The 10 Best Time Machines in Movies


This month sees the release of yet another time-travel based film, Source Code, which Jake Gyllenhaal has been peddling up and down the airwaves. Though we haven’t seen it yet, it looks like another one of those shifty, what-exactly-is-happening mind-explosion time travel movies, and it got us thinking about all the different creative ways authors and directors have found to create time travel in films. The possibilities for time travel vehicles seem endless (though some of these push the limits of credulity), but we’ve decided to highlight the most ingenious of the bunch. Click through to see our list of the ten best time machines in movies, and let us know which of your favorites we’ve missed!

1. The Time Sled ( The Time Machine )

H.G. Wells described the Time Sled in his 1895 novel The Time Machine as “a thing of brass, ebony, ivory, and translucent glimmering quartz,” but it wasn’t until the 1960 film version that we really got to see it. What a beauty! Santa would be jealous.

2. The Time-Turner ( Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban )

It’s time travelling bling for nerds who can’t fit all of their classes into their schedule. Sure, its abilities are rather limited, but J.K. Rowling gets points for simplicity of design and for putting a dream into the hearts of overachievers everywhere.

3. The Supreme Being’s map ( Time Bandits )

Navigating the fabric of space-time is simple. All you need is a map.

4. The Time Displacement Sphere ( Terminator )

It’s very stylish to arrive at the party inside your own electrical storm, but then the sparks fade and you’re crouched naked on the floor.

5. Time Machine Modulus (Napoleon Dynamite)

We know, we know, it doesn’t work. But it gets points from us for being super ghetto ’80s and hilarious.

6. The box ( Primer )

Unlike most movie time machines, this one doesn’t look like anything special, which makes it seem all the more compelling, because of the underlying suggestion that you yourself could accidentally cook this up in your basement. Also, this movie is crazy.

7. The hot tub ( Hot Tub Time Machine )

This makes the list just for the sheer lunacy of it.

8. A jet engine (Donnie Darko)

Okay, we admit it – we’re not sure exactly what happens in Donnie Darko. It’s confusing, and the director’s cut made it worse. But we do know that this is probably the strangest time travel we’ve seen in a film, and it all happens because of a jet engine. Or does it?

9. The phone booth ( Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure )

Sure, it’s cramped, but Bill and Ted are best friends. Also, what other mode of transport could they possibly have? The phone booth, both utterly ridiculous and accidentally elegant, fits them perfectly.

10. A DeLorean DMC-12, complete with flux capacitor, of course ( Back to the Future )

But of course, the most beloved time machine in all of film history. After all, “if you’re gonna build a time machine into a car, why not do it with some style?”