Adventure Movies

10 Modern Adventure Movies Destined to Become Classics

April 18, 20237 Mins Read

Adventure movies are integral to the fabric of American cinema. Since the medium’s dawn, the adventure genre has been a popular choice for audiences to rally behind, providing some of cinema’s most memorable characters, iconic sequences, and quotable lines.

The genre has gone through numerous peaks and valleys but has endured thanks to its universal appeal. And while it isn’t as successful as it once was, it remains a prominent and reliable source of entertainment. Luckily, the 21st century has produced some memorable adventure movies, many of which are certainly destined to become modern classics.

10 ‘The Lost City of Z’ (2016)

Robert Pattinson and Charlie Hunnam in The Lost City of Z
Image Via Amazon

James Gray‘s narratively ambitious adventure The Lost City of Z stars Charlie Hunnam as British explorer Percy Fawcett. The plot follows Fawcett as he journeys to Brazil and makes numerous attempts to find a mysterious lost city in the Amazon. Robert Pattinson and Tom Holland also star.

RELATED: The Lost Souls Of James Gray’s Films

Dismissing the spectacle in favor of an insightful exploration of obsession heightened by Gray’s visual panache, The Lost City of Z is a unique entry in the adventure genre. Clever and often eerie, the film is a fascinating look into one of history’s most divisive explorers that largely succeeds thanks to lush production values and a compelling turn from Hunnam.

9 ‘Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle’ (2017)

The cast of Jumanji Welcome to the Jungle posing for a photo in the jungle.
Image via Columbia Pictures

Dwayne Johnson, Jack Black, Kevin Hart, and Karen Gillan star in 2017’s action-adventure Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle. A sequel to the beloved Robin Williams 1995 classic, the film follows four high school students who get sucked into a video game and are forced to finish before their three lives run out.

Although a sequel to such a beloved classic might seem blasphemous, Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle features enough funny twists to make it worth the audience’s time. However, the film truly shines thanks to its four leads, with Jack Black delivering a career-best performance as the adolescent Bethany. A fun crowdpleaser in every sense of the word, Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle is infinitely rewatchable and far funnier than anyone could’ve expected.

8 ‘The Lost City’ (2022)

Loretta and Alan looking up while standing beside a waterfall in The Lost City.
Image via Paramount

Sandra Bullock and Channing Tatum make for one hilarious duo in the 2022 adventure comedy The Lost City. The plot centers on Loretta, a dissatisfied and reclusive romance writer kidnapped by a millionaire to help him track a treasure hidden in the jungle. When her cover model learns of her abduction, he sets out on a reckless quest to rescue her.

Elevated by Bullock and Tatum’s committed performance and surprisingly good chemistry, and further aided by a delightfully wicked turn from Daniel Radcliffe, The Lost City is perfect escapist entertainment. It owes its existence to better classics like Romancing the Stone, but The Lost City is funny and handsome enough to stand beside them as bonafide classics of the adventure genre.

7 ‘The Secret Life of Walter Mitty’ (2013)

Ben Stiller as Walter Mitty skateboards in The Secret Life of Walter Mitty

It shouldn’t be an overstatement to say Ben Stiller is a far better director than an actor – and he’s a pretty great actor. However, Stiller has found a unique ambition behind the camera, and his 2013 adaptation of James Thurber’s 1939 classic novel is proof enough. The Secret Life of Walter Mitty follows the title character, a timid photographer dreaming his life away, who gets the unique chance to go on a real-life adventure when tasked to take a perfect photo.

RELATED: Ben Stiller’s Best Films, Ranked By Rotten Tomatoes

Ambitious to a fault and unafraid to swing big even if it misses, The Secret Life of Walter Mitty cemented Stiller as a distinctive and audacious voice behind the camera. The film is far from perfect, but thanks to a poignant story and spectacular visuals, it succeeds as a reminder of living rather than simply existing.

6 ‘Hunt for the Wilderpeople’ (2016)

Hector and Ricky aiming their rifles in the same direction in Hunt for the Wilderpeople.

