While the adventure genre seemingly appears in almost all kinds of movies, the best adventure movies are hard to beat. Whether they are action-adventure, war adventure, or science-fiction adventure, these movies are easily breaking box office records.
The best adventure movies are the ones that take you on a hero’s journey and bring you back in piece except with a changed heart. Unlike the best horror movies or thrillers you watch on Netflix, adventure movies give viewers courage, strength, and most of all, hope to go on when all seems lost.
It is the best movie for kids, parents, and even lovers for it is the best option when the heated debate on what to watch on Friday night comes up.
In this piece, I will give you some of the very best adventure movies. No not the adventure movies that are boring and puts you to sleep.
But the ones that get your blood pumping and heart racing a thousand miles per second. The ones that you will be talking to your friends about for weeks.
Lord of the Rings Series
Director: Peter Jackson
Cast: Elijah Wood, Viggo Mortensen, Orlando Bloom, Ian McKellen
The Lord of the Rings saga, the best fantasy adventure movies is like the prime example of real adventure movies.
It takes you to fantastical middle earth where wizards and ogres, gnomes. But after watching GOT I was reassured that our species do not stop at today’s humans.
In the fantasy middle earth, the evil wizard Sauron creates 20 rings to corrupt the souls of the humans on middle Earth. But he is defeated in the battle and his ring is lost.
This is the ring that makes people break down and go bonkers. Of course except for our main hero Frodo because he has got help from the second-best wizard in the realm Gandalf.
The ring changes masters a few times before it gets destroyed eventually.
Apart from this incredible one of a kind plot and characterization. The movie is also full of exhilarating ventures, perilous journeys, and Gandalf’s grey hair occupying a quarter of your screen. 😅
“My precious” is probably the line that is as popular if not more popular than “I will be back”. That speaks for the movie’s impact on popular culture and on its fans. It is the best adventure movie ever made, period.
Pirates Of The Caribbean First Three Movies (2003-2007)
Director: Gore Verbinski
Cast: Johnny Depp, Keira Knightley, Orlando Bloom, Geoffrey Rush
There is not enough talk that could go on about the pirates of the caribbean that will explain and show how much of an incredible movie it had turned out to be, especially the first three.
Obviously they broke the character Jack by bringing imposter Jack, in the fifth movie “Dead Men Tell No Tales”.
The fans understand what I am talking about, the real Jack from the first movie was a dimensional character.
Okay let us stop talking about the top adventure movies that are not good, and get to talk about the ones that actually are.
The first three of the top adventure movies, with unique villains and the heroes, always going up against high-stake situations makes the movie so good that you won’t get a chance to breathe.
In fact, in the third movie, the stakes are higher than before. All the characters have motivations and needs and wants and are actively chasing it. And it all comes down to one thing and that is Debby Jones.
Having high stakes and danger is like the nature of the adventure movie. It cannot function without those. Well, it could. But it won’t be an adventure movie, let alone be the best adventure movie.
The first three top adventure movies succeed at raising the stakes high, higher, and the highest throughout the acts. All the while completing some of the character arcs. Telling the story in its own unique way, which makes it one of the best adventure movies involving pirates.
Indiana Jones Raiders Of The Lost Ark (1981)
Director: Steven Spielberg
Cast: Harrison Ford, Karen Allen, Paul Freeman, John Rhys-Davies
There is one thing that Pirates of the Caribbean and the Raiders of the Lost Ark have in common. It is something I love, and most other movie lovers probably do too.
Wanna take a guess?
Okay, let me just reveal it! It is the character introduction. In the first movie of the Pirates of the Caribbean, within 1:15 seconds you already know who Jack Sparrow is. You might not know the name but his character, his demeanor even the fact that he has a certain level of honor for pirates is obvious from the start.
The same thing with Raiders of the Lost Ark. Even though it is not quite as short as above. Within the first three minutes before the iconic reveal, you know about his character as well. The fact that he is a master whip wielder. Within the next ten minutes, you already know most of his attributes like the fact that he is brave and a problem solver.
While all those aspects might seem to happen subconsciously. Which they do. They also increase your love for the movie subconsciously. Those are the aspects that turn normal adventures movie into iconic adventure movies and classics of its time. Raiders of the lost ark is not only the best adventure movie but an iconic classic movie that Hollywood would be proud to call its own.
Stars Wars The Original Trilogy (1977-1983)
Director: George Lucas, Irvin Kershner, Richard Marquand
Cast: Harrison Ford, Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher, Alec Guinnes
There might be some truth to what people are talking about, and that these adventure movies are becoming worse and worse, since the original series. Whether there is a truth to it or not. We are not going to discuss it, As this is a piece that should tell of you the best adventure movies of all time. However, Star Wars making it to best adventure movies does stand out as also one of the best action-adventure movies.
The star wars trilogy was that in all sense and even more is a trilogy that caused many spin-offs and many more tv-series. It is a trilogy that inspired many other adventure movies to copy and learn from them. It is the first sci-fi movie that is successful.
I hear people joking and saying may the force be with you. It is those saying and the quotes that also to a certain degree determine how successful the movies has become.
