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Temporal Anomalies

Main Page
Discussing Time Travel Theory
Other Films
Perpetual Barbecue
About the Author
Contact the Author

See also entries under the
Temporal Anomalies/Time Travel
category of the
mark Joseph "young"
web log
elsewhere on this site.

Quick Jumps

Most Recent
Theory Articles Star Trek (2009)
Bender's Big Score
Holiday Films
Butterfly Effect
The Terminator Series
The Last Mimzy
The Lake House
The Time Traveler's Wife
Hot Tub Time Machine
Los Chronocrimines a.k.a. Timecrimes
A Sound of Thunder
FAQ About Time Travel
Source Code
Blackadder Back & Forth
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III
11 Minutes Ago
Butterfly Effect 2
Men in Black III
S. Darko
La Jetée
Midnight in Paris
Meet the Robinsons
H.G. Wells' The Time Machine
The Jacket
Butterfly Effect 3:  Revelations
Safety Not Guaranteed
The Philadelphia Experiment
Time After Time
The Philadelphia Experiment II
About Time
Free Birds
X-Men:  Days of Future Past
The Edge of Tomorrow
Mr. Peabody & Sherman
Project Almanac
Temporal Anomalies Classics
Other Articles
Still Ahead

Movies Analyzed
in order examined

    Addendum to Terminator
    Terminator 3:  Rise of the Machines
    Terminator Recap
    Terminator Salvation
    Terminator Genisys
    Terminator:  Dark Fate
Back To The Future
Back To The Future II
Back To The Future III
Star Trek Introduction
    Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home
    Star Trek: Generations
    Star Trek: First Contact
    Star Trek (2009)
12 Monkeys
    Addendum to 12 Monkeys
Flight Of The Navigator
  Flight Of The Navigator Addendum
Army of Darkness
Lost In Space
Peggy Sue Got Married
Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure
Bill & Ted's Bogus Journey
Planet of the Apes
Kate and Leopold
Somewhere In Time
The Time Machine
Minority Report
Happy Accidents
The Final Countdown
Donnie Darko
  S. Darko
Harry Potter and
    the Prisoner of Azkaban

Deja Vu
    Primer Questions
Bender's Big Score
Popular Christmas Movies
The Butterfly Effect
  The Butterfly Effect 2
  The Butterfly Effect 3:  Revelations
The Last Mimzy
The Lake House
The Time Traveler's Wife
The Hot Tub Time Machine
Los Cronocrimines a.k.a. TimeCrimes
A Sound of Thundrer
Frequently Asked Questions
    About Time Travel

Source Code
Blackadder Back & Forth
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III
11 Minutes Ago
Men in Black III
La Jetée
Midnight in Paris
Meet the Robinsons
H. G. Wells' The Time Machine
The Jacket
Safety Not Guaranteed
The Philadelphia Experiment
    The Philadelphia Experiment II
Time After Time
About Time
Free Birds
X-Men:  Days of Future Past
Edge of Tomorrow
Mr. Peabody & Sherman
Project Almanac
Time Lapse
O Homem Do Futuro
    a.k.a. The Man from the Future

Abby Sen
When We First Met
See You Yesterday
The History of Time Travel
Theory Pages
in no particular order

Discussing Time Travel Theory
A Primer on Time
The Science of Time Travel
The Two Brothers
The Spreadsheet Illustration
The Uncaused Cause
Mass Suicide and the Grandfather Paradox
Toward Two-Dimensional Time
A Critique of the Spreadsheet Theory
Response to A Critique
Temporal Theory 101
Temporal Theory Questions
  (From The Examiner)

Temporal Theory 102

Miscellaneous Articles
in original publication sequence except for indices inserted at correct points in the historic flow

Temporal Anomalies Classics
Temporal Anomalies Index 2009
Back to the Future Nationwide
  Theatrical Showing This Evening

People Magazine's Woman of the Year
  Sandra Bullock
    featured in time travel films

Temporal Anomalies Index 2010
Source Code Opens April 1, 2011
Future Time Travel Film Analyses--2011
Why Not Analyze
  Time Travel Television Shows?

Men in Black III Remakes History
Temporal Anomalies Index 2011
(Some of) The Best Time Travel Movies
  You Might Have Missed

Men in Black III May 25th U.S. debut
  midnight shows tonight

Future Time Travel Film Analyses--2012
Temporal Anomalies Index 2012
(Some of) The Best Time Travel Movies
  for Children

Films Currently Showing, November 2013
Upcoming Time Travel Films,
  from February 2014

(Some of) The Best Time Travel
  Romance Movies

Upcoming time travel films,
  from December 2014

Temporal Anomalies Index 2014
(Some of) The Best Time Travel Comedies
(Some of) The Best Time Travel Thrillers

Not Letters

Chuck Buckley's Time Travel Problem:
  First Response

Chuck Buckley's Time Travel Problem:
  Second Response

Chuck Buckley's Time Travel Problem:
  Third Response

Chuck Buckley's Time Travel Problem:
  Fourth Response

Vazor's Time Travel Questions:
  First Response


Doctor TOC, 12 Monkeys Fixed Timeline
Doctor TOC, Woman on Plane
JKrapf007, Evil Dead 2 Not a Remake
Nathro, Evil Dead 2 a Sequel
JKrapf007, Travel Before Your Birth
Nathro, More About Evil Dead
Sauce96, Terminator and Star Trek
Sauce96, Presenting an Original Story
Sauce96, Defending Paradox
Muhammed, A Line from 12 Monkeys
Holger Thiemann, 12 Monkeys Fixed Time
Chad Hadsell, Local Infinity Loops
Chad Hadsell, Time an Abstraction
Holger Thiemann, Testing the Theory
Chad Hadsell, Travel to the Future
Chad Hadsell, Erasing Future Self
Holger Thiemann, Temporal Duplicates
Gecko, 12 Monkeys Analysis Incorrect
Jason Seiler, 12 Monkeys Static Time
Jason Seiler, Metaphysics Class Links
Etienne Rouette, Woman on Plane
Matthew Potts, Woman on Plane
Bart, Parallel Universe Theory
Bart, Clarification

Copyright Information

The temporal anomaly terminology used here is drawn from Appendix 11:  Temporal Anomalies of Multiverser from Valdron Inc, and is illustrated on the home page of this web site.  This site is part of M. J. Young Net.

Books by the Author.

The Book

Temporal Anomalies in Time Travel Movies
The Examiner Connection

In June, 2009, the author was invited to contribute his temporal analyses to The Examiner, an online news and information service.  This would entail posting shorter articles in a more widely read forum, and thus led to the decision to serialize the analyses, to focus on problems created in each film as discrete units.

On August 8, 2015, changes in the editorial process at The Examiner made it impossible to continue working with the site, and we began the process of moving everything elsewhere, experimentally to Bubblews.  That experiment failed, so we are now gradually moving all these articles to this site, and hoping that the new Patreon campaign will cover the expenses.

Each movie addressed is listed below, along with links to each individual article where it was originally published; many have since been unpublished by The Examiner editorial board because they seem to believe no one cares about older articles.  A full list of the movies so covered can be found in the box to the right, under "Quick Jumps", the links there taking the reader to the sections on this page giving the links to the articles.  They can also be explored through the author profile at the Examiner site.

This page covers my articles as Time Travel Movies Examiner.  Those covered under my title New Jersey Political Buzz Examiner, new as of May, 2012, will be found at Law and Politics:  The Examiner Connection, elsewhere on this site; these also will be moved eventually.

Updates henceforth will be made to the Bubblews page.

Most Recent

The list of articles is getting long, and so it might be useful to include a quick list of the most recent additions to the site, with links to the sections in which they are described and linked on this page.

  1. Terminator part 4:  Looking ahead
  2. Terminator part 3:  Second film
  3. (Some of) The best time travel thrillers
  4. Terminator part 2:  First film
  5. (Some of) The best time travel comedies
  6. Temporal theory question:  Why does the original history end?
  7. Terminator part 1:  Original history
  8. Project Almanac part 15:  Irresolution
  9. Project Almanac part 14:  Reflection
  10. A Primer on Time part 3:  Anomalies
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The analysis of Primer was a vexing problem for many reasons.  The opportunity to break the analysis into individual bits and deal with each in its own space was a welcome one.  Here are the sections, as they appear at The Examiner:

  1. The Right Question with the Wrong Answer:  Right from the beginning, the efforts to protect history are done completely incorrectly.
  2. Answering the Phone:  The mistake related to how to protect history comes into stark relief when there is a call to a cell phone, and no one knows whether or not it should be answered.
  3. Shot Gun Party:  The time travelers make the very dangerous decision to change history, and then decide to change it again--and again, and again, and again.
  4. The Wrong Aaron:  We watch one partner explaining his discoveries to the other, but what we are seeing is already not exactly how it originally happened.
  5. The Punch That Never Was:  The question is raised, what would happen if you did something and then tried to erase it?  They never get the answer, but maybe we do.
  6. The Inexplicable Traveler:  On the way to deliver that punch, the time travelers are interrupted by the appearance of another time traveler.  They never figure out how this happened, but there is a reasonably plausible explanation.
  7. The End Beyond the End:  The time travelers manage to make the biggest mistake of all by attempting to fix their mistakes.
Subsequently there were also several questions asked by readers of the series, which were addressed in their own columns:
  1. The Disappearing Abe:  Tim E. Sham, author of The Primer Universe, asked what happens to the Abe seen by Abe and Aaron entering the storage facility; the answer is simple enough.
  2. Aaron's Future Plans:  It appears that Aaron may be building a larger version of the time machine somewhere in Latin America, and the curious want to ask why.
  3. Multiple Dimension Theory 1:  Several people suggested that Primer works under either parallel or divergent dimension theory; I say it does not.  This is where I address the problems faced under divergent dimension theory.
  4. Multiple Dimension Theory 2:  In the second part of the consideration of multiple dimension theory and Primer, I address the problems faced by pure parallel dimension theory.
  5. Fixed time theory:  Whether fixed time might be the theory behind Primer is considered, with particular attention paid to the phone call.
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Theory Articles

Beginning in July 2009, all Examiners were asked to contribute articles to the Info 101 project, an effort to provide answers to common questions in our fields.  Thus a series of Temporal Theory 101 articles were written, covering in brief various terms and concepts used in connection with time travel in movies:

  1. How does time work in time travel?:  An overview of the major theories of time travel is given, with mention of a few alternatives.
  2. What is fixed time theory?:  This is a presentation of the theory that the past cannot be changed, so if you were to travel to the past you would do, do, do what you've done, done, done, before, before, before.
  3. What is parallel dimension theory?:  Consideration is given to the idea that there are many other universes parallel to our own, and that time travel actually takes you to one of them rather than to our own past.
  4. What is divergent dimension theory?:  The view similar to and related to parallel dimension theory, this theory holds that such universes are created by the time travel event itself, and so diverge from the universe at the point of arrival.
  5. What is replacement theory?:  The theory favored by and defended on this web site holds that a time traveler can travel to his own past and alter it, with consequences which may affect his own existence and more.
  6. What is a temporal anomaly or paradox?:  It may be the obvious question, but it needed to be answered.
  7. What is an infinity loop?:  It seemed reasonable to include an article describing this most dangerous of all temporal anomalies.
  8. What is a sawtooth snap or cycling causality?:  The two terms are sometimes used interchangeably to refer to the phenomenon in which each history is the cause of a different history, but sometimes distinguished based on their ultimate outcome.
  9. What is an N-jump?:  The only desireable outcome for a time travel event is explained.
  10. What is sideways time?:  This notion, common to the theories of parallel and divergent universes and of supertime and two-dimensional time, suggests that one can travel across time to various universes.
  11. What is a predestination paradox?:  also known as a causal loop or uncaused cause, this popular trope of fixed time stories is explored.
  12. What is a grandfather paradox?:  the two distinct problems referenced by this term are distinguished and defined.
  13. What happens if I become my own grandfather?:  the particular versions of the predestination paradox in which the existence of an object is dependent upon its own appearance in the past is considered.
  14. What happens if I kill my grandfather before he has children?:  the problem created by a time traveler undoing his own existence is examined.
  15. What is a temporal duplicate or doppelganger?:  various ways in which a person can become temporally duplicated are considered.
  16. What is Niven's Law?:  the specific law proposed by science fiction author Larry Niven concerning time travel, that the discovery of the ability to change the past would lead ultimately to the elimination of such a discovery, is presented, explained, and discussed.
  17. A Problem with Divergent Dimensions:  examines divergent dimension theory more closely to show the complication that arises when the traveler does or does not make the same trip as his counterpart.
  18. What is the Butterfly Effect?:  looks at the meaning of this principle of Chaos Theory and how it is involved in time travel.
  19. What is the Novikov Self-consistency Principle?:  gives a brief overview of this rule devised by a physicist that amounts to saying that paradoxes are mathematically impossible under certain solutions of the problems of relativity.

