CATEGORIES FeaturesThe release of 'Hot Tub Time Machine,' the story of four men that enter a hot tub and come out on the wrong side of the 80s, has inevitably prompted every film site to update and publish their list of the __ Best Time Travel Films. Useful as that may be, we're more concerned with the vessels that get our protagonist from A to B (or -B, or -A, or A+1000 depending on the film).
Much like time travel itself (we imagine), the idea of hot tubs inevitably is more interesting and pleasurable than the practice itself. We've seen 'The Butterfly Effect' and all it takes is one emo-laden journal entry to alter history forever. It ain't worth it. But we were curious about how the hot tub stacks up against some of the other time travel machines of yore. A comparison: The release of 'Hot Tub Time Machine,' the story of four men that enter a hot tub and come out on the wrong side of the 80s, has inevitably prompted every film site to update and publish their list of the __ Best Time Travel Films. Useful as that may be, we're more concerned with the vessels that get our protagonist from A to B (or -B, or -A, or A+1000 depending on the film).
Much like time travel itself (we imagine), the idea of hot tubs inevitably is more interesting and pleasurable than the practice itself. We've seen 'The Butterfly Effect' and all it takes is one emo-laden journal entry to alter history forever. It ain't worth it. But we were curious about how the hot tub stacks up against some of the other time travel machines of yore. A comparison:
'The Time Machine' (1960)
Time Travel Vessel: The Time Machine
Vessel Creativity: 8
How: Forget the 2002 abortion that was Simon Wells' remake. George Pál's original movie based on H.G. Wells' classic novel still remains one of the cleverest films in the genre. Next to the DeLorean, the machine itself, a souped-up sled with levers and a rotating wheel in the rear, remains an iconic vehicle to journey through time.
'Time Bandits' (1981)
Time Travel Vessel: The Map of Space and Time
Vessel Creativity: 3
Eccentric/insane actor: John Cleese, Michael Palin
How: No time travel list is complete without Terry Gilliam's warped adventure about a boy who joins a marauding group of dwarves that travel through time to steal priceless treasures. Using The Map of Space and Time as their guide, we were hoping for something a little more creative than just a map but Gilliam makes up for that with his rotating, bizarre cast of characters.
'Back to the Future' (1985)
Time Travel Vessel: DeLorean DMC-12
Vessel Creativity: 9
Eccentric/insane actor: Crispin Glover
How: When Doc Brown finally gets his DeLorean time machine to work, thanks to the essential flux capacitator, two things happened: weird, creepy tinkerers around the country rejoiced with hope and the film would forever be inextricably linked to the 1980s (ask your child what a DeLorean is). We can't mess with Brown's logic tough: If you're gonna build a time machine into a car, why not do it with some style?
'My Science Project' (1985)
Time Travel Vessel: An UFO engine known as "The Gizmo"
Vessel Creativity: 6
Eccentric/insane actor: Dennis Hopper
How: A high school delinquent breaks into an abandoned military site to find a last-minute science project. After discovering a glowing orb which turns out to be the engine of an UFO craft, he discovers that it can control time and warp dimensions. Dennis Hopper, proving that at certain points in his career he'd star in anything, plays the science teacher with predictably absurd results.
Time Travel Vessel: Drugs
Vessel Creativity: 4
Eccentric/insane actor: Tim Thomerson
How: To protect the ruling council from annihilation, Tim Thomerson travels back from 2247 to 1985 via a drug that allows him to take over the body of one of his ancestors. I'm convinced this plot was conceived with a generous helping of acid, with the screenwriter, mid-trip, telling his entranced friends, "Dude, what if instead of drugs making me see marshmallows on my fingers, they let me hang out with my great-grandfather?"
'Masters of the Universe' (1987)
Time Travel Vessel: The "Cosmic Key"
Vessel Creativity: 3
Eccentric/insane actor: Dolph Lundgren
How: It would take us thousands of words to fully describe the convoluted enigma that is the plot to this movie. Suffice to say, the Cosmic Key sends He-Man and his arch-nemeis Skeletor to California, where it's mistaken for a synthesizer and....oh, hell, He-Man wins and says "I have the power!" at the end.
'Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure' (1989)
Time Travel Vessel: Phone Booth
Vessel Creativity: 7
Eccentric/insane actor: George Carlin
How: George Carlin travels 700 years in the past to ensure that two high school metalheads can form Wyld Stallyons, the band whose music will soundtrack a future utopia. Hijinks, as is often the case, ensue. It may not have held up as well as we thought now that we're older than 12, but we still can't discuss Socratic paradoxes (hey, it happens) without saying So-crates at least once under our breath.
'Black Knight' (2001)
Time Travel Vessel: A Theme Park Moat
Vessel Creativity: 5
Eccentric/insane actor: Martin Lawrence
How: Remember when Martin Lawrence made a string of increasingly ludicrous movies? This one's near the top of the list. While cleaning a moat at the Medieval World theme park, he somehow gets sucked into 14th-century England and tries to overthrow the king. Forgive the Schadenfreude, but we love when movies with obvious sequel-baiting endings-Lawrence ends up in a gladiator arena in ancient Rome-become "one and done" flicks.
Time Travel Vessel: Big Metal Box
Vessel Creativity: 2
How: Former mathematician Shane Carruth's intellectual debut eschews special effects for a more cerebral look at traveling through time, as two engineers repeatedly enter the past to make some fast money in the stock market. While the Big Metal Box is admittedly far from creative, it's essential to the point that it's everyday schlubs in their garage that contribute as much to science as top-ranked scientists. Damn reality.
Time Travel Vessel: Remote Control
Vessel Creativity: 6
Eccentric/insane actor: Christopher Walken
How: Adam Sandler gets an universal remote in the "Beyond" section of Bed, Bath and Beyond and discovers that it can move and manipulate time. Despite the critical drubbing and clichéd "It was all a dream but it wasn't" ending, it remains one of Sandler's highest-grossing films.
Time Travel Vessel: Goo Bath
Vessel Creativity: 4
How: This little-seen but compelling sci-fi murder mystery opens with a man that witnesses a possible murder, hides out in a research facility, travels through time and discovers that the assailant is himself. And that's just the first 15 minutes. I'm still not sure why director Nacho Vigalondo chose a coffin-like goo bath as the vessel of travel but trust us, that is the most comprehensible thing about this riveting mental mindf*ck.