As I mentioned the last time I posted on this topic, Best Time Travel Film lists simply recycle the same selections over and over. So as a new-made expert, I’m broadening the list a little.
CRUSADE (2006) has a frustrated young man use his mother’s experimental time machine to travel back to the Children’s Crusade (which also figured in the anime Sins of the Sisters). He tries to save lives as he travels with them (using his knowledge of basic first aid, quarantine, etc.) though he’s worried that by keeping the crusade going, more kids will end up dying or enslaved (it didn’t end well). The protagonist’s pragmatic approach — no worries about time-tampering, just helping people when they’re in trouble — gave this a different feel than most time journeys.
TOMORROW I’LL GET UP AND SCALD MYSELF WITH TEA (1977) is a delightfully goofy Czech comedy in which aging Nazis in a utopian future conspire with a time-travel pilot to go back and give Hitler a suitcase nuke to turn the tide of the war. Only everything goes wrong, starting with the pilot dying and getting replaced by his identical twin … I love this one, which is available subtitled on YouTube (all rights to image reside with current holder).
THE GRAND TOUR (1992) has Jeff Daniels coming to realize the strangers staying at his hotel are bored time travelers visiting the present for the thrill of watching one of the great disasters of history—which is obviously very bad news for his small town. A TV movie based on CL Moore’s Vintage Seasons, this is an ingenious tale with a good character in Daniels’ inn-keeper
TIMESHIFTERS (1999) also has a time-tourism premise but it’s more about action than character. Casper van Dien averts the disasters one tourist is here to watch, changing the future. To restabilize it and restore her time-erased child security agent Theresa Saldana must make sure the next disaster happens without a hitch; as it’s going to kill van Dien’s son, he’s not okay with this. A surprisingly well-done time adventure from the TBS cable channel.
5 DAYS TO MIDNIGHT (2004) was a SyFy (I think it was still SciFi then) miniseries in which someone sends Timothy Hutton a 40 year old briefcase containing a case file about his murder, five days in the future. Can he identify his future killer when so many people around him turn out to have a motive?
SOURCE CODE (2011) has Jake Gyllenhaal waking up on a train as someone he knows isn’t himself … and eight minutes later the train blows up. It turns out that a government counter-terrorist project has projected his mind into the memories of one of the victims so that he can identify the killer by time looping the events — but is it just a memory, or could it be a new reality? I like this, though I should note that both this and the Czech film have a happy ending where the guys pair off with a woman who thinks they’re someone else — for some people that’s creepy rather than romantic (they have a point, but it’s not a point that bothers me if I like the film).
STAR TREK IV: The Voyage Home (1986) is the “save the whales” film in which an alien probe is destroying Earth in its efforts to communicate with the now extinct humpback whales. The Enterprise crew head back to the past to bring back some whales, but find San Francisco in the 1980s takes a lot of getting used to. The most light-hearted of all the films, with the cast playing characters they know well and lots of cross-time humor.
More film recommendations at a future date.