The 5 Most Ridiculous Repercussions of Time Travel in Movies
Time travel is one of the coolest devices used in sci-fi to set up an awesome story. The very idea of being able to travel to another time is fascinating for any number of reasons, and the implications of it have captured the minds of writers, philosophers, and everyday schmucks like you and me. And while numerous movies have been made on the subject, ranging from dark and grim sci-fi to hilarious hot-tub-based comedy, most seem to follow the same basic formula of what happens when you travel through time.
Generally speaking, there are few downsides to traveling forward in time, other than maybe being eaten by a Morlock. Going back in time opens a can of worms in which the worms have been replaced with shit and you open it while you're going over a speed bump so you get shit all over your clothes, maybe even in your mouth. It's pretty gross. You'll see it again and again in movies -- the things you do in the past affect the future/present. But usually it's really straightforward. You go back in time and stop a robot from killing John Connor's mom, you hump John Connor's mom, you become John Connor's dad. That's very simple and direct and in no way deserves to be questioned further. But every so often, you find a movie where the repercussions of traveling through time are way more fucked up than you would have guessed.
Back to the Future
Arguably the best time travel movie of all time, you may question why I would include this film. I'm not making fun of it; we all know it's awesome. It's the reason you care about Michael J. Fox -- no one liked Family Ties and we all know it. Tina Yothers? Fuck off. And it's the reason anyone ever wanted a DeLorean. It's pretty much the perfect '80s movie. However, in terms of the physics and repercussions of time travel, it does serve up a curious dose of what-the-fuckery.
If you recall, Michael J. Fox DeLoreans himself back to 1955, when his parents were destined to meet and bone and produce him and the rest of his family, only his presence screws that whole timeline up and his mom wants to put the hump on him. It's incestuous hilarity at its finest. But as a result of his mother's drop-of-the-hat whorishness, he's jeopardized his entire existence, a fact that is made head-scratchingly apparent by a fading family photo. Or, to put it another way, one erases himself from existence in a process of slow transparency manifested in photography and then finally reality. That's how time travel works here.
MILF! MILF! MILF!!
There's long been a paradox in time travel called the grandfather paradox. If you go back in time and kill your own grandfather, effectively stopping yourself from being born, how can you go back in time and kill your own grandfather? This is Back to the Future's way of handling that paradox -- translucent photography. No asking why it would happen, or the simple spontaneous destruction of a no-longer-logical timeline. The universe doesn't implode, or unravel, or produce a series of exponentially more complex and unlikely alternate dimensions to handle the influx of impossibilities presented by the reality of a person unmaking history. Instead you slowly fade away, have an anxiety attack, and introduce a small town to Chuck Berry until your parents agree to pork and then everything is fine.
Making fun of an Adam Sandler movie is a bit like wiping your ass before going to the bathroom, but this is a special circumstance, so please forgive me. In this case, we're concerned with his selfish-oaf opus Click, in which the sinisterly off-putting Christopher Walken offers Sandler a mysterious remote control to make his life easier. Unlike numerous other Sandler films, this one features a love interest who is a hot chick who should be out of Sandler's league, plus a role given to a washed-up icon from Sandler's childhood. I mean just like every other Sandler film. Just like.
Like all light-hearted comedies, this film is about selfishly ignoring those around you and missing out on important life events until your soulless, uncaring demeanor alienates you from everyone who ever cared about you and you die sad and alone. Stop slapping those knees, there's more article to read!
"Why the hell am I famous? Say no to vaccines!"
Sandler's character gets his eerie time-manipulating powers at Bed, Bath & Beyond. The remote lets him control the universe in much the way you'd control your laserdisc player. Still got one of those? I do. So he uses it to fast forward over the boring shit in his life, or the bad shit, and eventually his entire life gets away from him because he was never there to experience it. At the end he loses everything he had.
How any character with half a brain could get stuck in this terrible situation is the key to even understanding an Adam Sandler movie. Most of us would probably think "Cool!" at first, use it once, realize we had no idea what just happened and would never get that time back, and have an existential panic-fueled crisis. This is time travel that causes you to lose your life in small, digestible bites, over and over, until it becomes uncontrollable. Who would ever do that? What could the possible benefit be of knowingly passing up life events when you have no idea what you might be missing?
I'll tell you what the benefit is -- shtick from Rob Schneider. Is that what you want? Would you travel through time for that? Of course not. No one would.
Planet of the Apes
What a crock of shit we have here. Specifically we're dealing with 2001's Tim Burton abomination and, of course, we only need concern ourselves with the ending of the movie, because holy shit. Holy balls of viscous, semi-solid feces. Start shaking your head now, you'll need it for later.
So in this movie, Mark Wahlberg chases a space monkey. The space monkey travels through this weird rift in space-time, and all the other lab monkeys end up falling through it, too, and the result is a planet inhabited by smart-ass monkeys. And when Wahlberg arrives, in a distant future, it's the Planet of the Apes. Cool enough -- a science experiment goes wrong, we have smart monkeys. I get that. You get that.
