The Best Time Travel Movies & TV Shows Of 2022 (So Far) – Screen Rant

2022 is seemingly the year of time travel when it comes to movies and TV shows, but which has been the best so far?
Stories that surround time travel and time loops are a popular convention in media, and seemingly even more so in 2022, as seen with the just-released Paper Girls on Amazon Prime and also The Adam Project on Netflix.
Unlike the (un)lucky protagonists of these stories, viewers have only so many available hours in the day, and it can feel like a waste of time to sit through a story that doesn’t work towards something interesting. Whether it analyses the angles in time travel mechanics or uses it as a moment for existential ideas, 2022 contains a lot of great movies and TV shows that deserve to be watched, so those looking for something specific can jump straight into what they are looking for.
Paper Girls is Stand By Me on a time travel road trip and with the tiniest dose of Pacific Rim. Directed by Stephany Folsom and based on the comic book by Brian K. Vaughan, the Amazon Prime series follows four young girls — Erin Tieng (Riley Lai Nelet), Tiffany Quilkin (Camryn Jones), Mac Coyle (Sofia Rosinsky), and KJ Brandman (Fina Strazza) — delivering newspapers in 1988 before they are suddenly involved in a time-traveling conflict in 2019.
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Time is a method in which the characters face existentialism in the meaning of their future, and rectify the damage held by past selves. In one of the best subplots early in the series, Mac meets the older version of her brother and slowly comes to terms with not only her future but the fact that she hasn’t matured enough to realize the abuse she’s going through. The time-twisting adventure is a vehicle for action to occur too of course, but it’s those elements of Stand By Me — the relationship between four growing girls sharing their conflicts together — that are the true core of the show.
Directed by Shawn Levy, it follows an Adam from 2050 (Ryan Reynolds) with his younger self (Walker Scobell) on an adventure to save the future from the disaster it already is.
The Adam Project is to time-traveling sci-fi what Real Steel is for boxing movies — it has some fun ideas, a decent execution, a wise-cracking child and doesn’t try to wow with anything new. It’s a fun action flick pretending to be sci-fi, with Reynolds doing his Deadpool act without the fourth-wall humor. There’s sincerity to the bond between the two Adams and their father (Mark Ruffalo), with whom they haven’t had enough time to bond, but little else. It has no concerns with doing anything more than having fun and will please anyone trying to fill 90 minutes.
Karmalink is a uniquely Buddhist take on the metaphysical concepts surrounding time for a spiritual spectacle directed by Jake Watchel and co-written with Christopher Larsen. The directorial debut gained its limited theatre release this year after being loved at 2021 film festivals and focuses on a 13-year-old orphan from a near-futuristic version of Phom Penh, Cambodia, searching for a golden Buddha statue.
It shows the beautiful lives of its poor citizens, as well as the divide between it and the rich population, exploring gentrification, technological alienation, neo-colonialism, and its terrible effects on a warm little community. Its story is grounded, with a touch of The Goonies, and surrounded by colorful cinematography that compliments Cambodian culture and beauty. It greatly deals with typically associated sci-fi themes, but it’s the celebration of its environment and the seemingly uncontrollable forces changing it that truly makes it a great addition to its genre.
Made by the minds of BoJack Horseman, the Amazon Prime series continues its psychedelic time trip from the first season with Alma (Rosa Salazar), Becca (Angelique Cabral), and Jacob (Bob Odenkirk).
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Fan theories speculate on the legitimacy of its time travel, but regardless, the method is used to examine the damage dealt by war, racism, mental health, and inherited pain after trauma. Season two goes further than season one in examining the histories of Alma’s parents and grandparents, and what eventually leads to the negative characteristics of the protagonists. It’s less so a time travel mystery, as much as it is using it as a method to brilliantly dissect the problems that can occur while immigrating and the ripple effects it causes.
The Sky-exclusive British action drama was directed by Marco Kreuzpaintner, Laura Scrivano, and Akaash Meeda, and stars Paapa Essiedu as George, who’s awakened his ability to see time loops and is invited into an organization formed to use the loops to prevent world-ending disasters. It’s nowhere close to the comedy of Groundhog Day or Palm Springs, instead looking closer into the damage it inflicts more than those films do.
It explores the ethics and emotional damage within its specific systems and grounds them in the stories of each of its cast members, posing scenarios that prompt audiences to consider which is the more moral choice. Watching characters deal with the erasing existence of a child, the stress and pain of reliving childbirth over and over and over again, or watching characters make sacrifices for the most saved lives possible — it’s a level of empathy felt from the other side of the screen. It’s an underrated little gem that demands the attention of any sci-fi fan.
Based on a podcast by Daniel Powell and Marc Sollinger, the found-footage horror show switches perspectives between film archivist Dan Turner (Momoudou Athie) and documentarian Melody Pendras (Dina Shihabi) as they both discover the bizarre cult within the Visser building in Lower Manhattan.
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Creator Rebecca Sonnenshine weaves a uniquely unsettling version of time travel. The perspectives between Dan and Melody initially seem separate from each other, but the mystery of its time travel through found footage latches onto the viewer as its steadily revealed. It’s a slow binge that’s more ‘creepy’ than outright shocking, but it’s a great watch for anyone interested in a series happy to pace itself, and separates itself from other found-footage horrors by the time-distorting connection between Melody and Dan.
The superhero show, created by Steve Blackman and based on the comic book by Gerard Way and Gabriel Bá, gained some good faith for its great LGBTQ+ arc with Viktor Hargreeves (Elliot Page) and continues the story from its well-received second season of a dysfunctional family trying to get their lives back.
This season hardly delves into time travel compared to its previous seasons, but still uses it in a way to delve into the reparation and breaking of familial connections. Klaus (Robert Sheehan) has been great at every step of the series but is particularly strong here for using this alternate timeline as a second chance to grow closer with their father Reginald (Colm Feore). It’s a story as heartbreaking as it is heartwarming, setting up for another season of reality-bending adventures to come.
The humorous original season didn’t seem like it was prime material for a second series, but regardless it abandons its time-looping narrative in favor of changing family history in the past. It stars the Orange Is The New Black favorite Natasha Lyonne, who co-created the show along with Leslye Headland and Amy Poehler of Parks And Recreation fame.
Just as with the first season, Lyonne can carry the entire show by herself through her great acting and character work, but it follows a great story as she dives into her family history. But unlike Undone, Lyonne’s character of Nadia lives directly in the shoes of her Jewish Hungarian ancestors and faces the reality of the impossibility to change time and how she needs to live with it. It’s a story of acceptance, but with the same humor, it carried its first season. And even if it won’t be as charming a surprise as the original, it’s still worth a watch.
NEXT: 10 Best Movies Of 2022 (So Far) According To Letterboxd
Kevin Brandon Farnan (He/Him) is a Movie/TV list writer for Screen Rant and a former freelance writer for That’s TV Salford in the UK. After graduating in Multimedia Journalism at Bournemouth University in 2016, Brandon’s taken a number of opportunities to write and present for local radio stations and newspapers. He’s established himself in writing articles predominantly on LGBTQ+ issues (especially the rights of transgender people), British and Mexican politics, and mental health. When he isn’t obsessing over the latest shows, Brandon will talk about current events or what is secretly his biggest obsession: E-Sports in the fighting game community. Growing up, Ace Attorney and being a fighting game spectator was Brandon’s lifeblood. Nowadays, he’s happy to tell people what they should think in his cozy corner of Screen Rant, or occasionally on Medium: https://medium.com/@brandonfarnan

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