The "Movies" List: Time Travel

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I subbed for Chris Herrington last week on The Chris Vernon Show. I had filled in for Herrington in the past when Vernon broadcasted on a different station, but never on his new show on 92.9 FM/680 AM.

How my appearance last week came about was weird. Tuesday night I had a dream that Herrington and I were composing dueling "Movies" lists. The topic: Time travel films. The dream's plot was us going through a video store doing research for time travel movies, while people were trying to kill us. The one movie I knew would make my list was The Final Countdown, and Back to the Future was my back-pocket movie in case I couldn't think of four more I'd rather include.

Weird dream. Wednesday morning I tweeted the plot out. Vernon replied that Herrington couldn't come on the show that afternoon and would I like to come on in his place and give my time travel list?

It can truly be said: Chris Vernon has made my dreams come true.

The "Movies" list: Time travel.
(Note: I declined to include Back to the Future, because c'mon. You've already seen it.)

5. The Final Countdown (1980)
My dream choice. The aircraft carrier the U.S.S. Nimitz goes through a weird vortex storm while at sea and travels back in time to 1941 the day before the bombing of Pearl Harbor. F-16s versus Japanese Zeros. Kirk Douglas and Martin Sheen. Should history be changed? Dated special effects. The word for The Final Countdown: awesome.

4. Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure (1989)
Two San Dimas hoods have to pass their history class so that one of them doesn’t fail and get sent to military school. Since they’re destined to change the world through their rock music, a man from the future is sent to help them meet historical figures like Joan of Arc, Genghis Khan, and Socrates (pronounced So-CRATES). In high school, we convinced our AP History teacher, Mrs. Carter, to let us watch it in class. Her film review: “Y'all, this is about dumb.” Keanu Reeves, Alex Winter, George Carlin

3. Time Bandits (1981)
A terrifying movie if you're six years old and your parents take you to see it, as was the case when I first encountered it. In the movie (the first of two on this list directed by Terry Gilliam), a little kid is taken by a band of dwarves through time on a super trippy adventure. Napoleon, gladiators, knights, plus God and the devil. I haven’t seen it since I was a teen, but I suspect if I were to re-watch it I'd have it higher on my list. The desert/glass/castle sequence looms large in my childhood consciousness. Shelly Duvall, Sean Connery, John Cleese

2. The Terminator (1984)
James Cameron’s tense action movie about a cyborg sent from the future (2029) to kill the mother of the guy who will defeat the machines in the world war in the future. The humans send their own warrior to protect the mother, and, awesomely, the good guy human ends up fathering the child who will one day send the father back to the protect the mother. Could’ve picked T2, but it’s great more for the action than the mind-bending time travel. Arnold Schwarzenegger, Linda Hamilton, Michael Biehn, Lance Henriksen (!)

(They could've all been 1980s movies (a golden age for time travel film), but my number one is too good to not include.)

1. 12 Monkeys (1995)
In 1996, a mysterious virus wipes nearly all of the human population out. In the future (2035), a convict is sent to the past to try to figure out what happened, not to stop it but to figure out how the humans of the future can reclaim the planet. It appears that the culprit is an environmentalist group called the Army of the Twelve Monkeys. The film has mystery elements, the future is trippy, and there’s a strange doubling of time as what the convict remembers from his childhood may be something he causes to happen as an adult. Based on a French short film from the 1960s called La Jetée, which Herrington would almost certainly would have had on his list if he were the one making it. Bruce Willis, Madeleine Stowe, Brad Pitt. The other great Terry Gilliam time travel movie (Time Bandits).

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