Retrospective: Top 5 Time Loop Movies | Casey's Movie Mania | Movie Reviews, Features & Others

Thursday, 22 May 2014

Retrospective: Top 5 Time Loop Movies

Retrospective: Top 5 Time Loop Movies

Imagine one day you wake up tomorrow and surprised to find out that you're stuck on the same day as yesterday. You go through the motion and no matter what you do, you still end up in the same day over and over again. This scenario is commonly known as "time loop", a popular plot device often seen in sci-fi genre or to a certain extent, comedy and thriller genre as well. Such movie that uses the similar plot device is Doug Liman's highly anticipated sci-fi blockbuster called EDGE OF TOMORROW, which starred Tom Cruise and Emily Blunt.

To celebrate for the upcoming movie due on May 29, here are my personal picks for "Top 5 Time Loop Movies" throughout the decades:


1. GROUNDHOG DAY (1993)

Retrospective: Top 5 Time Loop Movies (1. GROUNDHOG DAY)

No time loop movie would ever go unnoticed without nary a mention of the late Harold Ramis' high-concept comic masterpiece, GROUNDHOG DAY. The premise here was unforgettable: Bill Murray -- in one of his best comic performances ever seen -- plays TV weatherman Phil who is sent to Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania to cover the Groundhog Day festival. But what happened next was a case of a bizarre scenario where he found himself waking up the next morning at the same Groundhog Day again! GROUNDHOG DAY was particularly engaging and original, thanks to winning performance from Bill Murray and of course, the way director Harold Ramis creatively used the time loop element to great comic effect (such as how Phil tried all sort of ways to commit suicide just for the sake to change the day). Not to forget also was some of the genuinely wonderful moments in the movie where Phil tries to win over Rita's (Andie MacDowell) heart in various manners. If you haven't seen it before, do yourself a favour and watch it already.

2. RETROACTIVE (1997)

Retrospective: Top 5 Time Loop Movies (2. RETROACTIVE)

A weird but entertaining hybrid of road movie, crime thriller and black comedy with a GROUNDHOG DAY-like sci-fi undertone, RETROACTIVE began with a government scientist named Brian (Frank Whaley) who invented the machine that able to reverse time for certain periods. Elsewhere, former police psychiatrist Karen (Kylie Travis) was on the road when her car broke down. Fortunately, she is picked up by Frank (James Belushi), a small-time thief, and his quiet wife Rayanne (Shannon Whirry). Then things got messy when Frank learned about Rayanne's affair with another man and shot her to death. Karen quickly escaped into Brian's lab.and found herself caught in a test run which sent her 20 minutes into the past. From there, the same scenario repeated as Karen tried her best to save Rayanne but only to make things worse at each passing time. Kylie Travis gave a solid performance as the no-nonsense Karen, while James Belushi was annoying but playful enough as the slimy Frank. But it was former softcore star Shannon Whirry who surprises the most with her perfectly restrained performance as the mousy Rayanne. Louis Morneau's direction was fun and engaging, while the action sequences (particularly the car stunts) were technically impressive for a B-movie.

3. RUN LOLA RUN (1998)

Retrospective: Top 5 Time Loop Movies (3. RUN LOLA RUN)

The name of Tom Tykwer might not sound familiar to many mainstream viewers but he's the one who co-directed with the Wachowski siblings in 2012's CLOUD ATLAS. He also is known for the controversial PERFUME: THE STORY OF A MURDERER in 2006. But to me, he's forever well-known for his groundbreaking effort in 1998's RUN LOLA RUN. The premise for this movie was actually simple: a pick-up kid named Manni (Moritz Bleibtreu) just messed up a job to deliver the moneybag for a small-time crime lord. His only hope was his girlfriend, Lola (Franka Potente in her famous red-haired appearance) who must find a way to cough up 100,000 Deutschmark in 20 minutes or he'll die. But it's the way Tykwer toyed with the genre convention that made RUN LOLA RUN so compulsively watchable. The same story was told three times over that each ended with a different outcome and different ending as we learned whether Lola successfully made it on time or not. An innovative movie gem not to be missed.

4. TRIANGLE (2009)

Retrospective: Top 5 Time Loop Movies (4. TRIANGLE)

British writer-director Christoper Smith has made a career directing horror features with two violent slashers -- 2004's CREEP and 2006's SEVERANCE. But his third feature on TRIANGLE was easily his best effort to date. Mixing Twilight Zone-like supernatural genre with creepy references from Stanley Kubrick's THE SHINING and the Bermuda Triangle mystery, TRIANGLE centres on a depressed single mother Jess (Melissa George) and a small group of friends who suffered from an ill-fated sailing trip after a freak storm capsized the yacht. Fortunately, they thought they were lucky enough to stumble upon a passing ocean liner. But not for Jess, who had a strange feeling that she's been here before. Soon a mysterious hooded figure came hunting them down one by one, where each event was repeated on a time loop. Apart from Christopher Smith's captivating direction and his tightly-constructed screenplay that kept the viewers guessing until the twisty finale, Melissa George (best known as Lauren Reed in TV's Alias) pulled off a particularly fearless performance as Jess. Even though the movie failed to provide a satisfying explanation in the finale, TRIANGLE remained creepy and fascinating enough to watch for.

5. SOURCE CODE (2011)

Retrospective: Top 5 Time Loop Movies (5. SOURCE CODE)

Duncan Jones' sophomore follow-up to his 2009's highly-acclaimed MOON was a complex but fascinating mind-bender that mixes sci-fi genre convention with GROUNDHOG DAY-like premise. In SOURCE CODE, Jake Gyllenhaal plays Colter Stevens, who found himself waking up in a commuter train en route to Chicago. He sat beside a beautiful woman named Christina Warren (Michelle Monaghan), who kept him calling him Sean. Then eight minutes later, everybody aboard the train died in an explosion from a planted bomb. However, Colter woke up again except this time, he was in a dark room being strapped to a seat. Soon, he realised he was part of a mysterious program called the "Source Code", where he is required to relive the same eight minutes of someone else's life over and over again to find out who bombed a commuter train in Chicago that fateful morning. SOURCE CODE had its several flaws, particularly during the final third act but it remained one of the most exciting sci-fi thrillers which cleverly utilised the time loop element.

Can Doug Liman, the once-promising Hollywood director who found mainstream successes in THE BOURNE IDENTITY and MR. & MRS. SMITH, able to stage a successful comeback in EDGE OF TOMORROW? Be sure to check back tomorrow on May 23 for my exclusive review of EDGE OF TOMORROW! 

No comments: