The best adventure movies of all time

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Want to explore strange and foreign lands beyond your wildest dreams? Want to search for ancient treasures, possibly surrounded by death traps that were very complicated to build for one use? Brave enough to see bad guys get their payoff in all kinds of horrible ways because greed, fortune, and fame got the better of them?

Well, it’s dangerous to go it alone and find the best adventure movies, so grab this top-notch list of entrees to enhance your weekend afternoon – or any afternoon, instead. Besides.

Made up of undisputed classics, along with a few more recent incredible journeys, we’ve set up some essential viewing to make sure you don’t waste your time watching anything other than the most exciting offerings, all led by a wide variety of heroes. From mad archaeologists to kind-hearted gardeners, there isn’t a single wrong turn to be found in what would make an exceptional movie marathon. So watch your step (and these recommendations).

What are the best adventure movies of all time?

  • The black crystal
  • To hang up
  • Labyrinth
  • Pirates of the Caribbean: Curse of the Black Pearl
  • Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle
  • Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade
  • The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring
  • The Goonies
  • Star Wars: A New Hope
  • The Raiders of the Lost Ark
  • The page master

The Black Crystal (1982)

Even though he was good at creating passionate relationships between talking pigs and frogs, one of Jim Henson’s most important endeavors was adventure, The Dark Crystal. Jen Gelfling’s heroic lonely journey to restore the titular towering monument and fight the iconic, nightmarish Skeksis is a magical watch even now.

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Demonstrating the best of Jim Henson’s workshop, including the stoic urRu and the grueling Fizzgig, The Dark Crystal always shines.

Best Adventure Movies: Robin Williams & Dustin Hoffman in Hook

Hook (1991)

In retrospect, Robin Williams’ Hook looks like a long-lost superhero origin story that dares to fly like no other Peter Pan adaptation has since. The journey of a sweet-mannered father who turns into Pan the Man to save his children is a “terrifyingly grand adventure” that sprinkles a new batch of fairy dust on an iconic character.

Add to that the “twirling villain of Dustin Hoffman,” plus sword fights (and food) set to John Williams’ chest swelling score, and you’ve got a great adventure movie that’s absolutely bangarang!

Best Adventure Movies: Jennifer Connelly in Labyrinth

Maze (1986)

If we are talking about adventure, then we have to talk about the baby. Jim Henson’s other equally insane yet brilliant fantasy film sees Jennifer Connolly trying to save her baby half-brother after wishing him to go to Jareth the Goblin King.

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As David Bowie steals the show as the big-haired ball ride (no, we’re not talking about this codpiece) antagonist of the play, there’s a lot to enjoy elsewhere as well, as Connolly gets lost on this Acid in Wonderland journey alongside a fantastic group of characters imagined by Henson in his prime.

Best Adventure Movies: Johnny Depp and Orlando Bloom in Pirates of the Caribbean

Pirates of the Caribbean: Curse of the Black Pearl (2003)

Want to stretch your sea legs in your quest for danger? You can’t go wrong with Pirates of the Caribbean: Curse of the Black Pearl. Disney’s joker based on one of his famous theme park rides could easily have sunk without Gore Verbinski at the helm and Johnny Depp on board as Captain Jack Sparrow.

Sure, there’s the supporting talent of Kiera Knightley and Orlando Bloom, but Depp still smuggles scenes with ease, rarely having to compete with Geoffrey Rush’s enigmatic Captain Barbossa. An eclectic crew sails, swords and belches through a blockbuster that manages to surprise with almost every turn of the ship’s wheel, it’s still an absolute treasure.

Best Adventure Movies: Kevin Hart, Karen Gillan, Jack Black and Dwayne Johnson in Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle

Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle (2017)

Of all the daring efforts on this list, Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle has every reason not to work and yet it does. Modernizing an already beloved property and redeveloping it around a superb quartet of characters is not only a great adventure but also one of the best video game movies ever made.