Not unexpectedly, the theory articles also brought questions and comments.  Many of these were answered in the comments sections of the articles, but there was one respondent who raised several points requiring a clarifying article.

  1. Temporal theory questions from Waggs:  A reader posted several challenges in comments to the articles on parallel and divergent dimension theories, including that the number of parallel dimensions need not be infinite, that conservation of matter and energy need not be absolute in a multiverse, and that under quantum theory it is possible for irreconcilable histories both to be true.  Most of those arguments are correct within their own contexts, but still need to be limited and contextualized.
  2. Temporal theory questions from Jeff:  Another reader posted several variants of replacement theory, in which specific types of results are guaranteed.  Whether the guarantee is that things will be essentially unchanged, or that they will be worse, or that they will be better, the concepts all seem to invoke providence, as the article explains.
  3. Temporal theory and theology question from Hubert:  A reader posted objections to replacement theory which appeared to be theological.  The objections were a bit unclear, and the answer is thus a bit lengthy, but it is an interesting area where the two fields meet.
  4. Temporal theory question:  How can I change the past?:  In response to the perennial question, a system is suggested that might work to change history in intended ways and provide safe outcomes.
  5. Temporal theory question:  Do the future and past exist?:  Charles "Chuck" Endicott in comments suggested that the past and future cannot exist "now", because all matter and energy is in use "now" so there is nothing to be "then".  The issue is addressed from several perspectives.
  6. Temporal theory question:  Schrödinger's Cat:  begins a consideration of the notion that all possible realities exist as a "multiverse", including a discussion of the famous feline thought experiment often cited to prove it.
  7. Temporal theory question:  The Multiverse:  presents a major flaw in the "all possible realities exist" notion.
  8. Temporal theory question:  Why does the origional history end?:  addresses the frequently raised issue of what happens to everyone when the time traveler leaves the future, and why that is thought to happen.

Confusion about time travel theory was still unresolved, with some readers challenging whether we could really know anything at all about what happens if you travel through time. Thus a second theory series, Temporal Theory 102, was created to address the issues in more detail and provide some of the answers hitherto oft-repeated in e-mail correspondence.

  1. Knowing the unknown:  introduces the series with a brief description of the major theories of time travel.
  2. Nature of time:  considers whether the future and the past exist, and uses the analogy of the book on the desk to illustrate how time is a dimension.
  3. Mutability:  considers whether history can be changed, and the ramifications of the fixed time theory belief that it cannot.
  4. Parallel worlds:  introduces discussion of parallel and divergent dimension theories, and the shared problem that you are not really in the past.
  5. Unparalleled:  shows the problem of a belief in identical parallel dimensions, in that a single trip to the past changes half of all such worlds to a different history.
  6. Divergence:  looks at a couple problems with divergent dimensions, including the creation of another universe from nothing, the absurd resolution of Schrödinger's Cat, and the duplication of the time traveler.
  7. Change:  introduces replacement theory and presents the issue of the causal chain.
  8. Self-correction:  discusses the idea that little things can be changed but big things cannot, and the problem with how the universe can know which are the little and which the big things.
  9. Fixation:  examines the popular interpretation of Niven's Law, to the effect that once history has been changed it remains so, and the problem that causes with a duplicate time traveler.
  10. Freedom:  examines the problems of randomness and free will in a theory in which history repeats and must repeat exactly the same to stabilize.
  11. Rate of change:  considers the issue of whether changes to history happen all at once or gradually, and at what rate they might do so.
  12. Original history:  explains and defends the concept of the first timeline, the one in which no time traveler arrives.
  13. Stability:  describes how to get an N-jump, the only desirable outcome of a time travel event, including how it can occur with a predestination paradox.
  14. Repetition:  explains the infinity loop, in which two histories each cause the other, with the examples of the grandfather paradox, making an intentional change to the past, and otherwise preventing your own actions, with mention of a method of changing the past without creating this problem.
  15. Chains:  looks at sawtooth snaps, the outcome when each version of history causes an entirely different one, with the examples of meeting yourself, taking an object to the past that has already been taken to the past, and the complication of the butterfly effect.
  16. People:  addresses the oft-asked question of what happens to everyone alive when their history abruptly ends.
  17. Genetics:  describes the genetic problem with several examples of how marriages, relationships, deaths, and other interventions can have unexpected major impacts on the future population of the world.
  18. Summary:  concludes the series with a review of how to analyze a time travel story.

It is unclear whether this is the entire series at this point; work continues on it.

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Star Trek (2009)

In 2009 the Star Trek franchise decided to confuse all search engines by releasing a new movie with nothing more than the core name, Star Trek.  They also decided to confuse all the fans by going back to the beginning with a new cast in the old roles, and using time travel to erase everything that happened in all the stories to date and start a new history of the universe.  I will be tackling the film in parts.

  1. Introduction to the 2009 movie:  gives an overview of the plot and sets up the discussion ahead.
  2. Mister Scott's transwarp teleportation formula:  when Spock gives Scotty the formula Scotty has not yet invented, does that change the world at all?
  3. The death of Vulcan:  the destruction of Vulcan will have a significant impact on the future of the Star Trek crew, as Vulcans have become an endangered species; that is one of several changes to consider.
  4. Spock, know thyself:  what problems might arise from the fact that the older and younger versions of Spock ultimately meet.
  5. The final answer:  what happens to time one hundred twenty-nine years hence when Spock is faced with saving Romulus?

It is worth mentioning that three previous Star Trek movies have been analyzed on this site, Star Trek IV:  The Voyage Home, Star Trek Generations, and Star Trek:  First Contact.  Thanks to Jim Denaxas for providing the copy we saw.

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Bender's Big Score

A couple of Futurama fans have been pressing for an analysis of this direct-to-video animated feature, and I have objected that there are more time travel theatrical releases than I can cover; if I open the field beyond that, I will be completely overwhelmed.  However, they are insistent that fans of the show will flock to the discussion, and since this is now going to The Examiner rather than here, I have decided to turn my attention to Bender's Big Score.

  1. Introduction to the Futurama Movie:  a brief overview providing a glance at the plot and some of the problems.
  2. Beginning at the End:  it appears that the temporally last departure is the sequentially first, or at least that is the best conclusion we can reach.
  3. Futurama doppelgangers:  the first time trip reveals how the "self-correcting" code handles temporal duplicates, and we consider whether this is a plausible solution.
  4. Mona Lisa Men Have Called You:  as Bender begins his pillaging of the treasures of history, his first theft raises questions about all of them.
  5. Tut, Tut, Tut:  As Bender steals an Egyptian sarcophagus, we have opportunity to consider the process of thievery.
  6. Hermes ain't got nobody:  In a fatal move, Hermes loses his head and has his own body stolen from his past self.
  7. Cut to the Chase:  the convoluted paths of multiple Fry and Bender copies form the most challenging parts of the time travel story.
  8. Leela, Leelu, Lars:  continuing the chase, Fry's duplicate becomes Lars--but how does he know this?
  9. The Gorey Details:  there is an upset in the Presidential race thanks to Bender's pursuit of Fry, and that will change things.
  10. What have you undone?:  in the end, Bender manages to replace nearly all of the previous sawtooth snaps with infinity loops, undoing everything many times over.
  11. That's unwrapped:  an attempt is made to summarize the entire package.

This was another provided by Jim Denaxas, who as an animator himself was especially interested in seeing the film included here.

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Holiday Films

Christmas caught my attention as I realized the new 2009 version of A Christmas Carol was in fact a time travel film, and that there was at least one other well-known Christmas movie with a temporal element.  Thus as Thanksgiving loomed I prepared a few installments on Time for the Holidays.

  1. It's a Wonderful Time-Travel Christmas Carol Life:  provides an overview of those movies which connect some type of temporal anomaly to a Christmas story.
  2. A Christmas Carol:  focuses on the newly-released Disney version with Jim Carrey, but also on the time travel elements of the story that are consistent through most tellings.
  3. It's a Wonderful Life:  looks at the Capra classic, and the temporal elements involved in erasing someone's past and then restoring it.

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Butterfly Effect

A series has been run examining Butterfly Effect.  There were sequels; I captured Butterfly Effect 3:  Revelations on my home recorder and so inferred that there is also a Butterfly Effect 2 of which I had never heard mention anywhere.  Still, we did the first first.

  1. A Brief Overview:  gives a very quick summary of the essentials of the film.
  2. The Blackouts Problem:  suggests that the blackouts and the time travel have the same cause, but are not otherwise related.
  3. Evan at Seven:  recreates the original history up to the death of Evan's father.
  4. Four at Thirteen:  recreates the original history beginning with the mailbox and ending with leaving Kayleigh behind.
  5. Sophomoric Antics:  discusses the first two time travel events and the minimal changes they make to history, including the problem of the burn appearing.
  6. Joining the Fraternity:  covers the timeline that begins with seven year old Evan threatening Mr. Miller and ends with the miracle.
  7. It's a Miracle:  examines the trick of making the scars appear in his hands.
  8. The Wrong Fix:  in which Lenny kills Tommy to save the dog, and then Evan visits his father.
  9. Time and Time Again:  considers the problem created when Evan relives the same events again again.
  10. Having a Blast:  in which he is a quadriplegic but his friends are all happy.
  11. On the Edge:  in which he goes back for the knife but changes nothing.
  12. Out With a Bang:  in which he kills Kayleigh with the dynamite.
  13. Grandfather Paradox:  considering whether Evan had intended to kill himself
  14. Changing the Changes:  looking again at the problem of making two trips to the same point in the past, this time when both travelers have an agenda.
  15. How to Lose a Girl in Ten Seconds:  covering the final timeline.
  16. Relying on Niven:  in which the problem of whether changes to history are or are not permanent is considered.
  17. The Other Evans:  asking what happens to the versions of the central character who must have existed in the other histories.
  18. Where It Fails:  recapping the parts that do not work.
At least two sequels were made from the core ideas of this film; the first, The Butterfly Effect 2, has now been added to the analyses, and Butterfly Effect 3:  Revelations has also joined the list.

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The Terminator Series

With the release of Terminator Salvation, commenters suggested that the entire Terminator series should be presented afresh to incorporate the new data.  Thus all of Terminator, the first two films having the honor of being the subject of the first page published on this site and the third also analyzed a while back, is re-examined:

  1. A Starting Point:  taking the information about The Autonomous Weapons Division of the Cyber Research Systems branch of the United States Airforce from the third film, the original history is reconstructed sufficiently to give us an original SkyNet launch in 2004.
  2. Sarah Conner's Child:  the timelines created within the first movie are briefly recounted as Kyle Reese becomes the father of John Conner.
  3. History Repeats Itself Yet Again:  the complications created by the second film are considered, leading to the point where Sarah ought to create an infinity loop by destroying Cyberdyne Systems.
  4. Sidestepping Infinity:  explains how John Conner can save the universe by lying to his mother.
  5. Square One Squared:  the transition from the second to the third film is considered, addressing such details as the development of the futuristic weapons in a 2004 setting.
  6. John and Kate:  considers how the couple connect in that history of the world in which no terminator is trying to kill her.
  7. The Kate Escape:  how John and Kate could escape from a terminator without the aid of another terminator is considered, with an unexpected explanation.
  8. A Few Dead Men:  solutions are found for the anomaly created when the T-X appears to kill people on its hit list, which in bumping them off also bumps them off the list.
  9. Salvation Cometh:  a foundation is laid for the consideration of the fourth film, Terminator Salvation.
  10. Resequencing:  the sequential order of events is discussed, taking into account that SkyNet has not yet attempted to kill John Conner in the past when it tries to kill Kyle Reese in the future.
  11. Wrong or Wright?:  the peculiar conversation between SkyNet and Marcus Wright, in which the computer suggests that it has attempted to kill John Conner before, is examined.
  12. Paternity Test?:  why SkyNet believes that Kyle Reese is John Conner's father is another problem the film presents, and there are several possible answers that work within the film.
  13. Killing Niven's Grandfather:  it is admittedly possible that SkyNet does not know whether Niven's Law means that John Conner would still survive even if his father were killed in the future.
  14. Fixed or Replaced?:  the question of whether this movie might be explainable under fixed time theory is addressed.
  15. Bad Dates:  when Kyle Reese is born becomes a problem, because it appears to fall between the two SkyNet launch dates, which means he has to be born at roughly the same time despite the upheaval of the war.
  16. Half a Man:  the birth of Kyle Reese is made more probable by recognizing that there is some wiggle room as to whether this is the right Kyle Reese.
  17. Inconclusion, Temporarily Terminated:  the series is wrapped up and reviewed, with a few comments about the possible future of the series.

