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20 Time-Travel Movies We Love So Much, They Make Us Hate The Laws Of Physics

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    Photo: Courtesy of New Line Cinema; Illustrated by Ly Ngo.

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    Confess our big crush, invest in Apple, kill Hitler, save Princess Diana — there are too many reasons to wish we could travel back and forth in time. It's pretty much a universal fantasy. At least, Hollywood makes it seem that way, if you inventory the number of time-travel movies released each year. The latest is Project Almanac, in which a teenage genius finds his missing father's plans for a time machine and builds it with his friends. They then proceed to do exactly what we'd all do if we had one of our own: play the lottery, get revenge on bullies, mess with people. And then, they discover that the ripple effects of changing the past are devastating.

    Of course, we all already know about those effects, and any other paradoxes that come from time travel. Back to the Future primed us on that lesson. Not that the idea of a brief visit to a well-costumed era or a chance to fix our own wrongdoings wouldn't still be tempting. Here, we've gathered Hollywood's best time-travel movies and try to assess whether that particular dimension of movement is worth the trouble.

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    A Connecticut Yankee In King Arthur's Court
    "Sir Bing of Crosby," as the classically cheesy trailer calls him, stars in this 1949 adaptation of the Mark Twain novel. A bump on the head sends the crooner (a mechanic) back to 528, where he wows with his magic and woos with his voice. If you're a sucker for classic Technicolor musicals, it's a fun romp.

    Is time travel worth it?: Yes, if you're an ordinary guy in modern times, you can make a huge impression on those suckers from the past.

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    The Time Machine
    Based on H.G. Wells' 1895 novel, this 1960 movie follows the fictional H. George Wells on his adventures to the year 802,701, when humans are livestock to another humanoid species called the Morlocks. The flick won an Oscar for its special effects, but watch it today for pure camp enjoyment. You have to love the fact that the women of the future look like 1960s sexpots.

    Is time travel worth it?: Sure, for the sake of adventure and inter-era love.

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    Time After Time
    Sometimes you want to escape into someone else's vision of the future, and sometimes it's just as fun to watch someone from the past freak out over modern times — especially when those modern times (1979) are by now way in the past too. Good old H.G. Wells is back, this time as a fictional character played by Malcolm McDowell. In Victorian England, his dinner party guest (David Warner) is about to be arrested for being Jack the Ripper when he steals Wells' time machine to escape to the future. Wells follows him to bring him to justice, and save modern women like Mary Steenburgen from his murderous friend.

    Is time travel worth it?: It comes in handy for fugitives!

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    Somewhere In Time
    Christopher Reeve is possibly better looking in early 20th century suits than in his Superman tights. In this 1980 romance (based on the 1975 novel Bid Time Return by Richard Matheson), he's a young playwright who falls in love with a photo of an actress (Jane Seymour) from 1912, and travels back through hypnosis to meet her. There's as much melodrama as improbability here, but it's captivating enough that there are still fans who meet regularly at the Grand Hotel on Mackinac Island, Michigan, where the movie takes place.

    Is time travel worth it?: Doesn't really seem like it, especially given how easily it can all be undone.

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    The Time Bandits
    This 1981 film is where the real fun of time travel begins to be unlocked, through the eyes of a child and in the hands of Monty Python alum Terry Gilliam. When a group of dwarves stumble into his bedroom, young history buff Kevin decides to join them on their adventures, slipping through wormholes to steal riches from history.

    Is time travel worth it?: In the long run, you run afoul of the forces of good and evil, but why not pop over for just a bit?