Taika Waititi rose to prominence thanks to his 2016 adventure dramedy Hunt for the Wilderpeople. Julian Dennison and Sam Neill star as a boy and his foster father who become the targets of a manhunt after getting lost in the New Zealand bush.

Hunt for the Wilderpeople is among Taika Waititi’s best movies. Featuring the charm and wit the director became famous for and two offbeat performances from Dennison and Neill, the film is an exciting and heartwarming adventure that will leave audiences grinning from ear to ear.

5 ‘Okja’ (2013)

Okja and Mija hugging
Image via Netflix 

Academy Award winner Bong Joon-ho co-wrote and directed 2013’s Okja. The film revolves around a young girl who travels to the United States to rescue her genetically-modified super pig Okja from the cruelty of the meat industry. The film stars a large ensemble, including Tilda Swinton, Paul Dano, Steven Yeun, and Jake Gyllenhaal.

Although Okja is not a typical adventure movie, it deftly balances several of the genre’s most crucial elements, resulting in a funny and deeply affecting story. Showcasing a stellar cast at the top of their game and a touching and profound message, Okja is a one-of-a-kind adventure film and yet another classic from the immensely talented Bong.

4 ‘Life of Pi’ (2012)

Pi Patel and the tiger standing aboard a ship at sea in Life of Pi

Ang Lee won his second Best Director Oscar for his 2012 adventure movie Life of Pi. Based on the eponymous 2001 novel, the film follows the sole survivors of a shipwreck stranded on the ocean: a sixteen-year-old Indian boy and a ferocious Bengal tiger.

Visually stunning and narratively rewarding, Life of Pi is a cinematic triumph and a groundbreaking achievement of 3D. The film offers a poignant and emotionally rich storyline, contrasting it with spectacular visuals that rank among the best in modern cinema, resulting in a fantastic film of epic proportions that pushed the boundaries of what was possible.

3 ‘Hugo’ (2011)

Hugo and Isabelle at the movies in Hugo
Image Via Paramount Pictures

Martin Scorsese‘s 2011 love letter to cinema, Hugo, finds the director at his most charming and pleasing. The film stars Asa Butterfield as the titular character, a young orphan boy living in the Gare Montparnasse in Paris who tries to solve the mystery behind his late father’s automaton machine.

RELATED: Martin Scorsese’s Best Historical Movies, Ranked

Hugo is a loving ode to silent film heightened by Scorsese’s gentle approach and lush and stunning production values. Heartwarming and profoundly affecting, Hugo excels as a coming-of-age adventure, a story about the importance of family and legacy, and a reminder of the undeniable and life-changing power of cinema.

2 ‘Puss in Boots: The Last Wish’ (2022)

Puss, Kitty Softpaws, and Perrito in Puss in Boots: The Last Wish
Image via DreamWorks

Puss in Boots: The Last Wish follows the titular daredevil cat as he learns he’s running out of lives. Terrified of dying, he set out on a quest to retrieve the last wish from the wishing star, accompanied by his former paramour Kitty Softpaws and a gentle support dog, while pursued by a ruthless businessman and a quartet of bandits.

Arguably the best film in the Shrek franchise since the 2001 original, Puss in Boots: The Last Wish is a classic adventure full of heart. Balancing deep issues of death and trauma with visual spectacle and plenty of laughs, the film successfully revives the franchise while expanding the themes that made it a unique animated series in the first place.

1 ‘Stardust’ (2007)

Captain Shakespeare teaches Tristan Thorn how to sword duel in Stardust.

Before he was Daredevil, Charlie Cox was young Tristan in Matthew Vaughn‘s fantasy adventure Stardust. Adapted from Neil Gaiman’s 1999 novel of the same name, the film follows Tristan as he ventures into the magical kingdom of Stormhold to recover a fallen star. However, the star, who assumes the form of a young woman, is also pursued by an evil witch and an ambitious prince.

Featuring a wickedly delicious villain courtesy of Michelle Pfeiffer and a scene-stealing turn from Robert De Niro, Stardust is a classic in the making. Fantastical, engrossing, and often very funny, the film is a well-told adventure strengthened by a stellar cast that proves some stories truly are timeless.

NEXT: Modern Rom-Coms Destined To Become Classics

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