Again we have questions:

  1. Terminator Question 1:  When Does Kate Matter?:  the issue is raised as to whether John and Kate would have had to stay together following their basement tryst in 1997 if the T-1000 had not arrived, and the answer is complicated.

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The Last Mimzy

John "A-1 Nut" Cross called my attention to this family film which is also a time travel story, in which some scientist in the future is sending toy rabbits to the past in an attempt to gather some pure human DNA with which to restore humanity to the human race of the future.  The thinly-veiled environmentalist polemic makes for an entertaining story, but has serious problems as a time travel movie.  Our analysis of The Last Mimzy uncovers most of them:

  1. Time Travel for Kids:  introduces the film's premise and some of the challenges facing any analysis.
  2. The Lost Mimzys:  considers the problem created by the statement that "many" were sent to the past, but we can account for at most three.
  3. The Order of Mimzys:  examines the question of in what sense or senses the one in the film is the "last", and what that means to history.
  4. The Mandala Mimzy:  resolves the issues raised by the implication that a Mimzy in twelfth century Tibet impacted the development of Buddhism.
  5. The Alice Mimzy:  considers the problems which arise if Charles Dodgson does not become the famous Lewis Carroll by publishing stories inspired by a white rabbit trying to get through a looking glass back into a rabbit hole on time.
  6. What's in a Name?:  faces the particular problem of the use of the word "mimzy" in the Jabberwocky poem, and the loop that creates if Lewis Carroll got it from the doll and the doll got it from Lewis Carroll.
  7. Intelligence:  recognizes that Intel gets a boost to its technology which, as with Terminator, escalates in a sawtooth snap as each advance in Intel's technology improves the Mimzy which in turn advances Intel's technology.
  8. Numbers:  addresses the lottery problem, and the impact that the redistribution of wealth will have if Larry White and Naomi are multimillionaires in the altered timeline.
  9. Bridge Building:  tackles advances to civil engineering, the the potential change in future science that will endanger the existence of the scientist sending back the Mimzys.
  10. Parlor Tricks:  recognizes that entymology will also advance, and the basic research here will have unpredictable consequences.
  11. Precocious Prodigies:  concludes the series with a consideration of the impact two psionically capable children will have on the history of the world, ultimately very likely undoing all of future history.

A question was raised along the way:

  1. Probability of Analysis:  It was more a statement than a question in response to The Last Mimzy part 5:  the Alice Mimzy, but it challenged the likelihood of some aspect of the analysis being correct.  This discussion addresses how such analyses work, and in what senses they are likely.

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The Lake House

Sandra Bullock and Keanu Reeves have been romantically involved on screen before, and this time they attempt to make the sparks fly by correspondence.  Like that other Kate who fell in love with Leopold, this Kate is in the future and her Alex in the past, but in this case both of them lived at The Lake House at different times.

Here are the articles in the series:

  1. A Romantic Fantasy:  introduces the basic premise and the time travel element.
  2. How It Begins:  identifies the critical event which launches the magic that gives us the time travel.
  3. The Bitch is Magic:  examines the complication created by the presence or absence of the dog Jackie in the magic and the time travel.
  4. Reconstruction:  attempts to formulate the original history that existed before there was any time travel.
  5. An Accidental Meeting:  wrestles with the problem of why Alex was killed at Daley Plaza if he was not there looking for Kate, who in the original history he could not have known.
  6. They Got a Dog:  the initial changes made to history by the arrival of Jack the Dog are considered.
  7. The Flag Trick:  the magic that causes the mailbox flag to rise and fall is examined.
  8. Before You Ask:  the question is why Alex' letters don't leap to the future the same way Kate's leap to the past, and the answer has to do with the form of the future.
  9. Ratcheting:  covers the little things that happen along the way, as time keeps being revised.
  10. Instant Graffiti:  looks at the walking tour, but most particularly the problem of the grafitti suddenly appearing at the end.
  11. A Tree Grows:  considers a similar but more complicated problem with the appearance of the tree in front of Kate's apartment.
  12. Happy Birthdays:  looks at the revisions of time in the changing interactions at the party Morgan throws for Kate.
  13. No Call No Show:  brings up the problem of Alex' failure to call at the time Kate suggested and to appear at the restaurant at which he'd made reservations.
  14. Real Estate:  considers the complications involved in people moving to the correct addresses at the right times.
  15. Persuaded By a Book:  finally deals with the delivery of Kate's copy of Persuasion by hiding it in her apartment somewhere where it wouldn't be found for a couple years.
  16. The Other Book:  examines what happens when Kate sense Alex a book that has not yet been published when he receives it.
  17. Visionary Coincidence:  brings Kate to the architect brother of the architect she knew, which at least raises eyebrows.
  18. This Changes Everything:  finally reaches the conclusion of the movie, which rewrites all of history to one final form completely incompatible with every previous form.

Our copy was another gift from Jim Denaxas.  Again there were questions from readers:

  1. Assorted Questions from Fred & Doc:  apparently the answer given in The Lake House part 8:  before you ask did not adequately answer all the questions, because two readers challenged some of the statements made.  This article was promised as an answer to those questions.

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The Time Traveler's Wife

It is easy to see why this film has such appeal.  As a time travel story, it is highly challenging, with many interesting ideas and insights and more expressed and implied trips through time than any other film in recent memory.  Meanwhile, it remains a love story, a story of two people overcoming the problems posed by what is treated as a medical condition, that one of them periodically and unexpectedly vanishes from time and space, spends time elsewhen, and as unpredictably returns.

Its perturbations made The Time Traveler's Wife one of the most challenging to analyze in a long time, as the sheer number of relevant articles attests.

  1. A Fixed Time Gem:  opens the series with the recognition that the film could work under fixed time, if we are comfortable with a few informational predestination paradoxes.
  2. A Fixed Time Heartbreak:  suggests that the film is less romantic as a fixed time story, in part because the central romantic notion is probably not true.
  3. The First Time is the First Time:  pulls together as much of the timeline as possible from such clues as the film gives.
  4. The First Time is the Worst Time:  considers what the first trip would have been like before there were any other trips to alter it.
  5. The Artist and the Librarian:  considers this as their first meeting in the original history.
  6. A Future Problem:  explains what happens when Henry makes trips to the future.
  7. Just Say "No":  explores the nature of freedom when history literally repeats itself.
  8. Altared:  reconstructs the original history of the wedding, and how that might have been resolved.
  9. The Second First Meeting:  looks at the early meadow meetings and how each changes the others.
  10. Make Your Own Luck:  considers the use of time travel to win the lottery.
  11. Millions:  looks at how much money Clare really won.
  12. Housing Problem:  examines the odd approach to house hunting which evidently relies on Henry's knowledge of where they are going to live.
  13. Tell Gomez:  recognizes that Gomez learns about Henry's problem at different times in different timelines.
  14. A Doctor In the House:  unravels a plausible original cause for the involvement of Dr. Kendrick, who in the film is persuaded to help by someone who already knows he will.
  15. Cutting Off the Future:  finishes those time travel considerations related to Henry's vasectomy, and particularly the impact of Clare's first kiss.
  16. She Tells You Her Name:  discovers that Alba's name points strongly to this as a replacement theory story, as it explores her meeting with her father at the zoo after his death.
  17. Melodic Break:  looks at Henry's trip to say goodbye in the meadow, and catches a discontinuity in the story.
  18. Death Foreseen:  Considers the rather complicated interaction of anomalies that enable Henry to see himself dying.
  19. A Question of Stability:  considers the ramifications of the question of whether Henry and/or Alba have any control over their travels.
  20. Not Quite the End:  reaches the point at which Henry is shot, leaving Clare as the time traveler's widow.
  21. Alba, Know Thyself:  tries to resolve the confusion created when ten-year-old Alba visits five-year-old Alba, twice.
  22. The Truth Will Out:  reaches the final trip of the story, in which Alba learns what happened to her father, and so knows the entire tale.

It is a long series; I anticipate that there may be questions along the way.  It has been a fascinating movie that left me grasping for clues for a long time, but an enjoyable one all the same.

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Hot Tub Time Machine

Intended as a comedy, the bawdy R-Rated film raises some interesting problems in time travel.  A number of people don't like it, but there were requests for Hot Tub Time Machine, and so it has been added to the list.

  1. Not As Expected, or Warming Up:  a brief background sets the stage for the analysis of the film.
  2. The Big Issue, or Theory?  What Theory?:  fixed time is considered and discarded in connection with the analysis of this film, and replacement theory introduced.
  3. Memory Problems, or What Do You Know?:  looks at the unanswered questions concerning who remembers what when.
  4. The Fundamental Problem, or Dying to Go:  recognizes that the entire reason for the trip is erased by the trip, creating a major anomaly.
  5. Adam and Jenny, or Fork You:  examines why Adam gets stabbed both when he breaks up with Jenny and when she breaks up with him, and more fundamentally why he was unable to save that relationship.
  6. Adam and April, or Planned Spontaneity:  looks at the meeting that happened only in the second history, and considers what would happen in the other histories.
  7. Chocolate Lipstick, or Sing It, Nick:  considers the change Nick makes to his music career.
  8. Calling Courtney, or Mrs. Webber-Agnew:  hits the problem created by Nick's phone call to his then nine-year-old future wife.
  9. Lou and Kelly, or Don't, Stop:  hits the problem with Jacob's misconception.
  10. Motley Lou, or Sing It, Dorchen:  deflates the notion that Lou could steal the career of a successful band by taking their music.
  11. Lougle, or Search Me:  the flaw in trying to steal the success of Google.
  12. A Squirrely Butterfly, or Pass On This:  studies the interaction between the squirrel and the bet and chaos theory.
  13. Operation Chernobly, or Inconceivable:  recognizes the complication that if Jacob is conceived because Lou encounters Kelly while searching for the Chernobly, Jacob would not have existed in the original history.
  14. Disarming Phil, or Left Right:  hits a snag in unraveling the problem with the loss and restoration of Phil's arm.
  15. Staying, or Loopy Memories:  asks what happens when Lou stays in the past, and realizes that that there is a problem inherent in the entire story that prevents a happy ending under replacement theory.
  16. An Alternative, or Side-By-Side:  finds a potential resolution to the story in parallel dimension theory, while admitting that it makes quite a mess in several universes but does provide the story we observe in one of them.

In the end, the story works, but not as a time travel story.

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Stephen Farrar not only encouraged me to do this analysis, he forwarded his own helpful notes on the subject.  With this incentive and a copy provided by Jim Denaxas, I tackled the complicated time travel tale that is Premonition.  It was daunting enough that I wrote a sixteen-part series, realized that due to one mistake in detail it was completely wrong, then scrapped it and wrote a replacement series, as follows:

  1. An Outline:  which gives the essence of the story as presented on the screen.
  2. The Problems:  which identifies the major temporal issues that must be resolved.
  3. The Glass Door:  which looks at the accident which happens in some timelines but not others.
  4. Crashing Cars:  which presents the fundamental problem of the film's core event, and starts to resolve it.
  5. An Original History:  which attempts to reconstruct the week in which no one arrived from the future.
  6. The First Change:  which reconstructs a proposed lost original anomaly and shows how Linda causes the accident before she knows about it.
  7. Memory:  which addresses the peculiar memory issues in this particular story.
  8. The Second Trip:  which considers what appears as the first trip in the film, from Thursday to Monday, and the history it creates.
  9. Leaving Saturday:  which deals with the problem of two separate trips originating from the same departure point.
  10. The Third Trip:  which reconstructs the changes caused by the trip from Saturday to Tuesday, and the history it creates.
  11. Niggling Details:  which covers those less important but annoying points that arise in the film.
  12. Displacement:  which considers the trip from Friday to Sunday, and the problem of two distinct traveling spirits arriving at the same temporal destination.
  13. History:  which constructs the week that will be remembered once everything resolves.
  14. Obliviated:  which answers the oft-asked question of what happens to the time traveler who departed from a previous version of history and then returns to the future.
It was, as noted, a very challenging puzzle, but it was not insoluble despite some quirky assumptions.

