16 best adventure movies of 2021
What is the difference between action and adventure? Like a gun to our head, we’d say it has something to do with wonder and awe. While the action centers on wrestling, the adventure celebrates discovery. It’s a world never seen before, a treasure buried for centuries, an unsolved mystery for millennia. The adventure film is a journey. It shares more territory with the myth and heroic epic than with the actual cinematic spectacle. And that’s why modern Disney and Pixar myth factories produce some of the best adventure stories today. This year is no exception. This year will be one hell of a year for animated adventure.
That’s not to say 2020 has been without some great live-action adventure films. Although his roots are in science fiction, Christopher Nolan jumps from continent to continent, jumps in time Principle scratched a long quarantine adventure itch. Mulan, while not quite the historic war film we were hoping for, has pulled off many large-scale semi-magical journeys. And Bill and Ted was, like, totally Bill and Ted.
So far 2021 promises to be even bigger thanks to many relics from 2020 and all-new imaginative films from the animated myth factories. Here are the best adventure movies of 2021 that we can’t wait to see.
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No Man’s Land (January 22)
The adventure of No Man’s Land is that of hunting, a western-inspired border crossing. Here the path is not towards escape, but towards redemption.
Nomadland (February 19)
Nomadic country offers a more everyday and primitive adventure. It tells the story of a woman traveling west after suffering economic losses. It’s the kind of adventure that makes another world out of the one we already live in.
Raya and the Last Dragon (March 5)
Let the dominance of adventure animation 2021 begin. The title contains the basic plot elements and the most basic of the western literary adventure: the quest for the dragon.
Chaos March (March 5)
A vestige of 2020, Chaos march is the kind of otherworldly sci-fi tale we’re happy to call “adventure”. It seems like a visual spectacle, and in the best way.
The King’s Man (March 12)
Director Matthew Vaughn is the king of modern action-adventure. There’s no 2021 movie list we haven’t put this one on, and for good reason.
No time to die (April 2)
Of course, before there was the Kingsman franchise there was the international spy thriller OG: 007. Daniel Craig’s latest adventure, directed by Cary Joji Fukunaga, will be a cinematic joy.
Black Widow (May 7)
Marvel is generally a safe adventure bet, and Black Widow appears to be more of the indie character journey film than its most recent star-filled offerings.
Free guy (May 21)
The adventure genre involves stumbling across new worlds or, in the case of free guy, finding out which one you’re in is actually an open world video game. And you are an NPC.
Vivo (June 4)
We don’t know much about Vivo other than the fact that this is Sony Pictures Animation’s first musical. Oh, and it’s written by Lin-Manuel Miranda. That’s really all we need to know.
Luca (June 18)
Pixar is heading for the Italian Riviera, which, while majestic, still looks pretty ordinary. Regular until you have sea monsters and Pixar’s special platonic love mark.
Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings (July 9)
Shang-Chi lends itself to action and adventure in technicolor. Hope this is the kind of brilliant fun inspired by the comic book of Thor: Ragnarok rather than some of Marvel’s literally more boring productions.
Unexplored (July 16)
Based on one of the best selling adventure video games, Unexplored finds Tom Holland taking on Nathan Drake’s Indiana Jones aesthetic. Let’s see if Hollywood can redeem itself afterwards Grave robber.
Dune (October 1)
Dune will be the most epic film of 2021, and we mean “epic” in its own mythological, travel-like context. If Frank Herbert’s novel even comes to life halfway through, we’ll call it a success.
Eternals (November 5)
Another Marvel movie? Hell yeah. Although probably located on Earth, Eternals promises a lot of alien fun.
Mission: Impossible 7 (November 19)
Kingsman. Bind. And now Impossible mission. What a year for action adventure, oh, what a glorious year.
Encanto (November 24)
A young Colombian was born into a magical family. However, she has no power. It’s a classic setup for what will likely be another imaginative Disney epic.
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