There is something alluring about time travel to make humans ponder over it for hundreds of years. Thankfully, since it has not been invented yet, directors can enjoy full freedom in coming up with newer sci-fi concepts for each film. But one common theme unites them all - everyone who wishes to travel to past wishes to undo something in the present. It is our belief in the chain system of actions that we think a single change of ideas or actions in the past could somehow make the present a wholly different space. How complex the effect of such a change is, is what could make or break a time-travel movie.
Having said that, not all time-travel movies need to have actual time travel or be moralise on the do-it-today-not-tomorrow ideal. Directors like Jun-sung Kim have created movies with cleverly disguised time travel that only occurs in the protagonist's mind. Here's a list of 5 different time travel-themed films from different genres.
Lucid Dream, 2017
Heavily inspired by Inception, but with a unique plotline of its own, Lucid Dream is a Korean sci-fi thriller that has a father, travel to the past in his mind to find his kidnapped son. Dae-ho is an investigative journalist and a single father to his son. With his controversial line of work and exposes, he has made more than enough enemies. When his son goes missing with no further communication from the kidnapper, Dae-ho knows its the act of someone who he has written about. However, with all the police force's help, the case has been off for 3 years with no further clues.
That is when with the help of a psychiatrist, Dae-ho decides to engage in a new form of visiting the past - lucid dreaming. He keeps revisiting the day until he can find enough clues to uncover the kidnapper. Filled with good graphics, violent scenes, fast-paced chase sequences and enough plot-twists to keep you on the edge of your seat, Lucid Dream is only a part time-travel movie. That is until Dae-ho meets someone who makes it possible to visit anyone's dreams. After three years, what are the chances that Dae-ho's son is still alive? Watch the movie to find out what happens in the end.
2009: Lost Memories, 2002
This is one of those time travel movies that dare to reimagine history. In the opening sequences, we are introduced to a vastly different world. Korea is still under Imperial Japanese control, World World II ended with Japan dropping an atomic bomb on Berlin and the assassination of an important Major general if prevented on time. As a joint film made by both South Korea and Japan, the movie told on a bold narrative and tackled the heavy themes of nationality and patriotism quite well. In the present day world of the film, a Korean terrorist (or resistance organisation, if you will) is planning to go back in time and reverse the narrative to prevent Korean from being under Japanese rule.
Masayuki Sakamoto and Shojiro Saigo are two officers assigned to investigating and thwarting the plans of this group. The group's immediate plans seem to be gaining their hands on an artefact. As the film rolls on, it becomes clear that this artefact has the power to transport one through time. The film would be understood best by those who have some knowledge of Korea and Japan's complex histories since many of the storylines (preventing certain assassinations or resistance movements) only make sense if you're aware of the large scale impact they had.
Il Mare, 2000
When it was released, Il Mare did not perform well at the box office at all. However, over the years it has gone on to be recognised as a pathbreaker in the time-travel romance genre. It was later remade several times by different countries. Il Mare is the name of a beautiful house by the sea inhabited by a lone woman. As she moves away, she leaves a mail in the mailbox for the next occupant, who however arrives two years in the past. Confused? Yes, it is a bit. Via some correspondence, the two quickly realise that the Il Mare mailbox is capable of sending letters through time and thus two people who live not just miles, but years apart, hold a conversation.
The film deals very well with this idea and uses the play on timelines to the fullest extent. Despite living the future and knowing what has happened in the past two years, the movie takes the two characters on runs that reminds us that nothing in life is fixed and all our decisions are only a moment away from change. This a subtle, melancholic love story set against a colour pallet of fields, sunsets and oceans.
Not all time-travel movies need to be serious odes to the perils of messing with the space-time continuum and Project Makeover is testament to that! A fun and light ride, Project Makeover is by all accounts a rom-com, made only the be enjoyed and not remembered for long. Jung-Joo is a thirty-something-year-old who is not living the life she had envisioned for herself. One of the guys she had dated in school and then broke up with is now a successful businessman. Another guy who asked her out several times (and was sorely rejected) is now a famous celebrity. The guy she did date ended up being a good-for-nothing sleazeball.
Of course, everything would be fine if Jung-Joo could just go back in time and convince herself to date the right guy! The movie has its flaws and can be non-sensical at times, but that is also a part of its charm. While you cannot change the past (as Jung-Joo will learn the hard way), you can still look forward to and change the future. Light-hearted, funny and full of warmth - this is a movie made for rainy days and sad nights.
A Day, 2017
A time-travel movie list would be incomplete without a film where the protagonist is stuck in a single day reeling over and over again! Two women die on the same day, at the same time. Kim Joon-young is a famous and successful surgeon, but a much less successful father. One day, he witnesses an accident which results in the death of his daughter. At the same time, Lee Min Chul lost his wife to an accident. Both of them then wake up to find the day starting all over again. They must now work together to find the reason for this, which may be more far-fetched than either had imagined. With several layered elements and sudden plot twists along the way, the film focuses on equal parts on dramatic reunions and high-paced thrilling sequences.
This is the second time that the lead actors - Kim Myung-min and Byun Yo-han, are reuniting since their stint in Six Flying Dragons which was an acclaimed Korean drama revolving around rulers of the Joseon Dynasty. Watch A Day id you're looking for a thriller with a heart. Extremely saddening at times and nail-biting at others, this is one of those movies that I would suggest without a moment's hesitation because overall, it's a pretty good ride!
Know more time travel-themed movies? Let us know in the comments!