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Los Chronocrimines a.k.a. Timecrimes

Several readers encouraged the analysis of Los Chronocrimines, a Spanish film released to English-speaking audiences under the name Timecrimes.  Thanks go to Gary "Gazza" Sturgess for making a copy available (along with several other films).  It proves to be a fascinating multi-layered predestination paradox, but also unravels with a very few assumptions.

  1. The Gist:  briefly presents the concept of the film.
  2. Harmonization Begun:  stacks the three repetitions of the time traveler's action into a single timeline, through a critical midpoint in the story.
  3. Harmonization Completed:  finishes the single timeline presentation of the story.
  4. A Naked Problem:  presents the problem of why the girl would be in the woods absent the time traveler's interference.
  5. An Intentional Problem:  presents the problem that all the critical actions of the first version of the traveler are intentionally induced by the actions of the second.
  6. An Accidental Problem:  presents the problem that the actions of the second version of the traveler are largely induced by those of the third.
  7. A Third Person Problem:  examines the actions of the third version of the traveler, and how they are geared to control those of the second.
  8. The Naked Girl:  proposes one possible explanation for the presence of the girl in the woods.
  9. An Original Stalker:  rejects the previously proposed explanation in favor of one which assumes the presence of an outside party in the original history.
  10. A First Change:  attempts to reconstruct the actions of the time traveler after his first trip back before the existence of the version of himself who makes the second trip.
  11. Who Fell?:  raises and answers the question of why the time traveler believed it was his wife who fell from the attic when the later version of himself had not interfered.
  12. Third Acts:  reconstructs the actions and motivations of the third version of the time traveler.
  13. Stabilizing:  explains how the actions of all versions of the time traveler ultimately form a stable history.

There is slated to be a 2012 release of another movie under this title, of which details are not yet available.

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Michael Crichton is known for being able to take the latest ideas in science and turn them into thrilling novels which become exciting movies.  Timeline takes the basic story from one such Crichton novel and does a decent job of keeping the tension high.  The question, though, is whether the time travel elements work.

  1. Complications Overview:  introduces the film with a look at some of the problems which make analysis more difficult, including the multiple unreported trips to the past.  (It includes a brief explanation of the nature of the time machine.)
  2. The Unchanged:  gives consideration to those aspects of history which either could not or must not have changed in all the previous trips to the past, as part of determining the original history.
  3. Decker:  considers the trip which left Decker in the past, and attempts to clarify the difference between the movement of time in parallel at each end of the wormhole and the fact that all of history has happened between those points before anyone can reach the future end from the past.
  4. Taub:  works toward establishing the original history following the last trip prior to that made by Professor Johnston.
  5. Professor Johnston:  considers the hazards of a scientist interfering in history, and whether the professor's interference could have ruined time.
  6. The Sarcophagus:  looks at perhaps the most confusing piece of the film, the question of what would be written on Marek's sarcophagus when Marek unearths it.
  7. Glasses:  considers whether the glasses could have been discovered where they were, and what is required for that.
  8. Smashing:  looks at the information predestination paradox that occurs when Kate determines where to smash the wall to find the tunnel based on the fact that she remembers seeing where the wall had been smashed.
  9. Captive Claire:  contradicts the suggestion made by the professor that the reason the Lady Claire was recaptured after having been rescued is that it was inevitable that she would die on the battlements.
  10. The Dead and the Living:  explains why the question of who lives and who dies is more important than merely whether the war is fought.
  11. Hidden Tunnel:  addresses the awkward question of why the use of the tunnel in capturing the fort is not mentioned in the history books.
  12. Multiple Dimensions:  rules out parallel dimension theory as a viable explanation of the events of the film.
  13. The Last Original History:  determines the original shape of history at the moment of the departure of the team we follow.
  14. The Recall Problem:  uncovers a serious problem with the recall devices which becomes apparent due to Bill Baretto's grenade.
  15. The Baretto Anomaly:  looks at the anomaly created when the time machine pulls Baretto out of history.
  16. A Blast:  reconstructs other aspects of the overlapping anomalies involved in Baretto's return.
  17. Recalling:  looks in more detail at the recall device problem and the nature of the anomalies it creates.
  18. Resolution:  reaches the final outcome of the final history, with caveats.

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A Sound of Thunder

A nineteen fifties Ray Bradbury short story about a drastic change in history resulting from a time traveler stepping on a butterfly became the basis for a 2005 feature-length film of the same title, A Sound of Thunder.  The reference to thunder in the short story is both to the footsteps of a tyrannosaurus and to the explosion of a rifle; in the movie it is an allosaurus, and possibly the shaking of history as it changes.  There is a lot to cover in the film, another gift from Gary Sturgess.

  1. A Story:  gives the background and overview of events.
  2. Precautions:  praises the film's insights into the dangers of time travel, but also covers the changes they overlook.
  3. Butterfly Effect:  considers whether the death of this particular butterfly could have had a significant impact on the future.
  4. Allosaurus:  finds a problem in the concept of taking several people back from different times to kill the same dinosaur at the same time and place.
  5. Wave Goodbye:  tries to make sense of a wave of change moving through time and space by considering how fast it moves in both dimensions.
  6. Climate:  questions whether any alterations arising from the death of any creature in the cretacious era could impact the climate of the temperate latitudes in our time.
  7. Missteps:  wonders how a tree could suddenly appear full-grown without having first appeared as a sapling someone could have trimmed.
  8. Undone:  points out that if Dr. Rand will eventually cease to be human, so will those who made the trip that changed history, in which case they will never have made such a trip.
  9. Scouting:  considers the problems faced by the scout, who ultimately cannot give the report he apparently gave.
  10. Late Arrivals:  returns to the waves, trying to understand what is preventing time travelers from reaching the right point in history.
  11. Interference Waves:  continues to explore how the waves prevent travelers from reaching the past, and looks for an explanation that fits with the solution the movie offers.
  12. Meaningful:  tries to understand why every trip to the past does not create destructive waves of change in the future.
  13. Ubiquity:  recognizes that if a timewave passes through every moment of time, then it exists in every place at every instant and cannot be recognized as something abnormal.
  14. The Mechanism:  considers comments made about energy in the last trip to the past, in an effort to make sense of the time travel process.
  15. Boomerang:  looks at that last trip in some detail, trying to grasp why that trip is completely different from the others.
  16. Unendings:  puts the final nail in the coffin, in that by undoing the disaster that prompted all the efforts to fix it, the heroes undo their own efforts and so restore the disaster.

It is an interesting film that raises a lot of important issues, but it creates too many problems and inconsistencies.

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Some people dislike Nicholas Cage for what they see as his wooden acting, his flat lack of emotion.  Whether that is a fair criticism, it serves him well in Next, in which he plays a man who always knows what is about to happen and so is never surprised when it does.  Does that make it a time travel film?  The point could be argued, and in the series we argue it.

  1. The Setup:  gives an overview of the story with some preliminary considerations about the temporal elements.
  2. Information:  contrasts information time travel against prediction by probabilities, citing movies for each.
  3. Dodging:  considers how the ability relates to the avoidance of physical objects including bullets and blows.
  4. Avoidance:  goes beyond avoiding impacts to consider evading pursuit and capture.
  5. Shoot:  grapples with the one moment in the story in which it seems the character did not expect what happened.
  6. Meetings:  considers the problems related to the use of the skill for previewing social interactions, and whether it means he can see impossible futures.
  7. Divergence:  addresses whether some type of multiple dimension theory might explain the film as a time travel story.

In the end, it seems that this story has more in common with Minority Report than with Frequency:  a story in which precognitive prediction of probable future events creates the illusion of time travel without providing real knowledge of the future.  Thanks to Jim Denaxas for our copy of this one.

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Frequently Asked Questions About Time Travel

It was a very fun film to watch, but a very challenging film to analyze, but finally this British comedy Frequently Asked Questions About Time Travel is here, in fourteen parts:

  1. A Movie:  gives an overview of the story as we see it.
  2. Delay:  shows how a trip from the future changes one little thing which launches the entire story.
  3. Sequence:  works out the order of the first few time trips.
  4. Edit:  looks at the intentional effort to alter history.
  5. Apocalypse:  follows the primary characters to their distant future.
  6. American:  finds an odd explanation for the juxtaposition of a near-term apocalypse against upscale time travelers familiar with modern events.
  7. Frustrated:  returns to the editor, as she discovers that the people she wanted to kill weren't there.
  8. Petering:  considers the impact of the temporal wandering of one member of the party.
  9. Overlap:  considers a few more seemingly minor events in the time travels.
  10. Partying:  takes them to the fan party thrown for them, and considers how it changes.
  11. Rewrite:  tries to track how various trips interact to change each other.
  12. Cassie:  fills in some of the gaps in her time travels.
  13. Climax:  looks at the big moment, and how it resolves given various assumptions.
  14. Denoument:  considers what is and is not possible in the bits of nonsense they present at the end of the film.

Interestingly, although it was a very difficult film all the way around, much more of it proved workable than anticipated, and it winds up highly recommended even though wildly improbable.  Gary Sturgess provided a copy of the British-release version; there does not appear to be one released with American DVD encoding.

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Source Code

We saw this one coming, and previously announced when it was going to be opening in theaters; but in another sense, we did not see Source Code coming.  It was an excellent movie on several levels, with only a few very minor issues.  Our analysis gives it high marks.

  1. Spoilers:  gives the basic plot of the film and introduces most of the major players.
  2. Memory:  looks at what Dr. Rutledge claims the machine is doing, in sending Colter Stevens into the memories of the dead Sean Fentress.
  3. Divergence:  leaps ahead to what is actually happening, as each trip creates a divergent universe based on what Stevens has Fentress do.
  4. Quantum Leap:  examines the mode of travel, in which one mind takes over another body, and raises the unasked question of what happens to the other mind.
  5. First Divergence:  starts constructing what happens in the new universes, and showing how the expand toward infinity.
  6. First Clue:  shows that what at first looks like a mistake on the part of the filmmakers turns out to be the first evidence that what Rutledge is telling Stevens is not what is really happening.
  7. Base:  considers events happening in the original world in which Stevens' body lies and in the imagined world of the capsule he creates to make sense of his experience.
  8. Information:  moves into those trips in which he starts using what he knows to learn more.
  9. Boom:  reveals that there might after all be universes in which the nuclear bomb explodes, because of a phone call.
  10. Completion:  brings us to the completion of the mission, as Stevens identifies the bomber and enables Rutledge to prevent the second bomb.
  11. Future:  follows Stevens back into the past, and extrapolates some of what happens in the last world he creates, in which he remains.

Overall, it was an excellent movie.  Kudos to the creators for getting most things right.

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It looks so simple at first:  a demon grabs a warlock out of a colonial Boston prison and transports him to modern California, pursued by a witchhunter who hitches a ride.  The hunter, assisted by a modern girl, defeats the warlock, and returns to his own time.  Yet there are some serious complications when it is scrutinized, and so Warlock is worthy of consideration.

  1. Not So Easy:  gives the basic story, with particular attention to the problem areas and the quest to gather the three parts of the Grimoire.
  2. Cough, Cough:  focuses on why it is a problem for Redferne to discover his own coffin with part of the book buried with him.
  3. Unburied:  considers how the demon Zamiel would change history if he prevented Redferne from being buried.
  4. When:  examines the problems that arise on the theory that the pages not buried with Redferne but in another place to be found at another time.
  5. Concurrence:  resolves the problem created by the pages moving from one location to another.
  6. Foreknowledge:  seeks and finds a way to simplify the complications somewhat by reconsidering the time travel element itself, in terms of how it might have worked.
  7. Return:  considers the complications created when Redferne is restored to his own time, and determines whether the movie can work as a time travel story.
  8. Fixed:  reconsiders the film as a fixed time story, and explores the problems which arise on that interpretation.

In the end, the film proves to be a possible story, given certain assumptions.  Thanks again to Gary Sturgess for providing a copy for our consideration.

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Blackadder Back & Forth

Another gift from fan Gary Sturgess, this film bills itself as the entire fifth and final series of the famed Rowan Atkinson British television comedy Blackadder, but was shot on film and theatrically released in England.  As with most comedy time travel stories, it raises interesting questions about time travel by poking fun at the concept.  Thus Blackadder Back & Forth finds a place in our time travel work.