The first movie, A New Hope established the franchise in such a way that even after years of disappointment and bad movies. The franchise is still strong and steadily growing.
It can only be attributed to the first movie, and to the second for some people. Whether you like the first one better or the second one. You also agree that the first original of the trilogy was nothing like it is today.
It is very impressive that the best adventure movies from like 40 years ago are still considered way better than the movies that are just a few years old, especially in an era of fast technology improvement. It is obvious that they now have more possibilities, technological enhancements to make the movie look visually good. But the story is the success factor of most of the best adventure movies.
Director: Ridley Scott
Cast: Russel Crow, Joaquin Phoenix, Connie Nielsen, Djimon Hounsou
The 2000s were full of adventure movies about the past, about the Roman Empire, Persian Empire, or about main characters of the past. Despite all the competition of its time, one movie that stands out as one of the best action adventure movies is “Gladiator”.
In fact, it inspired many other movies to follow and film those times, but none with their success. This movie is an all-time classic. This is like a gem left for us for the audience by the Producer Ridley Scott.
Russell Crowe’s performance was phenomenal and made us see only the Maximus coupled with Joaquin Phoenix’s performance. We can easily conclude that their acting was the material that made the movie like a gem. It is undoubtedly one of the best performances ever.
The movie is visually thrilling, emotionally engaging, and an exhilarating epic that is hard to forget even years after you watched it. It is one of the best adventure movies.
The easiest way to find out if the movie is good or worth watching is letting it speak for itself. We can do it by looking at the amount of awards it won. And having Oscars best picture among others tells a lot about the movie.
Gladiator is one of those best adventure movies after watching which you start to compare every other movie about the same period and how well it duels up against this one. Even though you know Gladiator is not historically accurate.
That fact alone that it is hard to forget and worth watching a few times makes it one of a kind best adventure movie of all time.
Jurassic Park (1993)
Director: Steven Spielberg
Cast: Jeff Goldblum, Laura Dern, Sam Neil, B.D.Wong
Another classic of the adventure movie genre comes from one of the most talented producers of our age Steven Spielberg. This also happens to be a good adventure movie for kids.
To its time, it definitely was a movie of colossal entertainment with one of a kind visual effects and sound edits. That gained the movie Oscar Award more than that, they gained the hearts audience literally by forcing them 😉.
The movie probably was again one of the first adventure movies about Dinosaurs that were so popular and successful that it caused the whole phenomena of making movies on this topic throughout the whole industry. It is certainly one of the best adventure movies.
Apart from winning Oscars and stuff, this is one of the aspects that you can easily use to determine if the movie was a success, and boy was this a success. Best sci-fi adventure movie ever made, even with today’s’ technological advances there has not been any better movies yet.
The plot is something that probably crossed every single human on earth, or those cursed curious ones, or at least those who watched the movie.
Don’t tell you have not thought about it at least once! I can assure if you watched the movie, then you definitely have thought about it.
For example, I tell you it did cross mine. Heck I still think sometimes how it would be if we brought Dinosaurs back to life today?
Would we be able to tame them or end up like in the movie?
One last thing to like about the movie is Samuel L. Jacksons’ portrayal of a nerdy scientist which you do not see anymore these days 😜.
King Kong (2005)
Director: Peter Jackson
Cast: Naomi Watts, Jack Black, Adrien Broody, Peter Jackson
This is probably the most discussed movie of 2005, of course the discussion was not always positive. For example having too many supporting characters or roles. It is one of the best adventure movies.
However depending on what you expect to see this is a credible movie. More than that it is an epic monster movie.
Despite some of its flaws, you can’t help but enjoy this movie regardless of where you watch it. Of course it has some unrealistic chases, but monsters themselves are unrealistic too. So you should not expect anything realistic from a fantasy adventure movie.
The main thing I like about the movie is how much effort and money was poured into this movie. Most fans of the original comic or even the movie will find this one staying true to it, with a bit of auteur directional artistry.
For example, Peter Jackson, the director of Lord of the Ring series was offered to direct this movie way before he made the LOTR trilogy, and he said in one of his interviews back then, he had been planning and wanting to make this movie for quite a while. So he was a big fan of the Monsterverse himself.
It is great to see movies being made by those who understand the movie and its grandeur. Even though King Kong was not the Box Office hit or as successful as was expected. You could see Peter Jackson taking this very seriously and giving it his best.
It is one such entertainment piece, while it pushes the limits of what is realistic, gives the best adventure movie its respect and regard in the most grandiose sense literally.
Director: Alejandro González Iñárritu
Cast: Leonardo DiCaprio, Tom Hardy, Paul Anderson, Will Poulter
If you have been reading this far. Then you know every single one of the movies in this list is handpicked and unique in all aspects possible.
This one is no exception with the best performances, directing and cinematography of course.
Cinematography, although requires its own paragraph. If not a whole new article on how great and unbelievably impressive, breathtaking, it is. Emmanuel Lubizki is already one of the best in the industry. So, he proves it one more time with this unfriendly, wild nature it depicts so well.
