Two that definitely are—THE TIME MACHINE (1960) has Rod Taylor as time-traveler Herbert George, visiting the future in his gorgeously rococo time machine and discovering the peaceful, apathetic Eloi (most notably Yvette Mimieux) exist as a food source for the subterranean Morlocks. Bill Warren’s Keep Watching the Skies accurately lists many of the faults of this, such as how this post-nuclear war society developed on such different lines, and I spotted a couple he didn’t (the Morlock caverns simply aren’t dark enough for them to be so light-sensitive). Still the film has a tremendous charm which may be why neither of the two later remakes came anywhere close to matching it. “Can man control his destiny? Can he change the shape of things to come?”
THE CALLER (2011) is a time-travel horror film in which a woman discovers the landline in her apartment lets her talk to a dead former tenant because a)the woman strangled herself with it and b)both women have problems with abusive SOs. While this would normally be a ghost story, it turns out the dead woman is calling from back in 1979—and when the protagonist breaks off the relationship, the caller begins targeting people in the past so that they suddenly vanish from existence. Very creepy, but it runs out of steam at the end when it becomes a more conventional horror film.“If you’d really seen me, you’d have seen that I did change, a lot.”
And now, the disqualified ones—THE PHOENIX AND THE MAGIC CARPET (1995) adapts E. Nesbit’s children’s time-travel story into a movie with no time travel, just supposedly exciting desert-island adventures and wacky sitcom kid shenanigans. Neither of which would be out of line for Nesbit, but the execution is flat, the kids have no talent and the Phoenix looks like a rather miserable chicken. “How about TREASURE ISLAND—with a hot dog stand?”
POKEMON: Giratina and the Sky Warrior (2008) was another falsie—while it involves a mirror world and weird time distortions, unlike Arceus and the Jewel of Life it doesn’t have any time travel per se. It’s also much duller than the other film, with a lot more infodumping on the Amazing World of Pokemon.
POKEMON: The Rise of Darkrai (2007) seemed like a shoo-in as it involves a cosmic battle between Diagli, the Cosmic Time Pokemon and his Cosmic Space Counterpart (“They should never have met but they encountered each other in a rift outside time.”) but no, it’s just Toho-style monster clashes between the two with the human cast trying to minimize the damage. That said, it’s fairly entertaining, a very good Toho film (right down to including Darkrai as a seemingly destructive Pokemon who’s actually trying to save people). “Since when can Licky-Licky talk?”
TIME OF THE APES (1987) has a trio of modern-day Japanese caught in suspended animation when a laboratory is hit by an earthquake. Waking up, they find themselves in a far future world where mankind is no longer in charge … and while there is one brief bit of time-travel, it’s not worth more than a spot in my appendix. This was edited out of Army of Apes, a Japanese TV show inspired by America’s decision to air a Planet of the Apes TV series, though the Japanese version lasted longer. Not good, but reasonably entertaining (well, allowing for the fact I wasn’t feeling very picky). “You wanted to go to Green Mountain but instead you’ll go to your death!”