Shit happens, there's a model, there's weird sexual tension with a monkey girl, and finally Wahlberg escapes so he can come back to Earth (because this monkey planet 100 percent was not Earth) and found his burger restaurant and make the world a better place. Except, when he goes back in time, to Earth -- so he traveled through space and time to a time and a place where there were never any smart monkeys at all -- he finds the Lincoln Memorial is now a monkey memorial. What? Say it out loud, right now. What?
"This is some straight up bullshit."
Time travel offers up any number of reasonable paradoxes beyond what we've already mentioned. For instance, if you take an iPhone back to yourself in 1980 and you then invent the iPhone, where did the original iPhone come from? There's also the idea that whatever you think you're doing to influence the past is impossible, because it's actually what already happened in the past and it's not changing anything, it's making everything happen as it already did happen. And then there's fuckin' Monkey Lincoln.
The ending of this film literally makes no sense. If anything, it robs sense from other places to fill the sense void it creates and still gets no closer to making sense on its own. Time travel in this movie basically has no goddamn rules at all. It allows for the proliferation of pan-galactic monkeys and sight gags that have no business in any potential reality or timeline.
Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure
This movie works on the premise that there exists a future in which Keanu Reeves is somehow integral to world peace and harmony. So basically any and all good futures. This should be the world we're all striving toward. In this utopian future, Bill and Ted are excellent musicians whose shitty rock music has brought us all together in most righteous harmony. But all is not serene! If they fail their history class, then their band will break up and the future of 1989 will turn into the present of now. Fuck. We've got Justin Bieber and the films of Kristen Stewart. Thanks for nothing, universe.
To nip this problem in the bud through the creation of a paradox that necessarily must exist in order to fix itself (doesn't make sense, doesn't have to), George Carlin and a phone booth help Bill and Ted travel through time to kidnap historical figures of extreme significance whose disappearances would have had a massively profound impact on our world, and even if they were returned to the moment they left, the presence of two '80s doofuses in an electric flying phone booth would probably have been cause for some gossip. But whatever. It's a funny '80s movie, so we don't nitpick the details. Except that's exactly what I'm doing.
"Scott Baio is so dreamy! Slap bracelets, Smurfs, and Cyndi Lauper, yay!"
The butterfly effect (the actual effect and not the terrible Ashton Kutcher film of the same name) wants you to believe that killing a butterfly in Denver could have far-reaching effects across time and space that could lead to a monsoon in Thailand. Or something very much like that. Change one thing in the past, the future is irrevocably different. Bill and Ted shat across epochs. They ranged through history pulling out massively important people who would have returned to their own times with knowledge of the 1980s and actual time travel. Lincoln, Genghis Khan, Napoleon, Socrates -- these were consequential people. And nothing mattered. Nothing they did changed anything. Of all time travel films, few deal with such potentially world-shattering alterations of history as Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure, and for all their meddling, not a single noteworthy change occurred. There is literally no downside to time travel in this universe, making it somehow even more insane than what happens at the end of Planet of the Apes. Bill and Ted could arguably have gone back and killed Washington and taken over as co-presidents of the United States, and still it seems like nothing would have been different.
This movie is balls-to-the-wall awesome at every stop, and I'll tell you why -- double Van Damme. Now, you may say, "Felix, don't you also get two Van Dammes in Double Impact, Maximum Risk, Replicant, and The Order?" to which I would reply, "You clearly looked up Van Damme on IMDb because no one remembers that he played the founder of the Order at the beginning of that movie." Let's move on.
Van Damme plays Pierre Le Time Cop or whatever -- it's been a while since I saw it, and Van Damme has never had a character name that wasn't stupid in a movie. His name in Cyborg was Gibson Rickenbacker. Who the fuck came up with that? It was like they were watching the dailies of the bad guy during that 20-minute sequence where all he does is roar and show his teeth while fighting Van Damme and they figured they just needed one more thing to push the movie over the edge into ultra-retarded and "Gibson Rickenbacker" is what did it.
"Graah! Aaaagh! Raaaagh! Graaaggh!" *repeat*
We could spend some time addressing why the cars of the future look like the night terrors of someone who designs PLAYMOBIL toys, but instead we'll jump right into the time-traveling fun. In Timecop, it's illegal to travel through time because people who travel through time are assholes and all they do is steal shit from the past. So you need Van Damme and his mullet to do the splits across the fourth dimension to keep us all safe. But there's one big, important rule, the biggest, most important time travel rule of all -- the same object cannot occupy the same space.
What I just said literally makes no sense because it's a statement that's technically already true of pretty much all things, let alone "same" things. You can't occupy the same space as anything else because you and everything else are made of atoms, which tend to rarely mix up like a sloppy old stew just because they're close to each other. However, that's precisely what happens in Timecop. If future you and past you touch, you become a disgusting blob of shit. Why? Fuckin' Newton, man, how should I know? It just happens.
We get a firsthand look at this awful outcome at the end of the movie when villainous Ron Silver and his beard meets other villainous Ron Silver. They turn into some kind of CGI pudding, and then Van Damme lives happily ever after with Ferris Bueller's girlfriend.