  1. What It Is:  argues whether it is validly included as a time travel movie, introducing the cast and the background.
  2. The Bet:  tells us how the story starts, and how a time machine becomes involved.
  3. Long:  examines the first hop to the past, which takes us farther than any other time travel story to this point.
  4. Elizabeth:  comes to the court of the first Queen of that name and introduces William Shakespeare (sometime author of additional dialogue in previous series credits).
  5. Space:  tries to put a date on the starship battle the traveling duo next encounter, and fit it into the time travel events.
  6. Sherwood:  hops back to the time of Richard I and Blackadder's defeat of Robin Hood.
  7. Wellingtons:  is about the boots, the man who wore them, and the battle which made him famous.
  8. Legions:  looks at events around Hadrian's Wall when the Scots attack.
  9. Home?:  brings the travelers back to their temporal starting point, and considers the changes they encounter there.
  10. Repairs:  asks whether it would be possible to fix what he broke, and whether it can be done the way he does it.
  11. King:  considers the complications involved in bringing about the final scene of the story, in terms of manipulating the politics of the nation over centuries without altering the gene pool.
  12. Divergence:  asks whether the story might work under a divergent dimension theory, and finds a major problem in connection with the film not following its own established rules.
  13. Simultaneity:  concludes the consideration of the problem of whether a time traveler can replace himself by traveling to the same moment he previously visited.

Clearly a fun film worth watching, but it was not expected to be a possible time travel story, and it several times proved it was not.

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Gary Sturgess again wondered about the temporal elements in another film, the screen version of Watchmen, so he sent a copy.  Although it is the director's cut (we do our analyses from theatrical release versions as a rule), the minimal involvement of the temporal elements suggests that the impact of the additional "non-canonical" footage will have little impact on what we know.  It is again a story in which information travels from the future to the present, which opens several possibilities.  The viewer is cautioned that the film earns its "R" rating with more than just foul language and comic book violence.  It is based on a famous graphic novel, in this case of comic book superheroes, but is not for children.

  1. Possibilities:  a quick overview of the relevant aspects of the film shows hints of both fixed time and parallel dimension theory, leading to confusion at the outset.
  2. Consciousness:  the mind of the critical character is considered, seeking an explanation for how he can not know in the present what he knows he will know in the future.
  3. Evolution:  the question is addressed as to whether such a consciousness would be a possible trait in evolutionary terms, that is, whether it could come into existence as it appears to work in the film and whether it would become part of the racial genome.
  4. Parallels:  the mention of parallel universes is explored, with reference to possible meanings, seeking one that fits the skill as we see it.
  5. Unrealities:  completes the consideration of possible meanings of the reference to parallel universes, considering the absurdity expressed by Schroedinger's Cat, and the impossibility of such a world.
  6. Self-fulfilling:  considers the predestination paradoxes that appear sometimes in Jon's seemingly self-fulfilling predictions.

Although on the surface the film seems to suggest concepts from Next or Minority Report or Frequency, it is something else again, but not something that appears to fit our reality.

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Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III

They were very popular for a while, and managed to become the stars of three feature films, leaping from the indie comic book pages to television to the silver screen as only ninjas could do.  In the third film of the trilogy, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III, often monikered Turtles in Time (but not, it seems, on the DVD release), they traveled to feudal Japan and won a war for the people against the daimyo.  Not only do they tamper with history, though; they use a time travel device which requires communication with the future, complicating matters greatly.  Our analysis thus deals with five time trips, each of which is both a trip to the past and a trip to the future.

  1. Turtles in Time:  provides an introductory overview to the events.
  2. Dimension Hopping:  considers whether the film could be resolved under some version of multiple dimension theory, and what that would mean to the story.
  3. Sequencing:  attempts to resolve the issue of which trip is the first trip, and how the fact that the last departure becomes the first arrival impacts our analysis.
  4. 1400:  examines the original history of the time prior to the events of the movie.
  5. Verona:  looks at the Romeo and Juliet story in the original history of the time we actually see the Turtles visit.
  6. April:  considers the impact of the trip that is first in terms of the temporal moment of departure.
  7. Turtles:  looks at what happens when the Turtles themselves make their rescue trip.
  8. Michelangelo:  examines the problems of the return trip, and the special problem of the fact that one of the Turtles missed the ride and has to wait for the next one.
  9. Replay:  returns to the issues involved in the question of whether the last departure and first arrival occur before or after all the others are resolved.
  10. Disaster:  suggests a resolution to the story that works within the context of what we see on the screen but spells disaster for the world we never see.
  11. Vanishing:  considers the alternative, that travelers from the past vanish at the moment of their departure and wait for the future to arrive, rather than living and dying in the past and then having that history altered by a traveler from the future.

Although it is not usually remembered, the Turtles themselves were the last major work of Jim Henson, who made the animatronic muppets work in the first movie of the series shortly before his untimely death.  It was a wonderful accomplishment to crown his life's work.

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11 Minutes Ago

A rare gem of a time travel story, well crafted and recommended by reader Jim Shaarda, 11 Minutes Ago is well worth watching.  It is also challenging to analyze, and I must thank Kyler Young for being a sounding board on this and helping me work out the card trick problem.

  1. Three Stories:  gives a brief overview of the film and the problem it sets.
  2. Failure:  provides an explanation for why Pack made the second trip.
  3. Return:  discusses the second trip, and how it becomes its own cause.
  4. Skip:  touches on the problem of why his third arrival was early, and how that impacts the rest of the story.
  5. Missed:  considers why he returns for the time he missed.
  6. Tumbling:  examines what we know about the time travel device, and how it must work in order for the story to resolve.
  7. Earlier:  begins tackling the issues involved in the first half of the party and the skip to the 7:15 arrival.
  8. Choppy:  considers how the first half of the night must have been constructed from multiple time trips.
  9. Spoilers:  is the first look at the last trip.
  10. Cards:  explains the complications created by the predestination paradox that is inherent in the card trick.
  11. Chance:  resolves the card trick problem, recognizing that it was a very risky idea.
  12. Future:  gives an overview of the potential problems ahead for Pack and Cynthia and indeed the entire universe.

The film was made in a single day, and it is fascinating to watch so much of it playing out in the end.

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The Butterfly Effect 2

Not long after analyzing The Butterfly Effect, I became aware that there was a sequel entitled The Butterfly Effect 3--because I saw it listed as airing on late night cable, and recorded it.  However, since this was not on the order of a Naked Gun movie, the fact that there was a third suggested that there must have been a second, so I did not watch the third lest it rely on the second.  Finally, as I was looking for a different movie which seemed to have vanished from shelves at the local retailer, I stumbled on a copy of this one, and desperate for a time travel movie to analyze for this series I bought it.  It turned out to be more enjoyable than I had anticipated, although nearly everything bad that was said about the first movie seems to have been preserved in the second.  In any case, here is the analysis:

  1. A Sequel:  presents the original history as it appears in the film.
  2. Little Problems:  looks at the first altered history, and the basic problems that plague the time travel elements of the series.
  3. Imperfect Improvement:  moves us from the first altered history to the second altered history with the visit to the Christmas party.
  4. Pinning the Buttefly:  recognizes a point on which chaos theory ought to have wreaked havoc on events and somehow did not do so.
  5. Christmas Gifts:  examines everything that goes wrong in the penultimate history.
  6. Remarkable Memory:  steps away from the time travel itself to a peculiar issue, that Nick appears to remember the future that has not yet happened, despite not remembering the past that has.
  7. Double Trouble:  recalls another problem from the first film, in that Nick replaces a version of himself he has already replaced, and so we must wonder what happens to the version of him who came from the other future to create this one.
  8. Timing Flutters:  catches the film in an awkward temporal continuity error, in that something that could not have been impacted by Nick's travels is happening sooner than it did in the original history.
  9. Conclusions:  wraps up what can be guessed about the final history of the world following the end of the story.
We have since turned our attention to the third of the series, Butterfly Effect 3:  Revelations.

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Men in Black III

From the moment the movie was announced it created a stir:  what kind of nonsense would the Men in Black franchise promote with a time travel movie?  We announced it months in advance in Men in Black III remakes history, and again hours before it opened with Men in Black III May 25th U. S. debut midnight shows tonight, and then we managed to attend the film.  Here are the articles on that:

With the video release we now present a more complete analysis:
  1. Original History:  gives us the brief history of the world, including significant points in the first two movies, before any time travel occurs.
  2. Boris:  constructs the events which must have occurred when Boris makes his trip to 1969 and kills K, working up to the present in 2012.
  3. Extinction:  tries to unravel how the Boglodites can be extinct before 2012 if the Arc Net is what killed them, but only arrive at the planet in 2012 if it is not implemented.
  4. Deathtoll:  tries to make sense of Griffin the Arcanan's suggestion that "where there is death there will always be death" in connection with the moments in the film to which he was not applying it.
  5. Quibbles:  picks up the little questions, the genetic issue, the absence of a murder from the report, and the nature of the time travel itself.
  6. Memory:  attempts to find an explanation for why J remembers the history that never happened, and no one else does.
  7. Futures:  begins exploring Griffin's odd ability, based on statements he makes about possible futures.
  8. Disconnects:  continues exploring Griffin's abilities, seeking some explanation for why chocolate milk affects villain entrances or tips are connected to meteorite collisions.
  9. J:  covers the main outline of the history J creates by his leap to 1969.
  10. Boglodites:  returns to the question of how and when these aliens became extinct, determining that it must have happened in different ways in different histories.
  11. Loops:  looks at the most obvious predestination paradox and presents an explanation for it.
  12. Inconsistency:  considers the last anomaly, the one minute leap at Canaveral, looking for why it is different, and how it might work, and wrapping up the analysis of the film.

In conclusion, well, we didn't expect it to work, and we already observed that it doesn't, but it has given us a lot more unworkable nonsense for our dollar and proves to be a fun film.  Kudos particularly to Brolin's portrayal of the young K.

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S. Darko

If you can confuse enough people with a time travel element in a less-popular film, you can probably get them to come watch a sequel.  That seems to be the theory which led to the release of S. Darko, a time travel story following the life of the younger sister of the titular Donnie Darko, whose life was filled with a objects, ghosts, and messages traveling from the future.  Our analysis of that film was modestly favorable.  Although this sequel repeats many of the tropes of the original, it does so in original ways that make it much more complicated.  Thus we provide an analysis of Samantha's adventures in time travel.

  1. The sequel:  provides the necessary introductory background to the story.
  2. Unaltered:  attempts to recreate the lost original history of events.
  3. Ragnorak:  seeks to identify which "end of the world" is being predicted by Samantha's ghost.
  4. The book aside:  addresses the problem of whether Roberta Sparrow's book, as published on the Internet, ought to be considered an authoritative explanation of events within the movie.
  5. Drawing on memories:  discovers a serious problem with the sketch of the rabbit head Samantha inherited from Donnie.
  6. Change:  considers the first anomaly and the first altered version of history.
  7. Telepathy:  looks at how Corey prevents Sam's death by causing her own, and the problems that creates temporally.
  8. Timing chain:  finds a complication in the movement of objects outside Corey's control when she changes the conversational timing of her discussion with Sam.
  9. Sam's ghost:  finds a predestination paradox in the appearance of Sam's ghost because Sam dies twice.
  10. Haunting time:  considers such problems with the ghosts as how they manage to travel to times before their own deaths.
  11. Vortices:  looks at what the vortex does, and how that differs from the one in the original film.
  12. Incompatible deaths:  explains why Corey cannot save Sam.
  13. Ghost rewrite:  discusses issues in the history created by Samantha's ghost.
  14. First or last?:  tries to figure out which ghost of Sam released which Iraq Jack when.
  15. Justin time:  finds the final outcome of the last anomaly, as Jack rewrites history and removes himself from it.

In the end, it is a much more difficult and less satisfying movie than the original, although perhaps a bit less dark in its presented outcome, even though there is no clear path to reach that outcome.

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La Jetée

Almost from the moment the analysis of 12 Monkeys appeared on this site, correspondents have been saying that this obscure French art film was a must-see predecessor which inspired that remarkable work.  This work is not so remarkable, but La Jetée is a time travel film, and it has some points worth noting, although most of it has been pirated for more recent movies of one sort or another.

