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The Best Time Travel Movies And How To Stream Or Rent Them Online

Michael J. Fox and Christopher Lloyd in Back to the Future

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One of the most beautiful things about the movies is how they can act as a vessel to relive a memory, almost like time traveling, that you can steam or rent with the push of a button. Speaking of which, many of the best time travel movies ever made are available on some of your favorite streaming or digital rental platforms.

Time travel has been a long running trend in Hollywood that has given birth to some of the most entertaining crowdpleasers (or mind numbing disasters, even) for decades. Whether you like your travels through the space time continuum excitingly adventurous, paradoxically horrifying, or hilarious and without much need for thought, you can find them all here per our recommendations.

Before we get to it, please note that we stuck to movies where at least one character actually travels through time. So as great as films like Frequency and Arrival are, and as much as we love a good time loop story (Edge of Tomorrow, Groundhog Day), we aimed for more traditional time travel stories for this one.

Whether you prefer to stream or rent a digital copy, we got you covered. These are just 11 of the best time travel movies ever made. Boy, this is heavy...

Michael J. Fox and Christopher Lloyd in Back to the Future

Back To The Future (1985)

No list of movies about time travel could ever or will ever be complete without the inclusion of this masterful, exciting pop culture juggernaut. From executive producer Steven Spielberg and director Robert Zemeckis, Back to the Future stars Michael J. Fox as '80s teen Marty McFly, who takes a DeLorean modified with time travel technology by his physicist friend Emmet "Doc" Brown (Christopher Lloyd) to 1955 where an encounter with his young parents threatens to erase his own existence. It is impossible to watch another time travel film today without involuntarily referencing this timeless adventure, which spawned two sequels and never fails to make you call out "Great Scott!"

Where To Rent Online: Amazon

Bruce Willis and Joseph Gordon-Levitt in Looper

Looper (2012)

Before he turned the whodunnit genre and the Star Wars franchise on their heads, Rian Johnson dazzled audiences with this futuristic instant classic that fuses time traveler adventure with film noir. Joe (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) is an assassin hired to take out and dispose targets sent from the future to his time, but he discovers that his career will soon be over when his next assignment turns out to his older self (Bruce Willis). Looper already has a clever enough concept to hook you in, but its phenomenal execution will have you pondering its brilliance long after it is over.

Where To Rent Online: Amazon

Arnold Schwarzenegger in The Terminator

The Terminator (1984)

Sometimes it is easy to forget that director James Cameron's breakout hit is a time travel film since that element is quickly forgotten once the bullets fly. Yet, throwing out its action/horror elements, the basic premise of The Terminator follows a soldier (Michale Biehn) sent back in time from a 21st century ruled by machines to protect the future mother of a resistance leader (Linda Hamilton) from an unstoppable human-looking cyborg (Arnold Schwarzenegger) sent back to kill terminate her in 1984 Los Angeles. The intense cat and mouse game of The Terminator later envelopes into one of the most mindblowing, paradoxical final reveals of any time travel film.

Stream It On Showtime: Showtime

Where To Rent Online: Amazon

Alex Winter and Keanu Reeves in Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure

Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure (1989)

As any time travel movie will show you, such an ability is far too delicate to indiscriminately put into the hands of just anyone. However, dim-witted California slackers Ted Theodore Logan (Keanu Reeves) and Bill S. Preston Esquire (Alex Winter) are given a time machine by futuristic traveler Rufus (George Carlin) to ensure they can put together an A-worthy history project to prevent them for separating after high school so their rock band can prosper and eventually inspire world peace. Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure is a joyful and truly excellent crossbreed of science fiction and comedy that makes me wish I could use a magic phone booth to jump to the future and see the upcoming sequel, Bill & Ted Face the Music, right now.

Where to Stream It: Starz (opens in new tab)

Where to Rent Online: Amazon

Jake Gyllenhall in Donnie Darko

Donnie Darko (2001)

Even the films of John Hughes do not hold a candle to the severity of high school in the 1980s like writer/director Richard Kelly's cult classic. Jake Gyllenhaal stars as the titular character, a troubled teen whose life and the lives of those around him starts to unravel when he begins to see visions of a man in creepy-ass rabbit suit professing an imminent armageddon. While time travel is a more comparatively minor element to the storyline that only receives its grand pay off at the resolution, Donnie Darko is too unique, complex, and beloved to be left off of any list even remotely associated with its various themes.

