortis. When all hope is lost and Deadites are posed to take over the world, there's Ashley J. Williams, the greatest hero in all of cinema, culture and myth. Ever. When the maje evil living in the woods outside his buddy's cabin is made flesh (a massive tree monster), Ash shoves his chainsaw hand into its eye without fail, holding it off until the lady with the brains (and the Kandarian dagger in her back) can open a portal to the Dark Ages, sending the demon back in time. It also grabs up Ash and his 1973 Oldsmobile Delta 88 (Raimi fans know it as "The Classic"). While anyone else would probably be frightened or disoriented, Ash hits the ground and immediately gets back to shotgunning possessed people in the face. Ash travels through time as a by-product of his own badassery.
What a shitty city.
Star Trek The Method: The Guardian of Forever Star Trek has had some really awesome methods for time travel, from Picard following the Borg through an Einstein-Rosen Bridge to Kirk slingshotting around the sun to save the whales to everyone falling through a Spock-made black hole and rebooting the series, but the Guardian of Forever from the classic episode City on the Edge of Forever is probably the coolest. It's a portal to wherever and whenever -- and it talks. And it does so in a super-pretentious way, dumbing itself down for humans' "limited understanding." However, explaining anything more about it generally leads to a lawsuit from Harlan Ellison.
Back to the Future The Method: Time-traevling DeLorean. Duh. Like Doc Brown says, "If you're gonna build a time machine into a car, why not do it with some style?" Perhaps the most iconic time-traveling machine since ever, this badass stainless-steel throwback with Lamborghini doors, flight capabilities and a baby seat just for the flux capacitor (which makes time travel possible) just has to hit 88 miles per hour before its nuclear reactor starts up, supplying the necessary 1.21 jigawatts to send you hurtling to the future to buy a pair of self-lacing Nikes with a trail of fire in the wake. If that isn't the coolest way of getting around in the time-stream, I don't know what is.
Honorable mention: The magic ancient Japanese lantern that whisks the Ninja Turtles into feudal Japan in Ninja Turtles 3; The Time Belt, from the filmmaking cult-internet-madmen at Channel 101; The Ghosts that whip Scrooge around in Christmas Carol; Harry Potter's Time-Turner that wouldn't made it super easy to stop Voldemort (ten minutes til the comments come in reminding us they were all destroyed but seriously that case housed ALL the time-turners?); and Superman making the world turn backwards with his sadness powers.
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