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Adventure Films: Your Ticket to the Extraordinary

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During the COVID-19 pandemic people all over the world have used films more than ever as a form of escapism, giving themselves a break from day-to-day life to experience the extraordinary, whether that’s to get their pulse racing watching a horror or to be transported to another world in a sci-fi.

While films can straddle multiple genres, films that most comfortably fit within the adventure genre quite often occur in places that we’re familiar with but where something unexpected or out of the ordinary happens.

Take 2004’s National Treasure for instance. Several scenes take place in well-known locations across America – including the National Archives Building in Washington, DC, where hundreds of thousands of people have visited – but suddenly these locations are revealed to hold secret clues to a fabled treasure. 

There are two films and one series that come to my mind when thinking about adventure films:

The Indiana Jones series (1981, 1984, 1989, 2008)

A still from the film Raiders of the Lost Ark.

Raiders of the Lost Ark [Paramount Pictures]

Indiana Jones, portrayed by Harrison Ford throughout the series, needs no introduction, but in case you’re unfamiliar with him, he’s an archaeologist and college professor who spends a lot of time ‘out in the field’ searching for lost artifacts.

The first film takes places in the 1930s and throughout the course of the series we follow along as Indiana hunts for the Holy Grail and the Ark of the Covenant, as well as taking on Nazis and working alongside his father, Indiana Jones Sr., memorably played by Sean Connery.

A still from the film Romancing the Stone.

Romancing the Stone [20th Century Fox]

Romancing the Stone (1984)

Romancing the Stone is a joyful, fun film with likeable characters, plenty of comedic moments and a very Eighties soundtrack. Michael Douglas stars opposite Kathleen Turner as a roguish treasure seeker who begrudgingly chaperones Turner’s romance novelist when she arrives in Colombia on a quest to help her kidnapped sister.

Danny DeVito co-stars and it has all the hallmarks of a great adventure film: our heroes get into plenty of scrapes but always live to tell the tale, and while there is a romantic element, it never gets too schmaltzy.

The Mummy (1999)

A still from the 1999 film The Mummy.

The Mummy [Universal Pictures]

The Mummy is another example of opposites attracting, as Brendan Fraser’s American explorer, Richard ‘Rick’ O’Connell, discovers when he meets a beautiful British librarian, Rachel Weisz’s Evelyn ‘Evy’ Carnahan, who has accidentally revived the mummified corpse of an Egyptian priest intent on destroying the world.

Rick O’Connell bares many similarities to Indiana Jones but he’s more of a swashbuckling extrovert rather than Jones’ almost antihero personality. As with elements of the Indiana Jones series, The Mummy takes inspiration from history, referencing ancient texts such as the Egyptian Book of the Dead.

The future of adventure

A running theme throughout all these films is that while there is always an element of peril, everything ends well. There may be moments that frighten us, and there is usually a love interest, but the focus firmly stays on the adventure.

Someone who is rapidly building their adventure film star credentials is Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson. Johnson has a varied portfolio, frequently appearing in more light-hearted films alongside roles in the Fast & Furious franchise and the upcoming Black Adam from DC Studios.

Walt Disney Studio’s Jungle Cruise, which Johnson stars in opposite Emily Blunt and Jack Whitehall, is scheduled to be released in July and looks like another fun ride that is firmly set within the adventure genre; Johnson’s riverboat captain Frank Wolff will escort Blunt and Whitehall’s brother-sister duo as they search for the magical Tree of Life.

The rebooted Jumanji series, which stars Johnson opposite Jack Black, Kevin Hart, Karen Gillan and Nick Jonas, is also another fun-filled adventure series that looks set to continue to thrill audiences for years to come following both critical and audience acclaim for the first two films.

The future looks strong for this always-entertaining genre. 

  • What are some of your favourite adventure films?

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Adventure

Cannon Arm and the Arcade Quest

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Cannon Arm and the Arcade Quest is a deadly serious comedy film about friendship and arcade games that’ll surely put a smile on your face and tug at your heartstrings. Set at Bip Bip Bar, it tells the story of a group of unlikely heroes aka friends who help Kim Cannon Arm attempts to be the first in the world to play Gyruss an arcade machine from the early 80s for 100 consecutive hours. The film showcases these heroic outsiders with dreams about becoming legendary world record holders. 

Watching Kim and his friends embark on this quest was certainly like preparing for a marathon as Kim’s friends make him get an annual physical checkup from the doctor, It was easy to get swept up and share their excitement. Director Mads Hedegaard introduces these bunch of endearing misfits who truly make up a kind and supportive community. We learn several details about each of Kim’s friends including careers, favourite games, bands, family life and plenty more. Each are unique and the Documentary made me feel like I’d known this group my whole life. 

The film is also able to capture the gaming atmosphere as it blasts through the 80s with synths and neon lights, which created a stylised, exhilarating journey into Kim’s brain and the world of Gyruss. Montages and Iron maiden tracks also feature and “I Need a Hero” by Bonnie Tyler features, which to me represented each member and the story which was ultimately made for pure entertainment. 

Themes of achieving success is a presence in this documentary as it has scenes filled with pure joy, sentimental bliss and deep philosophical moments of the loss of a friend and acceptance. As we watch Kim make his way through hours and hours of his challenge we see his friends are always with him for comfort and to help keep track. They play Iron maiden music to boost his moral but its clear to me that with friends like this, Kim has already won. 

https://youtu.be/d-AidtIZF64

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Action

HBO Max | House of the Dragon

The story of the Targaryen civil war that took place about 300 years before events portrayed in “Game of Thrones.”



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Genre:

Action, Adventure, Drama

Release Date:

January 1, 2022

Director:

Miguel Sapochnik

Cast:

Milly Alcock, Eve Best, Emily Carey

Plot Summary:

The story of the House Targaryen set 200 years before the events of Game of Thrones (2011).

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Action

Spider-Man: No Way Home | Official Teaser Trailer

Spider-Man: No Way Home is an upcoming American superhero film based on the Marvel Comics character Spider-Man, co-produced by Columbia Pictures and Marvel Studios, and distributed by Sony Pictures Releasing.



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Genre:

Action, Adventure, Sci-fi

Release Date:

December 17, 2021

Director:

Jon Watts

Cast:

Tom Holland, Zendaya, Jamie Foxx, Benedict Cumberbatch, Alfred Molina, Jacob Batalon, J.K. Simmons

Plot Summary:

Spider-Man: No Way Home is an upcoming American superhero film based on the Marvel Comics character Spider-Man, co-produced by Columbia Pictures and Marvel Studios, and distributed by Sony Pictures Releasing.

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