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Mixing up Tron and the first round of Jumanji, which starred Robin Williams, Welcome to the Jungle spins at an incredible pace thanks to its huge sets and a self-aware cast for the ride. Changing the game we loved, Welcome to the Jungle has a bit of fun for everyone – yes, even die-hard fans of the first film – and everyone involved clearly has tons of it. Tap Start if you haven’t already.

Best Adventure Movies: Harrison Ford and Sean Connery as Indiana Jones and his Father in The Last Crusade

Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (1989)

Some of the greatest adventures are family affairs, and they don’t get any better than Steven Spielberg’s third installment in the Indiana Jones series. If seeing Indy defeat the Nazis and thwart old trials isn’t convincing enough, seeing him confronting his father along the way makes The Last Crusade one of the more polished chapters.

The story goes that Spielberg always had Sean Connery in mind to play the father of the protagonist of Harrison Ford because, as far as he saw him, James Bond was the father of Indiana Jones. It’s a line of thinking that pays off massively, raising the stakes and adding more heart to an already thrilling picture. Choose wisely.

Best Adventure Movies: Elijah Wood, Viggo Mortensen and Ian McKellen as Frodo Baggins, Aragorn and Gandalf

The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (2001)

Peter Jackson’s perfect introduction to Tolkien’s world, and the One Ring that goes with it, is always a chapter worth revisiting. So many hair-raising lines, so many unforgettable encounters woven together for an epic and perilous adventure in which – exceptionally – the heroes seek to get rid of themselves from a treasure.

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Perfectly cast in just about every area, seeing Middle-earth’s mightiest heroes come together always brings chills. Be warned, however; you won’t skip this viewing without pasting the next one right after.

Best Adventure Movies: The Goonies Cast

The Goonies (1985)

A children’s treasure hunt that any youngster would love to do. One-Eyed Willy’s Goonies in Search of Rich Content had such an impact that some of the most popular movies and TV shows are still trying to replicate its success years later.

From the second, Mikey tells his friends the story of a hidden treasure and finds the map that could lead them there, it is a dose of admiration and childhood nostalgia that never fades. If you want to get lost on a Saturday afternoon then the Goonies are really good enough.

Best Adventure Movies: Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher, and Mark Hamill as Han Solo, Princess Leia, and Luke Skywalker in Star Wars: A New Hope

Star Wars: A New Hope (1977)

The daring first in a series and franchise spanning decades, A New Hope contains all of the crucial ingredients for an adventure. Knights and princesses, thieves and wizards, monsters and talking carpets.

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And yet Lucas’ sci-fi vision was unlike anything we had ever seen before. Regardless of what followed, there’s no denying that the young Skywalker’s journey through the stars is one for the ages.

Best Adventure Movies: Harrison Ford as Indiana Jones in Raiders of the Lost Ark

Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981)

If the adventure has a name, it must be Indiana Jones. Born from two of the most influential directors of all time, the first Man in the Hat film manages to fill every second with excitement. Raiders of the Lost Ark is not just a phenomenal introduction to the hero who is a hybrid of Han Solo and 007, but just a nearly perfect movie in its entirety.

Harrison Ford’s grumbling good guy takes us on a roller coaster ride, which you never want to get off. Can you honestly imagine the history of cinema without him?

Best Adventure Movies: Macauley Culkin and Oprah Winfrey in The Pagemaster

The Pagemaster (1994)

You’re never alone with a good book, and this crossover of live action and animation is proof of that. When young Richard Tyler (Macauley Culkin) escapes into a library during a thunderstorm, he gets drawn into a mythical animated quest involving some of the finest novels ever written.

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Three anthropomorphic books, Horror (Frank Welker), Fantasy (Whoopi Goldberg), and Adventure (Patrick Stewart), provide Richard with company on the perilous journey. Joe Johnston of Captain America: The First Avenger did the parts live, while Maurice Hunt did the animated scenes. Classic literary scenes and characters are brought to a bright and colorful life, provided that, as the Pagemaster himself says, anything is possible.

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