  1. Familiar:  gives an overview of the story, spoiling the surprise that is not a surprise anyway.
  2. Method:  faces questions concerning in what sense the traveler is in the past, and how that impacts the issues related to time travel.
  3. Predestination:  finds a subtle but critical predestination paradox in the fact that the man was chosen because he saw himself appear in the past, and thus the cause of him being chosen is him having been chosen.
  4. Repeat:  a single line in the film creates a serious problem for temporal analysis, as it appears the traveler may be replacing a previous version of himself in the past, and there does not seem to be a mechanism for this.
  5. Future:  shows how the trip to the future becomes a serious problem because of the corresponding trip to the past.
  6. Banes:  continues looking at the problems potentially caused by the trip from the future to the time traveler's own time, and in particular the gift he brings.
  7. Politics:  tackles a different probably disastrous effect of bringing technology from the future, this time based on who receives it.
  8. Endings:  wraps up the story with the several trips that interact with each other, and the problem of why they were made.
  9. Assassin:  discovers a final problem in the interaction between the assassin's arrival and the solution to the predestination paradox.
  10. Fixed time:  finds evidence within the film that it is not a fixed time story.
  11. It is not a movie to rush out and watch; if you have seen it, the analysis might help you spot points you missed, but if you have not, you'll have a pretty thorough understanding of it once you've read the series.


A slasher-style horror film with a time travel angle, Triangle was mentioned by readers.  Not being a fan of slasher films, I cannot say whether this one is any good as that; but as a time travel film, it is a horror.

  1. A horror:  recognizes the fundamental problems of the film and considers what approaches to time might work.
  2. Unseen horror:  attempts to recreate the original history, and finds a far worse story than the one we see.
  3. Why Jess?:  defends the conclusion that Jess was the survivor in the original history.
  4. Key problem:  tries to resolve why there is only one set of Jessie's keys aboard the ship, and how they got there if she does not have them when she boards.
  5. Watch the time:  discovers a less obvious problem with the fact that Jessie's watch and the ballroom clock agree with each other on a time different from Greg's watch.
  6. Out of ammo:  tries to make sense of the infinite availability of guns and ammo in a finite weapons locker, and other objects on the ship that appear to reset with each iteration, as against those which for some reason do not.
  7. Little mistakes:  pursues the issues of what does and does not accumulate, with some surprising inconsistencies.
  8. Birds and pendants:  looks at the discrepancy between the number of times she has hit the bird and the number of times she has fallen off the ship.
  9. Toward infinity:  looks at the problem of accumulation against the fact that the loop will never end.
  10. Suicide:  covers both the grandfather paradox and the infinite aging problem that happens when Jessie kills herself and replaces herself.
  11. Divergent dimensions:  considers whether the flaw in divergent dimension theory might be the solution to some of the problems here.
  12. More mess:  covers a few more of the problems in the film, and wraps up the analysis with a brief summary.

There are certainly better time travel movies out there.  Even most of the bad ones make more sense than this.

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Midnight in Paris

Woody Allen does time travel with Owen Wilson, and makes an interesting and enjoyable film with a clear point.  Midnight in Paris takes us to some of the most famous moments in one of the most famous of cities, introducing us to some of its most famous people, so that its main character can learn something about living in the past.

  1. Opening spoilers:  gives a basic overview of the story and most of the characters who pass through it.
  2. Inconsequential:  reconstructs his first trip to the past, and concludes that it probably did not have much risk of changing the future.
  3. Transport:  considers the problems created by a car picking up Gil and taking him to the past, and the possible resolutions of this incidental problem.
  4. Nostalgia:  looks at the potential damage caused by bringing the book back on his second trip.
  5. Manuscript:  takes a more in-depth look at the potential problems created by the manuscript being left in the past.
  6. Zelda:  considers the fact that Gil prevents the suicide of F. Scott Fitzgerald's wife Zelda, and seeks to understand the history of the world in which he was not there to do this.
  7. Rhinoceri:  faces the implications of Gil giving new ideas to the creative minds of the past, and the potential that their careers would take different directions impacting artistic expression in every field.
  8. Africa:  hits a serious snag, in that when Gil breaks Adriana's heart she lets Hemingway take her to Africa a decade too soon, which must have impacted Hemingway's writings thereafter.
  9. Journal:  looks at the remarkable coincidence of Gil finding Adriana's journal, and when she wrote what he read.
  10. Versailles:  covers the anomaly created by the detective's trip to a yet earlier era, and the significant object he takes with him.
  11. Return:  tries, unsuccessfully, to understand why sometimes people return to the future and other times they seem trapped in the past.
  12. Valium™:  considers the impact Gil has when he gives Zelda a modern medication, concluding that it is the impact on him more than on her that matters.
  13. Ballet:  considers the potential impact Adriana's work in 1890 would have, particularly on her own teacher Coco Chanel, and through that on herself.
  14. Finalities:  looks at the last remaining problems in the film, one of which is potentially fatal, and gives a final verdict on the story from a time travel perspective.
  15. Apart from the time travel, this was one of Allen's more enjoyable movies, as long as you can get past the fact that Owen Wilson seems to be playing Woody Allen.

Meet the Robinsons

Disney's Pixar productions are always well-made and usually entertaining, but how do they do with time travel?  Disney's The Kid was too much fantasy and not very well structured for analysis, but as we look at the new one, Meet the Robinsons, we find a lot of challenging ideas in an entertaining format.  The final verdict is--well, first, the details:

  1. Outline:  provides the storyline and initial framework, showing some of the problems up front.
  2. Identities:  goes deeper, showing how the characters in the past are connected to those in the future, and thus introducing some of the film's most serious problems.
  3. Starters:  attempts to construct the original history unaltered by any time travelers.
  4. Fran:  hits the complication of Lewis' future wife, who is on the cusp of vanishing from his life but for his knowledge of the future.
  5. Mom:  recognizes the problem created when Lewis successfully obtains the image of the face of his birth mother at the science fair (because he has not been sabotaged), and so is compelled to find her.
  6. Goob:  tries to resolve the disasters which occur when Goob attempts to destroy Lewis' future by stealing the time machine.
  7. Pursuit:  explains why and how Wilbur will make his trip to the past, and examines some of the problems of tracking someone backwards in time.
  8. Back:  takes Lewis to the future, with devastating consequences.
  9. Quirks:  looks at a few minor temporal issues in which changes in the future are significant to the past.
  10. Waves:  crashes into one of the least logical concepts in time travel, that of the future changing slowly in response to a change in history, and finds it is even less rational in this version.
  11. Poof:  is completely mystified by the abrupt unmaking of Doris.
  12. Baby:  covers the last couple of trips through time, but again hits a problem.
  13. Significance:  doubles back to discuss an implication that is a common error in time travel stories, and why even insignificant people are significant.

The film is laced with disasters that are overlooked in the name of a fun story.  It certainly is enjoyable, but don't expect it to make any sense at any point, at least from a time travel perspective.

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Bruce Willis appears in his third time travel movie, in this one playing an assassin whose career is slated to end with his older self, Willis, being killed by his younger self, Joseph Gordon-Levitt.  The action starts when he chooses not to let that happen, but the time travel gives us many interesting questions and problems.

  1. Kudos:  briefly introduces the film, noting a few actors who like star Bruce Willis have done multiple time travel movies, presenting the premise, and providing approximate dates for the setting.
  2. Premise:  explores the original history, then finds trouble in the basic concept, in that each trip to the past has to create a new history before there can be a next one.
  3. Messages:  faults the concept of sending messages to the older version of a person by injuring the younger version.
  4. Flashbacks:  brings out the aspect of memories appearing as actions within the film, and considers the problem with Old Joe's memories.
  5. Anomalous:  attempts to reconstruct earlier versions of history, and finds the predestination paradox.
  6. Destined:  explores the predestination paradox at the heart of the story, and attempts to provide a solution.
  7. Massacre:  considers the problems surrounding Old Joe's attack on Abe's organization, particularly as it relates to what Abe ought already to know.
  8. Retirement:  finds a problem at the future end, involving how the retirement decisions are made.
  9. Clockwork:  explores the complications involved in identifying safe sites and times for the victims to arrive, and the greater complications created by trying to fix problems that inevitably will occur.
  10. Notification:  considers the problem of information traveling from the future as separate from the sending of victims, and seeks a way of preventing the problem of two anomalies for every victim.
  11. Runners:  answers why runners are dangerous.
  12. Devastating:  looks at the impact Old Joe has when he destroys Abe's operation, focusing on the problems which occur if the records are destroyed, and the problems which occur if they are not.
  13. Inconsistent:  shows how the treatment of different events within the film do not match.
  14. Unchanged:  catches the discrepancy that some changes to a looper reach him in the future instantly, and others never do.
  15. Future:  looks at the problem with the premise from the perspective of the information reaching the future.

Although it is an enjoyable and exciting film, it fails repeatedly as a time travel story.

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H.G. Wells' The Time Machine

In 2002, the classic story The Time Machine was remade in a temporally disastrous version (analyzed here).  However, it had been made previously, in 1960 by George Pal, in a version a bit more faithful to the book.  At issue is the degree to which this earlier film version stands as a time travel story.  Thus here is our analysis.

  1. Disambiguation:  gives a brief background of the story as an introduction, including a few details of the journey itself.
  2. Motivation:  a problem in the remade version, this version also diverges from the book in presenting why the character (in this version, H. George Wells) makes the trip, although perhaps not so drastically.
  3. Method:  considers the problems involved in how the time machine appears to function, although it is a bit different in this case than in other films using the same type of machine.
  4. Reverse:  recognizes a more serious aspect to that means of travel if the time machine is moving through time backwards.
  5. Mannequin:  finds problems with the way the changing mannequin is presented in the movie.
  6. Erosion:  looks at complications which develop because of the suggestion that the time machine becomes trapped inside a cave created by a lava floe and has to wait for erosion to free it.
  7. Evolution:  crashes into the inconsistency that the isolated colony of morlocks have become inhuman but the isolated colony of eloi have remained quite the same.
  8. Anomaly:  addresses whether the film might be a fixed time story, and finds a reason to think otherwise.
  9. Alterations:  begins looking at what changes the time traveler might have caused with his return to his own time.
  10. Genetics:  considers the specific impact George will have on David Filby, who now knows the year of his death and might act differently because of this, which might in turn impact the future of the race in ways that are not significant to the race but highly so to the story.
  11. Arbitrary:  looks at the film's explanation of the division between morlocks and eloi, how and why it differs from the book, whether it is credible, and whether that is a problem for the story, as the series gives a final verdict.

The final verdict is that the story survives fairly well, if we accept its assumptions about evolution and war.  This one is temporally plausible.

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The Jacket

This film appeared on someone's list of the best time travel movies, so I bought a copy and put it on the list of films to watch.  There was no clamor for it, which is to some degree surprising because it is an interesting and enjoyable film with quite a few convolutions to catch the attention.  So the analysis was worth doing.

  1. Introduction:  manages to avoid spoilers while giving the setup for the story, introducing the problem that leads to the time travel events.
  2. Method:  explains how the time travel is accomplished, to the degree that this can be determined in this rather mysterious aspect of the film.
  3. Fixed time:  considers those parts of the story that a fixed time theory approach would resolve, and those which make fixed time impossible.
  4. Dimensions:  does the same for multiple dimension theory, allowing that some aspects could be resolved by it but others seemingly cannot.
  5. Replacement:  begins the analysis under replacement theory, with a starting point of what happens when Jack leaves his body in the past and travels to the future.
  6. Becker:  approaches the problem of Jack bringing names back to Doctor Becker that he only has because Becker remembers him bringing them to him.
  7. Babak:  tries to unravel the anomaly created when Jack tells Doctor Lorenson how to treat the patient he cannot know she is treating.
  8. Absurdities:  mentions those aspects of the film not related to time travel, mostly concerning law and medicine, which snapped our disbelief suspenders.
  9. Death:  addresses the problem of when and how Jack died, given that he made several trips to the future before hitting his head and thus must have left pasts in which he never recovered after exiting the drawer.
  10. Letter:  connects the head wound to the letter in a way that shows that Jack could not have discovered the injury in any history in which Jean did not receive and react to the letter he sent, and thus that most of what we see in the film could never have happened the way we see it.

It was an enjoyable film despite its problems, and well worth watching; but don't expect it to give any good lessons in how to craft a time travel story.

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Butterfly Effect 3:  Revelations

The promised promised analysis of the second sequel in the franchise has come to the top of the pile.  Having found serious problems with Butterfly Effect that were compounded and expanded in Butterfly Effect 2, we held little hope for this installment, and thus were not disappointed.

