Top 10 Movies with Alternate Realities

Script Written by Nathan Sharp. What is reality? We’ll leave that to the philosophers to debate. Join WatchMojo.com as we count down our picks for the top 10 movies with alternate realities. For this list, we’re looking at films in which the characters live in the same reality as us but are thrown into an alternate timeline altogether, changing what is considered real for the characters or their world. Confused yet? We’re just getting started. Special thanks to our users MikeyP, sarahjessicaparkerth, nerdvana64, Ethan Williams, Ron Bacani, Cory Markwick, blakeusoris101 and Miika Soini for submitting the idea on our Suggestion Tool at WatchMojo.comsuggest
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Top 10 Movies with Alternate Realities


What is reality? We’ll leave that to the philosophers to debate. Welcome to WatchMojo.com, and today we’re counting down our picks for the top 10 movies with alternate realities.

For this list, we’re looking at films in which the characters live in the same reality as us but are thrown into an alternate timeline altogether, changing what is considered real for the characters or their world. Confused yet? We’re just getting started. And we’re excluding films which present a fabricated history to the viewer, such as “Watchmen,” as those timelines are considered normal for that movie.

#10: Alternate Self
“The One” (2001)

Have you ever heard of the multiverse theory? In this film, Jet Li plays Gabriel Yulaw, an officer who is supposed to police the act of traveling within dimensions until he decides he must eliminate all other existing versions of himself to become “The One.” What makes the movie particularly fun is that we get to see Jet Li portray two versions of the same person, and it raises questions about the implications and possibilities of alternate universes. We have to admit that just the concept of meeting another version of yourself is already intriguing, albeit mind-blowing, but what do you expect from a sci-fi martial arts action flick?

#9: Two Different Paths
“Sliding Doors” (1998)

Everyone wonders what would have happened if they made the other decision instead of the one they chose, and this movie shows both sides for the main character Helen. Depicting parallel universes in which Helen either misses or catches a train and the results of that fateful action, “Sliding Doors” brings to life a concept that everyone wonders about. Great cast performances make it entertaining to watch how Helen’s separate lives differ, all while raising philosophical questions about fate and free will. Not bad for a romantic comedy.

#8: The Thirty-Year Talk
“Frequency” (2000)

In this sci-fi thriller, a father and son talk through a radio – almost 3 decades after the father has “died.” In the proper timeline, John’s father Frank has died in a fire, but when John is able to contact Frank a day before his death, he alters the timeline and saves Frank’s life. However, this naturally leads to a whole slew other of complications and new timelines, in which father and son must try to prevent other murders, their deaths in other ways and more. “Frequency” was praised for its idea and screenplay, with many critics calling it unpredictable. The interactions between Frank and John in the past and present were particularly strong and effective in bringing the film’s multiple realities to life.

#7: Looping
“Looper” (2012)

The year is 2074, and time travel has been invented. In this action thriller, it is used by criminal organizations to send targets back in time to be killed by “loopers.” Main character Joe faces a problem when his older self is sent back to be killed, which means he has to hunt his future self down. “Looper” is an innovative and refreshing storyline for a movie industry with increasingly less originality, and the twist at the end alters the future of the story in an unpredictable and surprising way. It’s bound to be a future science fiction classic.

#6: See How the Other Half Lives
“The Family Man” (2000)

To see how the other half lives: it’s an old saying, and one this film explores in depth. When rich Wall Street exec Jack wakes up in an alternate reality, he realizes that he is living the life he could’ve had, had he made different decisions in the past. Featuring great performances by Nicolas Cage and Tea Leoni, this romantic comedy is funny and heartfelt, but it also has a great message; reminding us that there is more to life than a little money and luxury.

#5: Reverse Action
“Donnie Darko” (2001)

This film may be confusing, but it no doubt leaves viewers feeling as if they’ve seen something special. Following titular teenager Donnie Darko as he is given a prophecy that the world will end in 28 days, this supernatural drama reverses the entirety of the story at its end, voiding any form of plot development or interactions the characters had with each other. Or does it? While the alternate timeline leaves you scratching your head, the film’s imagery, music, and powerful performances make it memorable and enticing nonetheless.

#4: The Butterfly Effect
“The Butterfly Effect” (2004)

This dramatic thriller stars an unusually dramatic Ashton Kutcher as a man who can travel back into his childhood mind through his diary and alter events from his past. Of course, things never go right, and many alternate realities are created due to the changes he has made by going back in time. While the science fantasy is bleak, filled with terrifying imagery and depressing situations, the concept of changing events from your childhood is titillating and certainly makes for one captivating story.

#3: Elder Spock
“Star Trek” (2009)

While it’s entertaining watching Kirk and his team stop Nero, a time traveling Romulan, from destroying planets, it’s the encounter with Leonard Nimoy’s Spock Prime in this “Star Trek” reboot which garnered much attention. Turns out Spock came from the future when a black hole was blasted in the space-time continuum. When Nero, who came with Spock from the future, confronted Kirk’s father’s ship, he changed reality and created an alternate timeline separate from the old Star Trek universe. The sci-fi action flick is a great nod to the original series, and this plot point an ingenious way to incorporate the reboot into the “Star Trek” canon.

#2: Dystopic Hill Valley
“Back to the Future Part II” (1989)

Time travel can be dangerous business, as Marty and his gang finds out in this “Back to the Future” sequel. When Marty travels to 2015, future antagonist Biff takes a sports almanac back through time to his 1955 self to make himself rich by betting on sports – and it works; he becomes very powerful. This results in the 1985 timeline becoming a dystopia, filled with drive-by killings and a vandalized city, among other atrocities. The visuals are dark, and the storyline even darker. “Part II” may be a more morbid side for the franchise, but it’s not an unwelcome one.

Before we take a look at our top pick, here are a few honorable mentions.
- “X-Men: The Last Stand” Never Happened
“X-Men: Days of Future Past” (2014)
- Ogres Are Feared
“Shrek Forever After” (2010)
- Parallel Dinner Party
“Coherence” (2013)

#1: Life Without George
“It’s a Wonderful Life” (1946)

This film is nearly 70 years old, but it’s still played on television stations across the world every year, signifying its true classic status. The fantasy comedy stars James Stewart as George Bailey, a frustrated businessman who is given the opportunity to see what life would have been like for others had he never existed. It’s a great movie for the holidays, but it’s also a philosophical and spiritual tale, filled with some delightful moments and a life-affirming message. You know what they say: it’s an oldie but a goodie.

Do you agree with our list? What’s your favorite movie featuring an alternate reality? For more alternative Top 10s published every day, be sure to subscribe to WatchMojo.com.
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