' ' Cinema Romantico: My Favorite Time Travel Movie

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

My Favorite Time Travel Movie

Time travel is inherently ridiculous. It is, after all, time travel. This is why I always find the generally overused film criticism term “plot holes” being associated with the term “time travel” to be almost as ridiculous as time travel itself. Oh, perhaps one day a sturdy, serious filmmaker will get down to brass tacks and create a time travel docudrama in which every single action, every single movement, every single breath is coordinated exactly to ensure prevention of the Butterfly Effect’s wrath (though, more than likely, this will drive audience members to naps in droves) but until that day time travel should merely exist as the dilithium that drives the plot.

Dilithium, of course, is the element that propels spaceships in “Star Trek” to travel at warp speed. At least, I think that’s what it is. At least, that’s what it was in “Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home”, the only “Star Trek” movie Cinema Romantico really deems worthy of discussing. (I don't mean that as a knock against "Stat Trek", trekkies. Honest, I don't! It just ain't my bag, baby.) And hey! As chance would have it, “Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home” is all about……time travel! In fact, “Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home” is the greatest movie ever made about time travel.

That’s right. You heard me. Time travel is most effective and enjoyable when its explanation is limited. How? Don’t care. Why? All that matters. Establish the end game so that time travel is the only means to get us there and then, you know, just get us there. The end game in “Star Trek IV” is that humpback whales are needed to answer a probe threatening to destroy 23rd century humanity. Humpback whales have been extinct since the 20th century. Thus, the sole remedy is time travel. Now, how to time travel? What follows is what passes for the movie's entire explanation:

McCoy: “Are you really going to try time travel in this rust bucket?” 
Kirk: “We've done it before.” 
McCoy: “Sure, slingshot around the sun. If you pick up enough speed you're in time warp. If you don't, you fry.” 

On with the show!!!!!!!!!!!!! So yeah, they travel back in time, back to 1986, and proceed to do anything and everything that could overwhelmingly f--- up the future. Like, they’re not accidentally stepping a single innocent butterfly, yo, they’re basically taking battering rams to rhinos and driving them off cliffs. They need to ferry the whales to the future, of course, and Kirk’s requisite love interest COMES BACK TO THE FUTURE WITH HIM and in a minor mishap a naval officer winds up with Chekhov’s phaser and Spock Vulcan grips an 80’s-styled punk into submission and – gasp! – Kirk orders a Michelob (The Butterfly Effect should really be re-named The Michelob Effect) and, oh right, I almost forgot, Scotty gives away the secrets of futuristic transparent aluminum.

Well, he and McCoy need to barter with the kindly Dr. Nichols in order to attain the necessary equipment to house their whales aboard their spaceship for the spaceship ride home, see, and the only real bargaining chip he has is this futuristic formula. At this moment you can practically see/hear The Plot Hole Picker Outers blowing a gasket and The Butterfly Effect-ers crying heresy and, as if the movie senses it, McCoy pulls Scotty aside to strike it all down with one brilliant blow.

McCoy: “You realize that by giving him the formula we’re altering the future.” 
Scotty: “Why? How do we know he didn’t invent the thing?”

Scotty. Out.


Mette said...

Hahah, nice :). I enjoy time travel movies a lot, although my favorite time travel "thing" is the tv show Doctor Who. It's an opportunity to tell really cool stories I think.

Dan said...

I love Star Trek IV. I don't think it was #1, but it was near the top of my list of favorite time travel movies. It's a great adventure and doesn't get too wrapped up in the time travel part of it.

Rory Larry said...

How have you missed Brad's singular focus that "Primer" is the best made time travel movie? It's smart and well made and rewards multiple viewings.

I do believe in one the television series and thus part of the broader established cannon that they established that there is time police in the future that is committed to fixing problems caused by time travel. I can only assume that to those time cops, Kirk is history's greatest villain.

Nick Prigge said...

Mette: I've heard lots of good things about Doctor Who. Admittedly, I'll probably never watch it. It, like most of Star Trek, just isn't up my personal alley unfortunately.

Dan: Exactly! Time travel is just the device for them all to cut loose and have fun. That's what I love.

Rory: Oh, no doubt Primer is a "better" movie than Star Trek IV but seriously......it's Star Trek IV!!!

I really need to re-watch Primer as a matter of fact. I only ever saw it once per Brad's recommendation.