There is a popular saying among the filmmakers “ every scene is a painting” utilized mostly in Hollywood. This is probably why it is hollywood. But you understand why the saying is so popular in the shiny tinseltown after watching this movie. They utilized natural lighting and shot almost the whole movie in the middle of nowhere.
Despite the movie having not a lot of dialogue, the incredible acting gives the movie a real feel and drives you through the slog with an ocean of expression for anger and revenge.
There is but one guarantee, you might not enjoy the depth of characters here or deep written script. But you will have one of a kind viewing experience, for new adventure movies like this rarely utilize natural lighting and atmosphere to shoot.
Back To The Future (1985)
Director: Robert Zemeckis
Cast: Michael J.Fox, Christopher Lloyd, Lea Thompson, Thomas F.Wilson
Another movie, another classic if you are thinking are you not tired of Nostalgia. Remembering all those great adventure movies and how great they used to be, I’ll tell you, I am not.
Because back then watching an incredible movie used to mean that you would get motivated and inspired to do something after watching it, or learn something from it.
For example, with me, every time I would watch this old adventure movie. I would have a sudden rush and interest in following my projects and be more independent and invent something incredible. I even created a wooden version of their gun to play in the Nerf Gun wars version of the game we used to play with my friends.
This is not simply the best sci-fi adventure movie of all time. It is overall an incredible one, well-written jokes, and the meaningful and tension-filled plot, and cinematography for its time are all done in the most professional and top-level that anyone at any age enjoys.
This should be an example of how to make the most successful movie. Because apart from the main adventure and sci-fi elements. The best adventure movie succeeds at comedy and deliverance of it through the performances of the two main actors.
It may have been the acting or the writing that there will not ever be the fourth movie. Because the first three are legendary and ended in such a way as to finish the whole franchise at a grace.
Unlike many studios executives and directors who keep coming back to old material time and time after, only to make a bit more buck. The creator of this movie had long decided to not even touch their masterpiece.
The Mummy (1999) / The Mummy Returns (2001)
Director: Stephen Sommers
Cast: Brendan Fraser, Rachel Weisz, Patricia Velásquez, Dwayne Johnson
Now this one may be a bit on the weaker side to compare it to some of the best adventure movies above. However, if you are a 90s kid or a millennial. Then you probably love this movie as much as I do.
Like many adventure movies, it has its flaws. It is a bit inconsequential or less plot-driven. But one heck of a good ride into the Egyptian world of Pharaohs and its tales. Mummy manages to combine comedy and horror into one whole adventure genre with action, which makes it a masterful adventure movie. And it is, for this reason, it is in the list of best adventure movies of all time.
These movies from 20 years ago don’t have the visual effects or the budget of the Mummy version made with Tom Cruise. But it has all the adventure movies require. My earliest memories of the movie are that after watching it almost every summer. I would go out and enter into the wilderness in search of adventure.
As a little kid did we know it could be dangerous. So I would end up somewhere in the forest which is in fact about a mile away from home. But would seem like miles upon miles away from home. Looking for sometimes the Aladins’ lamb but other times for old Egyptian artifacts again without realizing Egyptian artifacts exist only in Egypt where we did not live. 🤦
Even though I never found anything except old used one-time plastic glasses or the bottles of vodka and other alcoholic drinks. It was the thrill I was after. Any movie that can inspire anyone to go on little adventures of their own after is the truest example of a great adventure movie.
The Mask of Zorro (1998)
Director: Martin Campbell
Cast: Antonio Banderas. Catherine Zeta-Jones, Anthony Hopkins, Stuart Wilson
This is basically a love story filled with a bunch of action and adventure. Even as a teenager I always loved the scene where Zorro undresses Elena with his sword.
It is one of the most iconic and creative scenes in movie history. One of the best adventure movies of the previous century, plus it’s funny, so it is also a good comedy adventure movie.
The chemistry and attraction of Banderas and Zeta-Jones is irresistibly good. So infectious that it spills off screen to you.
As some people ridicule this movie saying Zorro is like a Mexican Batman. Even though he was a Mexican Batman, he would probably be a much sexier and hotter version of him.
There is one thing I found that was not properly addressed which is that Anthony Hopkins’ character still has English accent. They should have explained if it was done on purpose.
This movie was also so influential and had a special place in my heart for quite some time. It has done the same to kids throughout our whole neighborhood. Because we used to fight with each other using nothing but sticks in our hands.
It was not just us kids, now that I am all grown up and watched the movie again. I can be sure that even the adults used to love it and aspire to the movie or at least deep down wanted to be more like Zorro.
Not only now you know how to identify a good, adventure movie. But also you have quite the list to compare it to when in doubt.
Above all when you watch any of these movies, you will have quite the number of memories to carry on for a while.
All these movies are the best adventure movies this genre can offer. Although some might disagree, you know that these are the very best adventure movies Hollywood ever made. The ones that give you the hope and all other feelings promised in the beginning of the article.
I had watched the Pirates of the Caribbean before commencing on the task of bringing you the best adventure movies of all time. It was nice that I watched it because it helped me reminisce and refresh my mind on stuff that is important and why those movies were truly the best adventure movies ever existed.