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Experiencing adventures together – is there a better definition for happiness, the meaning of life, the perfect leisure time? Sometimes, however, we are lazy and prefer to experience adventures comfortably on the couch: that’s what adventure movies are made for. We have compiled 8 x 8 thrilling best adventure movies for you, which guarantee a successful movie night!
It is not so easy to narrow down adventure films, after all, every feature film is about an adventure in some way. In the following, we present 8 of our best adventure movies of all time, which are guaranteed to bring you grandiose adventures for your movie night. For each film there are also 7 further tips on similar adventure films, so in total 8 x 8 = 64 film recommendations!.
Jules Verne is one of the great visionaries among authors of adventure novels. Long before this was even a thought, he wrote of journeys to the moon, with flying machines and submarines. Among his most famous works is the novel 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. Even though he slightly overestimated the depth of the oceans with it, he created the mother of great adventure stories with it.
So it is not surprising that there are 10 film adaptations of the classic. Our opinion: the best film version* is still the Disney-produced version with Hollywood legend Kirk Douglas. Directed by Richard Fleischer, it was a visually impressive adventure film that still delights today with its imaginative set.
France 1868: rumours circulate of a gigantic sea monster attacking ships on all the world’s oceans. The adventurous oceanographer Professor Pierre Aronnax has set himself the goal of confronting the monster and finding out all about it in the name of science. Together with his servant and the experienced harpooner Ned Land (Kirk Douglas), he sets out on his mission in a warship. But the sea monster turns out to be the Nautilus, the huge submarine of the mysterious Captain Nemo. The latter captures the research team and takes them 20,000 miles under the sea. Will they ever see the surface of the earth again?
Most adventure films are either about fictional heroes or well-known historical figures. But there are also adventure films that tell of quite real adventures of real people. Sean Penn’s Into the Wild is based on a true story and tells of young anthropology student Christopher McCandless’ search for real adventures and experience of real wilderness in the USA in 1990.
Into the Wild has a slow narrative compared to other action-based adventure films. Precisely because of this, however, the film develops a special pull that allows the viewer to empathise with Christopher, the dropout.
Christopher McCandless is 22 when he graduates from university with a degree in history and anthropology. But instead of throwing himself into professional life, as his wealthy parents would like, he embarks on a 2-year journey through the USA. He becomes a dropout and is always on the lookout for real adventure, real wilderness, for originality. Finally, his search leads him to the far north of Alaska, where the winter is particularly harsh and merciless…
A list of best adventure films would not be complete without a real seafaring film. Moby Dick is a film about an epochal theme: the obsessive vendetta of the demonic Captain Ahab against Moby Dick, the white whale.
For the film version of the great American epic, director John Huston engaged none other than Gregory Peck in the role of the possessed one-legged Captain Ahab and Orson Welles as the ranting priest Mapple. With his cinematographer Oswald Morris, he developed the film’s special look, which was meant to look like old faded copperplate engravings from the 19th century.
New Bedford, New England in 1841: young Ishmael needs work and decides to sign on as a sailor, as he has always been fascinated by the sea. At an inn he meets the Polynesian harpooner Queequeg, with whom he becomes friends. Despite the insistent warnings of a crazy old man named Elias, they sign on to the Pequod, a whaling ship under the command of the one-legged Captain Ahab, whom they never see in their first days on board. They have no idea that they have placed their fate in the hands of a possessed maniac. For Ahab knows only one goal: revenge on Moby Dick, the white whale who once took his leg. Revenge at any price.
A mosquito that has tanked up on dinosaur blood, trapped for millions of years in an amber makes it possible: the return of the dinosaurs through modern genetic engineering! Steven Spielberg’s film adaptation of the bestseller by Michael Crichton already enjoys classic status among monster films.
With its combination of impressive effects, suspense, creepiness and delightfully wry humour, he created an adventure film that you liked as a child and still love as a teenager and adult. A cinematic visit to the original Jurassic Park is always fun, especially since the three sequels Forgotten World: Jurassic Park, Jurassic Park III and Jurassic World so far are of varying quality. For us, at least, they will never come close to the charm of the original.
Billionaire John Hammond has brought dinosaurs back to life on a small Caribbean island near Costa Rica. He succeeded with the help of genetic engineering and the blood of a dinosaur that was preserved in a mosquito encased in amber. With the creatures of prehistory, he has created a huge adventure park on the island, the Jurassic Park.