Where To Stream: IMDb TV or Tubi

Where To Rent Online: Amazon

Domnhall Gleason and Rachel McAdams in About Time

About Time (2013)

Just about every person has had an encounter with their crush (or even significant other) that they wish they could go back in time and change. When Tim (Domnhall Gleason) discovers that the ability to go back in time runs in his family, he decides to use it to finally improve his luck with the ladies, but not without making a few easily repairable mistakes. From Richard Curtis, the writer and director of Love Actually, About Time is a sweet, funny, romantic fantasy also starring Rachel McAdams, which, believe it or not, is not her first time playing the love interest of a time traveler, but more on that later.

Where To Stream: Netflix (opens in new tab)

Where To Rent Online: Amazon

David Sullivan and Shane Carruth in Primer

Primer (2004)

While the theme of time travel is most commonly associated the science-fiction genre, it tends to veer toward fantasy more often due to the lack of any genuinely thoughtful scientific explanation. I suppose software-engineer-turned-filmmaker Shane Carruth got fed up with that recurring trend and decided to make a time travel film that treats the laws of theoretical physics as a priority, even if its high concept subject matter was at risk of going in one ear and out of the other for more average sci-fi audiences. For that reason, the low-budget Primer, about an engineer whose invention of time travel proves to be more of a burden than a blessing, is still cited as one of the brainiest films on the subject of all time.

Where To Rent Online: Amazon

The cast of Hot Tube Time Machine

Hot Tub Time Machine (2010)

When Robert Zemeckis and Bob Gale first crafted the script for the aforementioned Back to the Future, the idea came from imagining what it would be like to meet your own parents in the prime of their youth. This crass, yet endearing, comedy from Accepted director Steve Pink embraces a similar concept but from the perspective of three aging pals (John Cusack, Rob Corddry, Craig Robinson), joined by the nephew of one (Clark Duke) who get to relive the prime of their youth thanks to the titular device, which they find at a popular ski resort. Hot Tub Time Machine is a blisteringly hilarious throwback to '80s time travel movies by literally being a time travel movie set in the '80s.

Where To Rent Online: Amazon

Eric Bana and Rachel McAdamas in The Time Traveler's Wife

The Time Traveler's Wife (2009)

I said before time travel is a privilege that should not be taken lightly, but what if you had no choice in how you used it? Such is the case for Henry (Eric Bana), whose ability to travel through time is involuntary, never knowing what time he will leap to next or when, which creates a strain in his marriage to Clare, played by Rachel McAdams in her second appearance on this list. The Time Traveler's Wife is a cleverly imaginative, aspiringly romantic, and heartbreaking drama that convinces you that time travel is not all it is cracked up to be.

Where To Rent Online: Amazon

Ashton Kutcher in The Butterfly Effect

The Butterfly Effect (2004)

With a few exceptions I have already mentioned, Hollywood tends to make time travel look pretty fun, but if there was ever a movie that would officially make you fear time travel altogether, it would probably be this one. In one of Ashton Kutcher's first lead roles in a drama, the That '70s Show star plays a man whose attempts to improve his and his friends' lives with his newfound ability to travel to the past results in increasingly horrific circumstances each time. Inspired by the chaos theory, The Butterfly Effect posits the idea that changing just one element of your past will affect everything about your future, so you better choose wisely.

Where To Stream: Starz (opens in new tab)

Where To Rent Online: Amazon

Chris Evans as Steve Rogers in Avengers: Endgame

Avengers: Endgame (2019)

Remember earlier when I said that no time travel movie can avoid comparisons to Back to the Future? Well, this epic comic book movie blockbuster is just about the most potent example of that as it is just as much a tribute to the pop culture influence of that film, with the Avengers using time travel to reverse the cataclysmic effects of Thanos' (Josh Brolin) Infinity Gauntlet snap, as it is a celebration of the 21 MCU films to come before it. Not to mention, Avengers: Endgame does stand out among other time travel films by positing a theory of the matter unlike most.

Where To Stream: Disney+ (opens in new tab)

Where To Rent Online: Amazon

So, did we cover all of your favorite time travel movies, or should we go back and try again? Let us know in the comments and be sure to check back for more streaming and renting recommendations here on CinemaBlend.

Jason Wiese
Jason Wiese

Jason has been writing since he was able to pick up a washable marker, with which he wrote his debut illustrated children's story, later transitioning to a short-lived comic book series and (very) amateur filmmaking before finally settling on pursuing a career in writing about movies in lieu of making them. Look for his name in just about any article related to Batman.