Enjoy some great cinematic adventures.
Below is a select list of rip-roaring adventure films that consists of both fictional and true stories. It includes multiple award winners ranging from historical epics to blockbuster action classics. Some of the films are based on earlier written work and others blur the lines between genres. All of them provide an opportunity to lose oneself for a few hours in a good old adventure, whether it be a serious or more lighthearted one.
Only a concise summary of each film is given in order to prevent spoiling the viewing experience. All of the titles are arranged in order of their release.
Gunga Din (1939)
Based on a poem by Rudyard Kipling and set in India under British colonial rule, the film follows three soldiers and their water-bearer companion, Gunga Din, as they do battle with a formidable cult of murdering Thuggees in a temple rumoured to be made of gold.
The 7th Voyage of Sinbad (1958)
Sinbad and his crew visit the mysterious island of Colossa in search of the gigantic roc bird in order to counteract a spell placed on a princess by a sorcerer. The film features some of Ray Harryhausen’s fantastic Dynamation creatures, including a fearsome sword-fighting skeleton.
Lawrence of Arabia (1962)
Winner of seven Oscars, this film, which was inspired by the adventures of T.E. Lawrence in the Arabian Peninsula during the First World War, is as epic as they come. It is one of the most highly regarded motion pictures of all time. The cinematography and musical score are sublime.
Jason and the Argonauts (1963)
Based on a combination of several ancient Greek myths, this is creature creator Ray Harryhausen’s masterpiece. During their quest to retrieve the Golden Fleece, Jason and the crew of the Argo clash with various monstrosities, including the bronze giant Talos and the multi-headed Hydra.
The Golden Voyage of Sinbad (1973)
Guided by a golden amulet and his dreams, Sinbad washes ashore during a storm in the land of Marabia where he gains knowledge of the hidden route to the legendary Fountain of Destiny. Along the way his assailants include a fierce statue of Kali, the Hindu goddess of death and destruction.
The Man Who Would Be King (1975)
This cracking adventure film, adapted from Rudyard Kipling’s Novella, earned four Oscars. It depicts the long and perilous journey of two late nineteenth century British ex-soldiers as they attempt to make their way to the little-known country of Kafiristan with the intention of securing untold riches.
Sinbad and the Eye of the Tiger (1977)
This Sinbad tale features another stop-motion menagerie from Ray Harryhausen. On this voyage Sindbad must journey to an ancient shrine contained in an Arimaspi pyramid in Hyperborea so that he can break the spell that has transformed unfortunate Prince Kassim into a primate.
Clash of the Titans (1981)
Clash of the Titans is Harryhausen’s grand finale. It features a host of Greek gods, goddesses, and other creatures of myth, such as the Kraken and Medusa. This film presents the legendary story of the hero Perseus, son of Zeus, as he makes his way to the island of the infamous snake-headed gorgon.
Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981)
This is the movie that introduced archaeologist and adventurer Indiana Jones to the world. It won five Academy Awards and was the highest-grossing film of 1981. In his first outing Indy is pit against Nazis in a race to prevent them from gaining possession of the sacred Ark of the Covenant.
Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom (1984)
The second film adventure for Dr. Jones is darker in tone than Raiders of the Lost Ark and was influenced by the first film on this list, Gunga Din. This prequel takes Indy and his companions to India’s Pankot Palace in a quest to retrieve a sacred stone. They must contend with an arcane Kali-worshipping cult after discovering a hidden underground temple.
Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (1989)
In the third film of the series, Indiana Jones sets out to rescue his father who has disappeared during his search for the Holy Grail. This installment returns to the more lighthearted atmosphere of the first movie as Father and Son team up to track down the fabled relic. Once again, they vie with a group of power-hungry Nazis.
Seven Years in Tibet (1997)
Based on a true story, Seven Years in Tibet tracks mountaineer Heinrich Harrer’s amazing escape from a British prisoner of war camp and trek across the high Himalaya. The film goes on to chart Harrer’s eventual arrival at the Tibetan holy city of Lhasa and the friendship he forms with the Dalai Lama.
The Mummy (1999)
Based roughly on the 1932 black-and-white classic, 1999’s The Mummy sees an adventurer, a historian, her brother, and a Medjay attempt to re-entomb High Priest Imhotep after he is accidentally awoken in the City of the Dead and unleashes a series of terrible plagues on Egypt.
Lara Croft: Tomb Raider (2001)
Video game heroine Lara Croft’s first appearance on the silver screen is set during an exceedingly rare planetary alignment. She faces off against the shadowy Illuminati organisation as she attempts to stop them from securing an artifact that would give them the power to control time.
Lara Croft: Tomb Raider – The Cradle of Life (2003)
On the trail of an ancient orb that reveals the location of Pandora’s box and the Cradle of Life, Lara Croft takes on a mission for the British Intelligence Service and competes with an Asian crime-lord as she gallivants around the globe visiting Santorini, Hong Kong, and Tanzania.
Set in Mesoamerica during the early sixteenth century, the tense and highly atmospheric Apocalypto follows woeful protagonist Jaguar Paw’s attempt to escape captivity, avoid death, and re-unite with his family. All the while, he is pursued by a group of violent Maya warriors who sacrifice their prisoners to the gods.
The Revenant (2015)
This visceral and visually stunning adventure drama won three Oscars and three Golden Globes after its release. Bolstered by some powerful acting, it is a harrowing story of survival, tenacity, endurance, and revenge set in the cold and unforgiving frontier territory of early 1800’s North America.
Embrace of the Serpent (2015)
A winner at the 2015 Cannes Film Festival, this mesmerising black-and-white film, which is dedicated to lost Amazonian cultures, tells the story of two scientists trying to locate a sacred plant deep in the jungle. Although the expeditions are set three decades apart, they are guided by the same tribal shaman who is the last surviving member of his people.
The Lost City of Z (2016)
The film adaptation of David Grann’s book recounts the real-life expeditions of British explorer Percy Harrison Fawcett and his search for the enigmatic Lost City of Z in the Amazon. The challenges he and his parties faced are realistically depicted through incredible atmospheric cinematography.
Tomb Raider (2018)
Based on the 2013 video game series reboot, Tomb Raider sees a younger, more plausible Lara Croft make her way to the remote island of Yamatai, believed to be the last place her father visited before he vanished. There she discovers the hidden tomb of ancient Japanese queen Himiko and becomes embroiled in a struggle with the obscure group known as Trinity.
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