  1. Background:  gives a quick start on the franchise and the film, without spoilers.
  2. Competition:  explains the core problem, in that our time traveler does not realize he is working against another time traveler.
  3. Fire one:  talks about the first major change Sam makes to history, when he rescues his sister Jenna from the flames.
  4. Location:  finds an oddity in this film, in that the time traveler seems to reach his body where he needs it to be, instead of where it was at the time.
  5. Butterflies:  considers things that perhaps ought to have changed but did not.
  6. Rebecca:  looks at the first murder and Sam's effort to investigate it.
  7. Elizabeth:  investigates the second murder, and the impact it has on Sam.
  8. Loops:  raises the problem of how the killer knows to kill the people already killed.
  9. Anita:  deals with the killing and the unkilling of victim number three.
  10. Serial killer:  tries to make sense of how all those deaths managed to occur in the lost history.
  11. Flennons:  wonders why Sam does not recognize the significance of the appearance of Lonnie Flennons on the list of victims.
  12. Vicki:  considers whether the murderer made a mistake on this one.
  13. Fire two:  looks at the problem with Sam taking over himself in the same time period in which he previously did so.
  14. Endings:  finds the last act unsatisfactory and inconsistent with the rules used elsewhere in the film.
  15. Clarification:  addresses the memory problems, the details of what Sam does and does not remember following the changes Jenna makes to the past.

So that's the way it goes down--and down it goes, as a time travel film, joining its predecessors in the list of movies that failed to understand and follow even their own rules.

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Safety Not Guaranteed

This was a film which I had to find when I read about it, a clever low-budget story that starts with an ad in a magazine looking for a companion for traveling through time.  It proves to be a relatively enjoyable film about relationships, in which the plotline is mostly about whether or not the person who placed the ad is a nutcase, a liar with an agenda, or a genuine time traveler.  That being the mystery not revealed until the end of the film, it was difficult to discuss the time travel elements without spoiling the end--but we managed to keep that answer for the last article of the short series, so you have time to watch it before you get to that part

  1. Basics:  sets up the story, introduces the characters, and begins raising the questions.
  2. Before:  considers the claim made by Kenneth Calloway that he did this "only once before", and what impact he might have had if that claim is true.
  3. Changed:  examines the problem that the girl Belinda St. Sing, whom he claims was killed, is apparently alive, and whether as he asserts that might demonstrate that he indeed has, in the future, already traveled to the past.
  4. Unchanged:  the opposite side of that problem is that Darius wants to save her mother's life, which does not appear to have happened, and so we have to consider how that fits with the claim that Kenneth has already saved Belinda's life.
  5. Adventures:  concludes the series with a look at what happens in the future, or the past, based on the revelations of the ending.

It is not necessary for a film to involve actual time travel to raise time travel issues.  We have seen that with Terminator Salvation, and in other ways with movies like Next or Watchmen.  Here the time travel issue begins with whether time travel happens in the story or not, and explores consequences of how that is answered.

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The Philadelphia Experiment

1984 was a good year for time travel.  Terminator debuted, and Back to the Future and Star Trek IV:  The Voyage Home were only a year away, with more good movies the year after that.  Amidst all this was an improbable gem, a film about two experiments forty years apart both of which went horribly wrong and created a connection with each other.  It plays well as a fixed time story, but also can work as a replacement theory story.  Although it looks complicated, it was not that difficult to analyze--just a bit unexpected in places:

  1. The Story:  gives all the details relevant to the time travel aspects of the film.
  2. The Vortex:  attempts to make sense of the phenomenon which is the means of time travel.
  3. The Tower:  looks at the problem of how the tower, which landed in the future, got separated from the ship, which stayed in the past.
  4. History:  recreates the events of the history in which the time traveler did not come from the future.
  5. Jimmy:  looks at the disappearance of the one crewman and his presence on his ranch in the future.
  6. The Alternative:  considers the alternate version of history, in which the ship reappears on its own, creating another anomaly.
  7. Rewrite:  examines how the story falls into place once the time traveler does what he must do.
  8. What if?:  addresses possible alternatives to the analysis as presented.
  9. Complication:  finds another problem with another look at the vortex itself.

The sequel will follows below; it was a terrible disappointment.

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Time After Time

It was a clever idea for a time travel movie:  what if (as we see in the 1960's H. G. Wells' The Time Machine) H. G. Wells himself built a time machine?  To make it interesting, what if one of his friends was secretly Jack the Ripper, and used that time machine to escape to our time--to be followed by Wells, giving us two men out of time, one of whom is intent on capturing the other, who has become the latest modern serial killer?  Malcolm McDowell and Mary Steenbergen would both make another time travel movie (his Star Trek Generations, hers Back to the Future part III), but here they do an excellent job as Wells and his somewhat ditzy but very modern love interest.  How, though, does it do as a time travel story?  It is not without problems:

  1. The Story:  with spoilers, gives us the setup of the story.
  2. The Machine:  looks at some inconsistencies in how time travel appears to work.
  3. Recall:  gives us the shape of our original history, when Stevenson vanishes into the future and the machine does not return.
  4. Skipping:  asks what happens when Wells removes himself from time before becoming famous.
  5. Rushing:  notes the oddity that Wells hurries to catch up with Stevenson when, duh, he has a time machine.
  6. Complication:  creates a missing timeline based on what is known of the other histories.
  7. Victim:  looks at the short hop to Saturday night, the discovered newspaper, and the very odd thing Wells says to Amy.
  8. Victims:  attempts to reconstruct what the paper must have said in the original version.
  9. Marriages:  looks at the genetic problem created when Amy travels to the past with Wells.
  10. Books:  comes to the final, and perhaps biggest, problem, whether any of this impacted his writing.
  11. Saturday:  addresses the odd problem that Wells travels to a date beyond his date of return, creating a complication that the day he visits does not exist until he makes the return trip.
  12. Disassembled:  raises the question of what happens if Wells dismantles the time machine, which is his expressed intention before he leaves 1979 for 1893.

It might work as a fixed time theory film, but even here there's a problem.

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This film bothered me from the moment I saw it--a disaster wrapped in a disaster.  I did not expect I would ever tackle it, and nearly said as much.  But I saw a copy at a good price, and people did ask about it periodically, so I decided it would be worth discussing.  I did not, I think, expect it would be as complicated as this, but then, I also did not expect to be able to get it all covered so succinctly, either.

  1. Beginnings:  gives the essential overview.
  2. Gold:  looks at problems related to the robbery of the Confederacy.
  3. Decade:  talks about what did and did not happen in the ten years we skip.
  4. Detection:  considers the difficulties involved in detecting trips to the past, and why the system as described can't work.
  5. Recall:  remembers the problems with recall devices like this, as used also in Timeline.
  6. Crash:  finds problems with the Lyle Atwood case and its resolution.
  7. Cash:  finds more problems involving Atwood and McCord.
  8. Co-location:  nonsense about the same matter in the same space.
  9. Location:  the issue of where Walker lives in the original history, and under what circumstances he lives in the apartment.
  10. Parker:  covers the timelines involved in the Parker McComb partnership problem.
  11. Melissa:  the death of Melissa tells us something about the time travelers coming from the future that is neither obvious nor logical.
  12. Scar:  call it a temporal continuity error, but the scar on McCord's face doesn't seem to be there when it should be.
  13. Actress:  wondering why Melissa is able to reproduce perfectly a scene completely unknown to her after a serious upset.
  14. Risk:  presents the fundamental danger of a trip to the past intending to kill someone in the past because they are a problem in the future.
  15. Vanishing:  raises the question of whether McCord is right in saying that the death of the young Walker would mean the disappearance of his older self.
  16. Exploded:  wraps up the final history into the final disaster.

So put it down to a good excuse to watch Jean-Claude Van Damme in action, and an interesting exploration of some time travel issues, but not a great time travel film.

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The Philadelphia Experiment II

Having run out of excuses to delay the analysis of this disappointing sequel to The Philadelphia Experiment, I present an analysis of its multiple disasters:

  1. Background:  connects the new film to the old, and so fills in the details of the original history.
  2. Change:  gives us the history which replaces the original when (American) Mailer accidentally sends a stealth bomber to the 1943 German Luftwaffe.
  3. L...oops:  finds two serious flaws arising in the established premises of the film.
  4. Dave:  discusses whether there is any way for Dave Herdeg to be in this universe, dismissing most of the options.
  5. Dates:  explains why Longstreet's reasoning on Herdeg's arrival date should not make sense to him, and even more does not make sense to us.
  6. Vortex:  looks at why the (German) Mailer's time machine is different in kind from the other experiments.
  7. Place:  expresses confusion over why Herdeg arrives where he arrives, with what he has, and where he might have arrived instead.
  8. Trips:  addresses the problem of whether Herdeg and German Mailer travel back to 1943 as one trip to the past or as two separate trips, and the rationale and consequences of each view.
  9. Unborn:  asks whether it is at all logical for Mailer to dissolve when Mahler is killed, and why that does not happen to the bomber also.
  10. Mahler:  recognizes that the death of Mahler gives us a very complicated collection of four histories, each of which causes the next in sequence.
  11. Jess:  faces the genetic issue, brought into stark relief when we see Jess, the infertile freedom fighter against the NAZI empire, as a Little League Mom in the final history.

I hope you didn't waste good money on this movie; of course, I did, but then, I had to in order to tell you how bad it really is.

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About Time

This one was in the theatre in November 2013, and we touched on it then, and then did a quick temporal survey based on notes from the show in January.  We have no returned to it with a more complete look at this enjoyable but temporally complex and frustrating film.

  1. Background:  assumes you have read the previous articles and lays the groundwork for the time travel elements.
  2. Unembarrassed:  examines the first trip Tim makes to the past, attempting to determine the rules that govern time travel in the film.
  3. Memories:  raises the issue of what happens to the memories of the "other Tim", who lived through the events created by this version.
  4. Lotion:  looks at the second trip to the past, and finds that there is a new rule, and one of the first rules has been broken.
  5. Charlotte:  finds a significant problem with Tim's attitude toward the changes he has made and how they might impact his own future.
  6. Drama:  covers a lot of ground, including the first first meeting with Mary and the problems with the play that cause him to undo that tryst.
  7. Rupert:  hits the second and third first meetings with Mary, as Tim discovers that the girl that slipped away has fallen in love with someone else, so he changes her life to put himself back in her favor.
  8. Repeat:  considers the problem created when Tim returns to change actions in the past he has already changed in the past.
  9. Meeting:  looks at Tim's effort to avoid Charlotte, and his proposal to Mary--with questions about how even with time travel he managed to put together what he needed for that.
  10. Wedding:  covers the changes in Best Man, and wonders how Tim knows that Dad went back and redid his toast.
  11. Kit:  looks at the trips by which Tim attempts to fix his sister's life.
  12. Posy:  looks at the genetic problem the film demonstrates, and the extent to which it fails to apply the concept fully.
  13. Undone:  tackles the issue of how to undo a trip to the past when the trip to the past no longer needs to be made to have its effect.
  14. Prevention:  continues the issue of trying to undo a trip, and finds that what Tim does is inconsistent with the rest of the film.
  15. Reading:  what Dad does doesn't work the way we might anticipate, which Tim's trips to visit his father after the funeral illustrate.
  16. Interaction:  what would happen if two time travelers make trips if one of them undoes the other?
  17. Childhood:  notes the risk involved in the final trip to the past, which goes further than Tim had ever gone yet apparently did not change anything of consequence.

It is indeed a temporal disaster, not sticking with a consistent set of rules, but it is still an enjoyable movie.

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Free Birds

This one was also in the theatre in November 2013, and we touched on it then, with a quick temporal survey in December.  It is not at all a serious movie, but it is a time travel romp, so here is our more detailed analysis.

  1. Problems:  building on the previous articles, gives an overview of the major problems which are immediately apparent.
  2. Starters:  finds a plausible solution for the predestination paradox initiated by the Great Turkey.
  3. The Knob:  finds a way for Reggie and the doorknob to become part of the paradox.
  4. Hiccough:  addresses the problem involved in Reggie replacing the original Great Turkey.
  5. Visitors:  attempts to explain how Reggie could have visited himself from the future.
  6. Endings:  studies the major problems created by Reggie's final trip to the past.
  7. Coda:  speculates on the impact of Jake's final return to the past.

It was a fun movie, and suitable for kids, but not particularly high on the list of great time travel stories.

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X-Men:  Days of Future Past

We first mentioned this film in November (2013), when writing about films showing then, as the trailer was running.  We mentioned it again in a list of upcoming time travel films back in February, and in July gave a quick temporal survey.  There's not much to examine here, but it does present some interesting problems.

