Predestination

Ready to melt your brain?

This dizzy, never-boring time travel odyssey is so complex that to explain all its twists and turns would take a lot more than the 100 words this blog allows me.

Like a lot, lot.

Suffice it to say that if you enjoy seeing Ethan Hawke command the screen (and who doesn’t?), firmly grab on to your couch and hold on for dear life as the convoluted plot plays out.

Based on a Robert A. Heinlein story, it bobs and weaves, backtracks and mystifies, and leaves you feeling both disorientated and giddy.

Exactly what the doctor ordered.

12 Monkeys

You don’t have to be crazy, but it helps.

Terry Gilliam has spent a career confounding expectations, making dazzling films which often focus on people being rightfully paranoid about everything happening around them.

Here, working from a template drawn by the classically surreal French short film La Jetée, he tells a tale of time travelers trippin’ across the decades, chasing a world-ravaging virus.

Nothing, and no one, are what they seem, from big ‘n brassy Brad Pitt as an insane philosopher to Bruce Willis going low-key as a man haunted by half-remembered dreams.

What’s real? Everything, and nothing.

 

Looper

The past is a killer.

Or is it the future?

Things get a bit hazy as time travelers bounce around, but having a precise knowledge of how everything fits isn’t necessary to enjoy Rian Johnson’s sci-fi mind-messer.

Joseph Gordon-Leavitt and Bruce Willis are the same dude, at different points in their bullet-riddled life, both scrambling to whack the other before they themselves are erased.

Toss in Emily Blunt as the woman at the center of an even-bigger mystery, and you have an impressive cast working hard to keep the human side of the story as important as the fantasy part.

Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home

Save the whales, save the universe.

The original U.S.S. Enterprise crew heads back in time in their most-enjoyable cinematic voyage, mixing sly humor with Vulcan nerve pinches.

The mission: retrieve a humpback whale from the past, so its song can placate a probe destroying everything in its path.

Leonard Nimoy pulled triple duty here, directing as well as being credited with the story, and portraying a revived Spock.

His deadpan response to “modern-day” residents of San Francisco is a particular highlight, and this adventure, more than any in the movie series, really captures the spirit of Gene Rodenberry’s vision.

 

La Jetée

Beauty and danger, frame by frame.

Put together almost entirely from still frames, with just a brief burst of motion at one point, Chris Marker’s short film inspired 12 Monkeys, and stands as a true landmark of sci-fi cinema.

As Paris struggles to recover from World War III, which drove survivors underground, scientists try to crack the time travel code, hoping to change their fate.

Our hero is a haunted man, his jagged memories of a violent, but largely-unremembered childhood incident key to his ability to slip through time.

What painful truths await? That would be telling.

Watch for yourself.