LARA CROFT, TOMB RAIDER (2001) has the Illuminati recruit Lara (Angelina Jolie) to recover a mystic talisman that can turn back time: They want it for power, she hopes to restore her late father (Jon Voight) to life. In practice this could have been any McGuffin without affecting more than 10 minutes of the plot—unlike Safety Not Guaranteed, in which actual time travel is minimal, the time travel just isn’t integral to the story. Minor, but it definitely qualifies. “I have a gut theory about this—after all, you are the daughter of a genius.”
CROSSWORLDS (1996) doesn’t aspire to anything beyond being a low-budget adventure thriller, but as it succeeds it’s more of a pleasure to watch than some of the would-be deeper films I’ve watched for the book. The protagonist is a college student who discovers the necklace he inherited is a mystic talisman that will give an other-dimensional warlord the power to invade Earth. As this is just another dimension rather than an alternate history, it’s one I think I can cut if I need space (I haven’t quite firmed up where I draw the line between the two). Ellen Geer plays the hero’s mother and Jack Black has a bit part as a party animal. “Then lets watch the world go to hell together—one soul at a time.”
THE LOST MEDALLION: The Adventures of Billy Stone (2013) is a schmaltzy Christian kids adventure that makes Minutemen look superby by comparison. The story involves two kids hurled back to the past by a wish on a magic talisman, where they defeat an evil tyrant before learning the moral message that God loves them just as they are. Among its flaws are that it doesn’t even meet the logic standard for a magically powered time adventure: Wishing that a perilous event had never happened doesn’t require transporting the protagonist back 200 years. Another flaw is that even in an exotic Asian kingdom, the hero turns out to be the white kid. “You may have been an accident to your mother, but you are no accident to God.”
THE LAST DAY OF SUMMER (2007) stars Hayden Panettiere’s little brother Jansen in a Groundhog Day do-over: Wishing summer would never end, he finds himself living the same event over and over until he finds confidence to face middle school, performing on stage and initiating a relationship with a pretty girl. This contrasts with the usual character arc of these films, where the issue is learning not to be a jerk; it’s also unusual in that Panettiere not only figures things out at once, but tells his two best friends. As entertainment, forgettable. “Just keep pedaling!”
THE BLACK KNIGHT (2002) has Martin Lawrence hurled back to medieval times where Marsha Thomason and Tom Wilkinson enlist him in the fight to overthrow usurper Kevin Conway (“He tried to kill a man over vegetables!”). The emphasis on the self-serving Lawrence learning the meaning of honor would make this double-bill well with Whoopi Goldberg’s Connecticut Yankee-riff, A Knight in King Arthur’s Court (it would also fit with the classic The Court Jester, as both feature an inept freedom fighter in the lead). Heavy on anachronistic jokes and another one that fails its own logic,as the ending implies everything really was All a Dream. “Your tongue is swimming around in my mouth like an eel.”
The second season of MISFITS has the er, heroes coping with increasing numbers of other superhumans crawling out of the woodwork, the end of their community service and a mysterious ninja who keeps showing up to save their butts. Without going into details, this adds a lot more to the time-travel aspects of the show and that works; however I do find it odd they’re not the slightest bit fazed when they keep running into more metahumans.