Before the park is opened to the general public, palaeobotanist Ellie Staller, palaeontologist Dr Alan Grant and chaos theorist Dr Ian Malcolm are invited to the island as specialists to certify the safety of the dinosaur park. The scientists are fascinated and excited by the reawakened dinosaurs. But then a thunderstorm moves in over the island and at the same time a corrupt employee of the park briefly switches off the security system in order to steal dinosaur eggs – with fatal consequences…
This classic by John Huston is one of the few adventure films in which a woman is the driving force and main character: the resolute missionary Rose Sayer, played by the legendary Katharine Hepburn. Together with Humphrey Bogart as the raffish steamer captain Charlie Allnutt, she embarks on a river journey across East Africa against the backdrop of the First World War.
Although the steamboat on which the two are travelling is also called African Queen, for me that is the secret title given to power woman Hepburn in this great adventure film.
African Queen is set during World War 1 in what was then German East Africa (now Tanzania, Burundi, Rwanda and parts of Mozambique). In a small village far from civilisation, the youthful Rose Sayer works as a missionary together with her brother, a pastor. The settlement in the wilderness is supplied with the bare necessities by Captain Charlie Allnut on his little old steamboat, the African Queen. But then, by chance, the little mission falls victim to an attack manoeuvre by the Germans. Father Sayer lapses into mental derangement and dies a short time later. Captain Allnut is forced to take the energetic Rose on board. The beginning of a wild adventure in more ways than one…
It’s a bit bizarre: director Werner Herzog claims in many interviews to hate the term adventure. Yet a whole series of the great German director’s works are adventure films. Aguirre – The Wrath of God, the third feature film by the then just 30-year-old maverick, was, is and remains a masterpiece.
Aguirre – The Wrath of God features exceptional actor Klaus Kinski, who as a Spanish conquistador in 16th-century Peru gradually falls prey to madness. He is on a quest for the legendary El Dorado. Breathtaking jungle shots, a simultaneously documentary-realistic as well as dreamlike-magical atmosphere and in addition the ethereal soundtrack by Popol Vuh. What more could you want?
Peru in the 16th century: a group of Spanish conquistadors and their court embark on an expedition into the jungle to find El Dorado, the fabled land of gold. Among them is the ambitious and unscrupulous Don Lope de Aguirre (Klaus Kinski). While the men and women endure hunger and heat and try to cope with treacherous rapids and attacks by Indians, Aguirre instigates a mutiny and seizes command. When malaria takes hold, the expedition becomes more and more of a fever-dream journey into the heart of darkness….
Thanks to this filmic adventure epic, British archaeologist and secret agent T. E. Lawrence has forever become a superhuman heroic figure in the collective memory. And Peter O’Toole’s face, with bright blue eyes and Bedouin shawl around his head, has since become one of the most iconic images in film history.
During World War I, British officer T. E. Lawrence is sent to the Arabian Peninsula to observe political developments there and report back to the British army. But Lawrence does not remain an outside observer: he adopts the Bedouin way of life and culture and takes sides in the cause of the Arab independence movement. Will this be his undoing?
The undisputed king of all adventure films is of course Harrison Ford aka Indiana Jones. The adventurous archaeologist makes his first appearance in Raiders of the Lost Ark. The lost treasure Indy is looking for is the fabled Ark of the Covenant, the sacred container of the original stone tablets with the 10 Commandments described in the Bible. Whoever possesses the Ark of the Covenant becomes invincible, so the legend goes.
As the story is set in 1936, the Nazis are of course also after the mysterious and powerful artefact. From Nepal to Cairo to the Aegean, Indiana Jones’ hunt for the lost treasure leads him. All the ingredients for a successful adventure film are present on this journey: breathtaking landscapes, dangerous flights of fancy, lots of last-second rescues, battles against nasty Nazi villains, magical rays and, last but not least, a love story with the Bond girl…. uhhh… Indy girl.
With their Indiana Jones series, George Lucas and Steven Spielberg created the blueprint for countless later adventure films, few of which come close to the original.
Even after the 4th part from 2008, Indiana Jones is by no means retired: a 5th part has already been announced for 2019. By Spielberg, of course, and with Harrison Ford.
Are you looking for more ideas for a movie night with friends? Then check out our lists of the best summer movies or the best movies about friendship. Or you can browse our other tips for indoor activities and for activities with friends, with kids and with your partner.
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Image source Cover image: © Paramount – Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom (1984).
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