Since I’m a big devotee of adventure movies, I decided to put together a list that highlights some of the best examples from the last several decades. In case you’re wondering, adventure movies often feature the hero (or heroine) undertaking an exciting and perilous journey in order to accomplish some manner of goal. Their mission is usually complicated by those trying to stop them, and these antagonists can take the form of anything from sword-wielding warriors to scheming royals. But no matter what the danger, you can bet that our hero will usually find a way to overcome adversity and save the day.
Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (1989) – In the third film of the series, archeologist Indiana Jones (Harrison Ford) sets out on a quest to find the Holy Grail before the Nazis get their hands on it. But complicating matters is his cantankerous father, Henry Jones Sr. (Sean Connery), himself an expert on Grail lore. As the Jones boys cross the globe, they’ll be confronted with mysterious sects, thundering tanks, and lots and lots of German soldiers. And snakes…did I mention there would be snakes?
The Princess Bride (1987) – As an old man (Peter Falk) reads to his sick grandson (Fred Savage), we’re told the tale of Westley (Carey Elwes) and Buttercup (Robin Wright), two lovers who must overcome all manner of obstacles to be together. A few of these obstacles include a six-fingered man (Christopher Guest), a spineless king (Chris Sarandon), and the temporary death of the main character. Also starring Mandy Patinkin, Andre the Giant, Billy Crystal, and Peter Cook.
Stardust (2007) – When he sees a falling star, young Tristan Thorne (Charlie Cox) promises a girl that he’ll retrieve it for her in exchange for a promise of marriage. When he reaches the star, he finds it to be a beautiful young woman (Claire Danes), but he resolves to take her home anyway. It’s hardly that simple, however, as she’s also being pursued by ruthless princes and a trio of witches. A fantastical tale based on the works of Neil Gaiman, the film also stars Robert De Niro, Michelle Pfeiffer, Ricky Gervais, Peter O’Toole, Mark Strong, and the voice of Ian McKellen.
Willow (1988) – Directed by Ron Howard, Willow stars Warwick Davis as a kind-hearted halfling/aspiring sorcerer who’s charged with keeping an infant safe from an evil queen. He’s assisted in this task by Madmartigan (Val Kilmer), a sword-wielding troublemaker with a heart of gold. If you’re looking for adventure in a fantasy setting, be sure to give this film a try.
Romancing the Stone (1984) – An American romance novelist (Kathleen Turner) heads to the jungles of Colombia to help rescue her recently-widowed sister, but she’ll also require a little saving of her own. Fortunately, she encounters a roguish adventurer named Jack T. Colton (Michael Douglas), and the duo set out on an adventure that involves hidden treasure, a ruthless military man, and Danny DeVito as a pint-sized crook. An effective blend of romance, adventure, and comedy.
National Treasure (2004) – After finding a coded map on the back of the Declaration of Independence, historian Benjamin Franklin Gates (Nicolas Cage) sets out to find one of the greatest treasures in history. But he’ll have to be fast, as the hidden treasure is also being searched for by less scrupulous parties. Co-starring Harvey Keitel, Jon Voight, Diane Kruger, Sean Bean, and Christopher Plummer.
Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World (2003) – Adapted from the novels by Patrick O’Brian, this swashbuckling adventure tale follows the exploits of Captain Jack Aubrey (Russell Crowe) and ship’s surgeon Dr. Stephen Maturin (Paul Bettany) as they serve aboard the HM Frigate Surprise during the Napoleonic Wars. There’s great chemistry between the leads, and the film does an admirable job of showing the many hardships faced by sailors of that era.