  1. Loops:  recognizes the immediate and obvious problem that occurs when someone successfully alters the past, eliminating his actions.
  2. Practice:  discusses the hidden problem with the time travel method, in the fact that no matter how many times it has been done, it has never been done before.
  3. Genes:  raises questions of science and history in whether the premise of a targeting system that can detect a supposed mutant gene has any credibility.
  4. Paralleling:  looks at the complication involved in the notion that the future and the past both continue as long as the time traveler is in the past.
  5. Disruption:  tries to come to grips with what happens when Wolverine, as time traveler, begins to lose touch with the past.
  6. Xavier:  finds several problems in the idea that the young Xavier resolves his problems by contacting his older self through Wolverine's mind.
  7. Memories:  concludes with the perennial problem of who remembers what when history has been altered.

Since a reader asked, I'll state that I do not think you have to have seen previous X-Men movies to be able to follow this one, although it might help to know who the characters are.  It is an exciting film, despite its flaws.

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Edge of Tomorrow

I had thought I would be analyzing this movie from an audio recording I made when I caught it in the theatre in June (2014), having made you aware of it as among this year's upcoming time travel films in February (2014), and doing a quick one-shot look at it in September from that viewing.  Fortuitously, a small amount of money fell into my hands, and I was able to acquire the DVD of this and the next, and hopefully there will be money for one after that.

  1. Introduction:  explains how the time travel gets started.
  2. Mechanism:  presents the film's pseudo-rational explanation for why the time travel happens.
  3. Blood:  finds a problem with the concept that the infected blood causes the time travel, and proposes a solution.
  4. Day:  examines the concept that the Omega "resets the day", and what explanation that might have.
  5. Muscles:  considers the problem with training in the concept of muscle memory, that what Cage practices one day he has not practiced before on the next.
  6. Memories:  addresses the complication created by the fact that Cage does not send his memories back at the right moment, and indeed in the last run does not ever send them back at all.
  7. Finale:  looks at the final reset ending the film, and in attempting to make sense of it finds that the situation has another major temporal wrinkle.
It was an enjoyable action film with an interesting time travel element--doubtful but not impossible given a few assumptions.

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Mr. Peabody & Sherman

It is a ridiculous cartoon movie and as such gives as many problems, of which the temporal ones are of some interest.  The series attempts to unravel these.

  1. Outline:  gives us a basic sketch of the story which introduces some of its problems.
  2. Previously:  considers the problem that many earlier trips are suggested, and deals with the issue of whether the Tower of Pisa might once not have been leaning.
  3. Priors:  continues to address the previous journeys we do not see in detail, with particular attention to the impact the time travelers might have had on van Gogh and Shakespeare.
  4. France:  examines the first trip we see in its entirety, as Peabody introduces Sherman to the decadence of Marie Antoinette's court and inadvertently stays into the French Revolution and the Reign of Terror before escaping.
  5. Penny:  considers the problems created when Sherman takes her first to meet Washington and then to become lost in ancient Egypt, and he returns to the present to enlist Peabody's aid.
  6. Egypt:  rescues Penny and takes the trio to the Italian Renaissance and Leonardo da Vinci, where they again cause potentially serious problems.
  7. Black hole:  discusses the next interruption in their journey and takes them back to Troy.
  8. Troy:  briefly considers the potential problems of their visit there and starts dealing with the final events of the film as Sherman and Penny leave Peabody in the past and head for the future to ask Peabody to help them rescue himself.
  9. Duplicated:  covers the issues related to meeting your own temporal doppelganger, and the first level of problems this should have created.
  10. Fused:  looks at what the movie suggests would happen if you touched your temporal doppelganger, why that is ridiculous, what disaster it would create if it did happen, and what should have occurred.
  11. Rift:  studies the impact of a temporal disaster in which persons are being pulled out of their rightful places in the past and dumped in the future.
  12. Snap:  critiques the nonsensical solution that is supposed to fix the rift by traveling to the future.
  13. Restoration:  discusses the problems and potential problems with the influence of the future on the past as seen in the ending.
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Long anticipated and well-worth seeing, the film derived from the classic Heinlein story All You Zombies is thought provoking and convoluted, improbable in the extreme, but well done overall.

  1. Early chronology:  introduces the film, identifies the major players, and begins the process of putting all the events we see in chronological order, up through the kidnapping of the baby.
  2. Late chronology:  concludes the temporal sequencing through the events furthest in the future.
  3. Sequence:  presents the events again, this time in the order in which the main character experienced them.
  4. Original history:  attempts to reconstruct everything that must have happened prior to the invention of time travel and the changes made by the various time travelers.
  5. Baby Jane:  tries to provide a solution to first predestination paradox, in the question of whence the original Jane came and where she went.
  6. The Father:  resolves the problem of the original father and the issue of Jane being a hermaphrodite.
  7. John:  brings John into the story as the replacement father for our second predestination paradox.
  8. Barkeep:  wrestles with where Barkeep comes from prior to the existence of Bomber.
  9. That bomb:  reconstructs the various iterations of the one bombing we actually observe, as various time travelers become involved and interact with each other from different points in the future.
  10. Capture:  concludes the series with the moment Barkeep kills Bomber, and the problem of whether or not that prevents the bombing of New York City a few days later.

It is a film almost impossible to discuss (even so much as we have done here) without spoilers, so it is recommended that you watch it before reading more.

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Project Almanac

Originally announced for 2014 as Welcome to Yesterday, the film got rescheduled and renamed.  Its promising premise led to some interesting ideas, but ultimately to some serious problems.

  1. Welcome:  introduces the premise and a sketch of the plot and the persons.
  2. Predestination:  looks at the overarching predestination paradox, that much of what happens in this story is dependent on the fact that it happened.
  3. Experiments:  considers some of the technobabble through the first successful experimental trip.
  4. Return:  attempts to understand how the time travelers return to the present.
  5. Butterflies:  praises the film's recognition of butterfly effects throughout.
  6. Doppelgangers:  begins to explore the film's treatment of temporal duplicates, and what happens if you come into contact with yourself.
  7. Substitution:  considers the clever idea of the time traveler replacing himself, as when Adam retook the test he failed, and the complications entailed in the execution.
  8. Replacement:  attempts to fathom the use of the trope in which a time traveler returning to the same point in timespace replaces himself instead of duplicating himself, and the ramifications of that in this story.
  9. Lottery:  looks at the nuances of how they manage to win the lottery, and the question of what would have happened had they decided to try to correct their mistake.
  10. Redo:  covers Lollapalooza, what David does to fix it, and what seems to be a temporal error in the time of his return.
  11. Disasters:  with the plane crash the first really bad thing that happens, up through the disappearance of Jessie Pierce.
  12. Disappearance:  attempts to make sense of how and why Jessie Pierce vanished when she encountered herself.
  13. Party:  finally takes seventeen-year-old David Raskin to his seventh birthday party, and explains why his plan to fix everything by destroying the time machine would not work.
  14. Reflection:  looks at the other major problem with the birthday party scene, showing that David cannot both see himself in the mirror and find a time machine in the basement.
  15. Irresolution:  finds a number of problems in the unsatisfactory ending, including the timing of David's return, the camera in the attic, and his seeming knowledge of events that have now never happened.

Worth watching, but very problematic.

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Temporal Anomalies Classics and Indices

We lost the Temporal Anomalies web site, but decided to rebuild all of that material, gradually, into new articles at The Examiner.  They are being called Temporal Anomalies Classics, but that we are also going to include Temporal Anomalies Indices, replacing the burgeoning index known as The Examiner Connection with a series of annual indices.

Temporal Anomalies Indices, a.k.a. The Examiner Connection:

  1. Index 2009:  the first of the set, beginning in June, 2009, with Primer, diverging to the Theory 101 section, then covering Star Trek (2009), Bender's Big Score, several Holiday Films with temporal elements, and the first Butterfly Effect movie in that franchise.
  2. Index 2010:  begins with the expanded look at the Terminator series upon the addition of Terminator Salvation, and continues with The Last Mimzy, The Lake House, The Time Traveler's Wife, Hot Tub Time Machine, and Premonition, and includes a couple of articles not directly related to a time travel analysis.
  3. Index 2011:  begins with Los Chronocrimines (that is, Timecrimes), followed by Timeline, A Sound of Thunder, Next, Frequently Asked Questions About Time Travel, Source Code, Warlock, and Blackadder Back & Forth, again with some time travel movie news and similar miscellaneous articles.
  4. Index 2012:  begins with Watchmen, followed by Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III (sometimes known as Turtles in Time), then 11 Minutes Ago, Butterfly Effect 2, S. Darko, La Jetée, Triangle, and Midnight in Paris, again with some time travel movie news and similar miscellaneous articles including the first of our (Some of) The Best of articles.
  5. Index 2013:  begins with Meet the Robinsons, followed by Men in Black III, then Looper, H. G. Wells' Time Machine, a digression into Temporal Theory 102, then The Jacket, Butterfly Effect 3:  Revelations, and Safety Not Guaranteed, again with some time travel movie news and similar miscellaneous articles including another of our (Some of) The Best of articles.
  6. Index 2014:  began with a classic, The Philadelphia Experiment, followed by Time After Time, TimeCop, The Philadelphia II, About Time, Free Birds, X-Men:  Days of Future Past, Edge of Tomorrow, and finally, carrying into 2015, Mr. Peabody & Sherman, again with some time travel movie news and similar miscellaneous articles including the third of our (Some of) The Best of articles.

Temporal Anomalies Classics:

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Other Articles

It happens that being Time Travel Movies Examiner is going to point me in other directions from time to time, and with the announcement of the anniversary showing--well, that's getting ahead of myself.  These are articles that are part of The Examiner work that are not directly related to another topic.

I expect there will be more such articles in the future; we'll see what comes.

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Still Ahead

The Freebirds analysis, promised when we posted its quick temporal survey, has begun posting, based on a single theatrical viewing and an audio recording.  As noted above, X-Men:  Days of Future Past is fully drafted, and we have an audio copy of Edge of Tomorrow in the hope of pursuing a similar treatment from our memory of the theatrical visit earlier this year.

I recently posted a list of time travel films known to be coming to theatres this year; some of those already have, and I am looking for the money to obtain copies of those I have not yet seen.

In response to a call to readers for more time travel movies, I received a very few responses including most of those and some others.  Land of the Lost (suggested by a reader) and 2046 (looked good, was cheap) are not time travel movies, and are dismissed accordingly (with comments as linked).

I looked at copies of Time Bandits, Timerider:  The Adventure of Lyle Swann, and a few others which were a bit more expensive at the moment, including the anime version of The Girl Who Leapt Through Time, which is priced outrageously high and has been made into a live action version under the title Time Traveller:  The Girl Who Leapt Through Time, considerably cheaper but still more than I paid for the other films, and I'm not certain whether the fans who want the one will be satisfied with the other (remakes are never the same, and details matter in time travel stories).

I am still not happy with the notion of catching the entire series of those which decided to use time travel in a later installment.  I saw the first Spy Kids, but do not really want to invest the viewing in the others to reach Spy Kids:  All the Time in the World.  Similarly, I am less than enthusiastic about trying to do Shrek 4 or Cinderella 3, as I would probably have to acquire and watch all the prequels, and I barely managed to get through the first Shrek (although John Lithgow's interrogation of the Gingerbread Man was excellent).  I also found the first Austin Powers movie more offensive than funny, and was offended by the title of the second, but I gather all three involve time travel so I might have to tackle them at some point.

I am told that there is time travel in the two-movie set Insidious, in that in the second film the characters interfere with events in the first.  I am not a horror film fan, and a story that spans two movies which only gets to the time travel aspects in the second sounds like a lot of time (two hundred nine minutes by the IMDB report) and work (not to mention an unnecessary expenditure), but if there are fans for it out there I might look for it.  Maybe it will be available in a cheap two-disc package.  I also see that a third installment is due in 2015, so it might turn into a time travel series like Terminator or Back to the Future.

There is still no update available on Isaac Asimov's The End of Eternity.  Someone recommended Crusade:  A March Through Time, but IMDB does not have any film listed under anything near enough that title for me to find it.  I have a copy of Galaxy Quest somewhere, with its thirteen-second time loop, which might be worth examining despite the fact that it's a very small part of the film and a temporal disaster on top of that.

If you would like to see a movie analyzed, the first step is to check here, and particularly also on the other films page for whether anything has been said about it already.  The second step is to drop me a note by e-mail or Examiner site or Facebook comment asking about it.  If you're really serious, send me a copy of it, and it will be added to the pile with preference.  If I do not respond to comments within a week or e-mail within two weeks, something went wrong and you should try again.

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