The 25 best time travel movies to make your head spin

If you can't do the time, don't do the, err... time

Picture the scene: you're at the end of a perfect evening, with your perfect date and you go and spoil it by saying something stupid like "What? You've never seen Die Hard?" Alright, well maybe that's just me. You might kick yourself. But in a movie you'd be legging it towards your time machine double quick. Boil 'em down and most time travel movies share one major thing in common: the "what-if?" factor. What if I'd not said that idiotic thing? What if I had invented post-its? What if I'd spent my teenage years learning to play chess better than anyone else in the world? Luckily cinema is far more imaginative than me, with movies ranging from a simple jaunt into Medieval times to more complex and paradoxical adventures. Here's 25 of the best. 

25. Flight of the Navigator (1986)

The movie: It's 1978 and 12-year-old David Freeman (Joey Cramer) is chilling at home when all of a sudden he's been kidnapped by aliens. Bummer, right? Not really. This gaggle of extraterrestrials have a sweet ride they let David captain and he gets to do it all blastin' his favourite tunes. They drop him home but as they were travelling faster-than-light Joey doesn't realise he's been away... it's now 1986. 

Unresolved paradox: David is allowed to return to 1978, presumably in time to take out shares in Microsoft

24. Army of Darkness: The Medieval Dead (1992)

The movie: The third Evil Dead flick finds doltish hero, Ash (Bruce Campbell) whisked away from the present-day by the Necronomicon only to arrive in Medieval England. Greeted by a load of stuffy Medieval folk and a horde of Deadites, it's naturally up to Ash to appease one group and slay the other. Gimme some sugar, baby! 

Unresolved paradox: Ash defeats the Army of the Dead using modern-day textbooks from the boot of his car. 

23. Time After Time (1979)

The movie: In 1893, H.G. Wells (Malcolm McDowell) realises his best friend (David Warner) is Jack The Ripper. Wells chases the Ripper to 1979 in his time machine. Present day London isn't quite the utopia Wells was expecting, but its great for a killer like Jack. 

Unresolved paradox: Wells takes love interest Amy (Mary Steenburgen) into a future where she has become a victim of the Ripper. 

22. Star Trek: First Contact (1996)

The movie: Things kick off in the 24th Century, where Picard (Patrick Stewart) and the Enterprise crew fight off a Borg attack, leading them to encounter pioneer Zefram Cochrane (James Cromwell) who made the historic first contact with aliens in 2063. Cochrane is a grumpily down-to-earth geezer who doesn't like the way the Enterprise fanboys fawn over him. 

Unresolved paradox: The Enterprise crew ends up helping Cochrane make his inaugural warp-drive flight. 

21. The Navigator: A Medieval Odyssey (1988)

The movie: This historical sci-fi flick hails from Vincent Ward, who almost turned Alien 3 into a batty wooden planet threequel. In the 14th Century, English villagers in an isolated mountainside are so terrified of the Black Plague they start paying attention to the visions of a medieval boy. In fact, they prove to be so compelling that the villagers tunnel into the earth and wind up in present-day New Zealand.  

Unresolved paradox: Does the earth tunnelling method work both ways? 

20. Predestination (2014)

The movie: This cracking sci-fi headscratcher flew under the radar at time of release, yet is deserving of a much wider fanbase. From Michael and Peter Spierig, the two directors behind the so-so vampire flick Daybreakers, comes this ambitious adaptation of Robert Heinlein's story All You Zombies. It stars Ethan Hawke as a temporal agent and Sarah Snook as... you know, I'm going to leave it there.  

Unresolved paradox: To be truly awed by the frankly batshit machinations that Predestination offers, it needs to be seen by audiences who have little to no idea of the plot.  

19. Back to The Future Part 3 (1990)

The movie: The trilogy-closer wraps things up nicely by heading farther back than Marty or Doc have ever gone before: 1885. In this film, specifically, the plot kicks off in 1955 with Marty McFly (Michael J. Fox) having a fair bit time-travelling under his belt, realises he's got to go back in time to the old west where Doc Brown (Christopher Lloyd) is stuck. Marty adopts the non de plume of Clint Eastwood to get by. Biff eats dung. It's great. 

Unresolved paradox: If Doc Brown got stuck in 1885, and left his DeLorean for Marty to travel back to rescue him, that means there must be two DeLoreans in the Wild West now. 

18. X-Men: Days of Future Past (2014)

The movie: It's 2023 and things are looking decidedly bleak for the X-Men, as Bolivar Trask's Sentinels threaten to wipe them all out. Luckily, Kitty Pryde's abilities include being able to project people into the past! She works her mojo on Wolverine who's whisked back in time to the '70s to stop the mutant-killing 'bots being made.  

Unresolved paradox: If the Sentinels were really created in the 1970s, err... how come no-one mentions them in X-Mens 1-3? 

17. Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure (1988)

The movie: In 1988 slackers and future world leaders Bill (Alex Winter) and Ted (Keanu Reeves) are about to flunk their history exam when the most excellent Rufus (George Carlin) saves their proverbial bacon. The pair are gifted a time-traveling phone booth in order to learn all about the past. Open the history book; pick a page. These guys need the help of Napoleon, Billy The Kid, Abe Lincoln and So-crates - and so they find them. Woah. 

Unresolved paradox: The film's central premise. Bill and Ted only rule the world through their music, because their older selves convince them to do so. 

16. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (2004)

The movie: Arguably the most sci-fiey Potter flick involves the use of a genius time-travelling device. It's just another fun-filled day at Hogwarts for Harry and Hermione, as the pair go back in time three hours previously. Interesting that considering all the other horrible incidents that happen - no spoilers here - nobody ever uses the time-turner again in the films. 

Unresolved paradox: Harry saves himself by throwing a Patronus charm, which he only knew he could do because he realises it was himself who threw it. 

If that's whetted your appetite for a little slice of history, why not check out our picks for the best Medieval movies of all time?