The Spierig Brothers’ time travel thriller Predestination hits theaters at the end of this week (we’ll have a full review to accompany the release). While we hope many of you go see it, as it’s totally worth a few hours of your life, we think that a lot of people may sit this one out. After all, January can be a rough month at the theater, quality wise. Though the film is being marketed as a time-hopping crime story in the vein of Minority Report and TimeCop, that’s not what you’re going to see. Deliberately paced, continually shifting perspectives, and inherently weird, Predestination feels like a movie that the distributor has no idea how to sell, and as a result we’re afraid that this will fall into a category of films that, while excellent, are totally underappreciated. And in that spirit, we’d like to take the opportunity to explore some of our favorite under-the-radar time travel movies.
This weekend saw the release of mega-star Tom Cruise’s latest science fiction actioner, Edge of Tomorrow. From the box office numbers, not nearly as many of you went to see is as should have since it only managed third place (though it did top $100 million worldwide, so there’s hope). We here at GFR are in total agreement that it is one of the best movies of the summer, a fantastic mix of action, dark humor, invading aliens, and Tom Cruise dying in a many, many ways. Before you read on, you should step away from your computer and go watch this movie. Maybe buy an extra ticket while you’re at it, just to tell Hollywood that they need to keep making movies like this. Doug Liman’s film is one that wears its influences on its sleeve. As you watch, you notice a variety of scenes and elements that definitely call to mind other notable genre movies. In that spirit, we’ve put together a list of movies to watch, or most likely re-watch, after you see Edge of Tomorrow repeatedly.
We’ve seen some really cool things done with the concept of the so-called “minimalist poster.” The challenge of reducing something down to its essence, represented in as simple a visual as possible, can be both challenging and fun. That’s the same basic idea behind these clever little time travel charts put together by the folks at Buzzfeed. They distill a bunch of classic (and a few more obscure) time travel flicks down to a basic representation of the time travel itself: are people going back or forward, or both? Sometimes it’s pretty straightforward, like this one for the Jennifer Garner comedy 13 Going on 30.
With another Christmas marked off of the calendar, many people are spending the day traveling, whether packed into a commuter plane, road-tripping back home, or maybe even using some sort of wormhole-based teleportation device. And sure, I’m sure most of the travelers out there have only one destination in mind — home — you might want to consider taking a detour to some of the world’s more exciting locations. Oh, but they’re also fictional. Should I have mentioned that first?
These snazzy retro-style travel posters are the work of artist Justin Van Genderen, part of a project he calls “location . location . location.” The films referenced in the series range from old classics like Casablanca and Lawrence of Arabia to more recent fare such as The Avengers and J.J. Abrams’ Star Trek reboot. In addition to that latter one, he has several other science fiction films included in the bunch, and we’re highlighting them here.
One of the most surprising science fiction hits from 2012 was writer/director Rian Johnson’s Looper. Johnson has always been a good source for smart, entertaining movies, like his previous films Brick and The Brothers Bloom, but the time traveling action film really elevated (no pun intended) his game. The story of a hit man sent back in time to be executed by his younger self, captured the imagination of genre fans and general audiences alike. Now that it’s out on home video, Looper can find a new audience to entertain.
Strangely, one of the sets from Johnson’s film is still on location, seemingly abandoned by Looper’s production team. The diner, where the young Joe (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) meets with his older self (Bruce Willis), remains in the middle of an open field along Highway 1010 near Napoleonville, Louisiana. A majority of the film was shot in New Orleans, which doubled for Kansas City in the year 2042. Looper also filmed in Shanghai, as a co-production with the Chinese company DMG Entertainment.
During principle photography, while the production team was building, many of the locals asked when the new restaurant was going to open for business. This is understandable considering how much the structure resembles a real-life diner, rather than a film set. While the diner never served actual flapjacks or coffee, it did showcase one of the more thrilling action sequences between young Joe and old Joe.
The diner is the location of one of the most memorable moments in Looper, where future Joe tells his present day self not to spend too much time thinking about the technical aspects of time travel. This scene also warns audiences not to be consumed with the mechanics of time travel, but rather to just enjoy the story as it unfolds. This is a brilliant piece of writing from Johnson, if you ask me.
One Looper fan took the time to track down the leftover set. Bailee Grissom, a student from New Orleans, traveled far and wide through back roads and highways trying to find the diner. When she eventually stumbled upon the location, she was surprised to see that it was in such good condition. Although the doors were locked, Grissom took a few snapshots through the windows and doors. She even tweeted them to Rian Johnson, who in turn posted the photos on the official Looper tumblr.
Considering the location and preserved condition, it’s curious to think if someone would want to open an actual diner in the existing set. New owners could easily make it a great off-the-beaten-path tourist destination, and advertise it as a location from the film.
Grissom posted the set’s coordinates on Google Maps, so other fans can experience a piece of movie history for themselves. Watch the diner face-off scene from Looper below:
Rian Johnson’s Looper is one of the best science fiction movies in recent memory. The film seamlessly blends digital special effects into the frames to create a futuristic world where extreme poverty and class strife run rampant, and some people have developed telekinetic powers, able to move things with the power of their mind. This pair of videos illustrates the process that went into creating what, on the surface, look like simple visual effects.