Adventure Movies

A Complete Guide to the Best Adventure Movies

August 4, 20235 Mins Read

The Goonies (1985): A group of young misfits called The Goonies discover an ancient map and set out on an adventure to find a legendary pirate’s long-lost treasure.

Do you ever want to be a hero in the World of imagination? If so, then adventure movies are the perfect way to get your fix. Adventure movies typically showcase characters engaging in thrilling activities in a foreign location, traveling far-off lands, and engaging in incredible battles with epic stakes. While some may see these movies as summer blockbusters designed to escape from reality temporarily, others interpret them as commentaries on the human experience and profound statements about the human spirit. For these reasons, adventure movies remain among the most popular and beloved films ever.

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In this complete guide to the best adventure movies, we’ll discuss the features of a quality adventure movie and provide you with a curated list of the greatest examples ever made for your perusal.

Understanding the Genre

All adventure films have certain features in common, whether in ancient Egypt or the far reaches of outer space. The genre operates on a repeating and predictable structure that creates a personal journey for the protagonist. This journey often has seven basic stages and, when connected, tells a full story. The stages usually comprise the call to adventure, the departure, the initial struggle, the transition, the climax, the resolution, and the return.

A quality adventure film will also have a memorable villain and powerful hero. The villain usually has a personal agenda, and the hero often has something to prove. We have these characters cross paths in a dangerous situation and, as the film progresses, follow their arcs through the seven stages.

At the same time, the film should be visually unique so that the audience knows right away what type of movie they’re watching. Finally, the movie should incorporate an element of adventure that takes the hero from the mundane World into the exotic one. The hero may end up sailing on a pirate ship, looking for the lost city of Atlantis, or in a high-tech spaceship.

The Best Adventure Movies of All Time

Now, let’s look at some of the greatest adventure movies ever. Each of these examples meets the criteria of a good adventure movie mentioned above.

The classic and iconic Indy adventure film. Raiders of the Lost Ark is part adventure, part adventure-comedy, and all fun. Following intrepid archeologist and adventurer Indiana Jones on a search for the fabled Ark of the Covenant, the movie’s blend of action, suspense, and humor makes this a timeless classic. Starring Harrison Ford, this 1981 movie directed by Steven Spielberg is an essential guide in every adventure film lover’s catalog.

A movie that transcends time, The Princess Bride is the story of Buttercup and Westley, a couple who fall in love before destiny forces them apart. Westley leaves to pursue his dreams of travel and adventure, only to end up in the hands of the Dread Pirate Roberts. Buttercup reunites with her beau through the help of their heroic friends. This classic adventure-comedy stars Mandy Patinkin and Robin Wright and features epic sword fights, star-crossed romance, and many memorable quotes.

This epic adventure spawned several trilogies and occupied our collective movie imaginations for the better part of a decade. The hobbit Frodo Baggins and his devoted band of comrades set out on an epic quest across Middle-earth in The Lord of the Rings to defeat the Dark Lord Sauron and destroy the One Ring. Magnificent landscapes, thrilling action, and classic storytelling permeate this movie franchise, making it a staple to all adventure movie fanatics.

Jumanji tells the story of two preteens, Judy and Peter, who magically enter into the fantasy world of Jumanji to rescue Alan. This jungle-themed film is an unrelenting rollercoaster ride filled with hostile opponents and terrifying animals. This movie also stars a menacing and evil hunter, played excellently by Jonathan Hyde. Now a classic, Jumanji is an entertaining adventure movie for young and old.

The Goonies is an irresistible movie from the 1980s that follows the journey of a group of young outcasts as they follow “One-Eyed Willy’s” treasure map. On their wild adventure, they must eradicate dangerous criminals, maneuver an underground cave full of handicaps, and escape a giant octopus. The Goonies is pure adventure-filled fun that overflows with endearing performances and witty dialogue.

This classic fantasy adventure film has mesmerized generations with its unique visual style and exciting story. Starring the eponymous Sinbad, a fearless merchant sailor, and Cyclops, the film follows Sinbad as he discovers the strange World of the Island of Colossa. The special effects in the movie help to build tension and create a surreal atmosphere. For years, the Seventh Voyage of Sinbad will remain an essential reference piece in adventure films.


Adventure movies can offer a thrilling escape into the unknown and a chance to witness a hero brave challenges to become whole, whether through foolish errors or epic battles. With this guide, you now appreciate the features of a quality adventure movie and several great examples of the genre. Dive into any of these classics and have a thrilling, out-of-this-world experience.

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