10 Best Adventure Movies Of The 21st Century (According To IMDb)

Adventure movies seem to be a dying breed. The ’80s saw many outright adventure movies like The Goonies and the Indiana Jones series, but unfortunately, Hollywood doesn’t seem to make ’em like that anymore. Instead, the definition of “adventure movie” has morphed throughout the years to where it’s mostly blended with the likes of action and spy movies— especially ones that traverse the globe, James Bond style.

Nowadays, the action/adventure is far more popular and prevalent than straightforward adventure. Luckily, these action adventure films are exceptional pieces of escapist entertainment and share a lot of the DNA of the dedicated adventure movies of years gone by.

10 Star Wars: Episode III – Revenge Of The Sith — 7.5

A lot of people rag on the Star Wars prequels, and in general, they are often considered far inferior products to the original trilogy. But Revenge of the Sith— the third and final entry in the prequel series— is actually quite good. It sits at 7.5 on IMDb,  far ahead of both The Phantom Menace‘s and Attack of the Clones‘ ratings.

Many people appreciate the conclusive storyline, the sense of adventure, and the sense of tragedy present in the story’s progression and ending.

9 O Brother, Where Art Thou? — 7.7

The Coen Brothers’ O Brother, Where Art Thou? can certainly be considered an adventure film. The movie blends the mythologies of ancient Greece and the American South, serving as a loose adaptation of Homer’s Odyssey.

Odyssey is often considered one of the most influential and quintessential adventure stories ever told, and while O Brother, Where Art Thou? obviously isn’t a 1:1 adaptation, it still contains many of the best aspects of its iconic source material.


8 Cast Away – 7.8

It doesn’t get much more adventurous than a story about a lone castaway. This Tom Hanks-led film was absolutely massive, with high critical praise and box office tallies to match. Tom Hanks’ performance as Chuck Noland was also widely acclaimed, earning him his fifth Academy Award nomination— though he lost to Russell Crowe in Gladiator.

Many aspects of the movie are still widely referenced and meme’d to this day, including the famous fire-starting sequence and the entire Wilson “character.” It’s a thrilling and wonderfully touching film.

7 Harry Potter And The Prisoner Of Azkaban — 7.9

All of the Harry Potter films films were received well, but Prisoner of Azkaban is often considered to be the greatest of them all. This was director Alfonso Cuarón’s only go-round in the Harry Potter universe, but his aesthetic changed how the films looked and felt even after his exit.

Gone were the fanciful, magical days under Chris Columbus after Prisoner of Azkaban, a darker and more adventurous outing highlighted by Cuarón’s exceptional filmmaking style.

6 The Revenant — 8.0

By all accounts, The Revenant was a real pain to create. Star Leonardo DiCaprio not only risked his health, but many people on the crew quit over the rigorous filming conditions or were just outright fired by director Alejandro González Iñárritu for failing to adapt.

These problems are definitely noticeable through the film itself, as simply watching it proves an exercise in patience and horror. It’s a gorgeously expansive and adventurous film, but it’s certainly a hard one to sit through by design.

5 Mad Max: Fury Road — 8.1

Mad Max: Fury Road offers up a thrilling sense of place and adventure. There’s Immortan Joe’s Citadel; the massive sandstorm the characters drive into; the rocky and expansive canyon featuring the biker gang; and the epic salt flats that the characters decide to abandon.

And best of all, in between all these gorgeous locations are some of the best vehicular action ever put to film. Perhaps the classic adventure movie genre isn’t quite dead after all, as Fury Road feels very much of that tradition.

4 Avengers: Infinity War — 8.4

There was a lot riding on Infinity War, serving as the culmination of ten years’ worth of story— and its expansive budget, with some estimates placing it around $400 million, promised a spectacle unlike anything before seen on a theater screen.

Luckily, Infinity War delivered in spades. The massive cast was exceptional, as was the long-awaited debut of Thanos as the primary antagonist. And then of course there’s the ending, which is undeniably one of the most famous— not to mention shocking— endings of the decade.

3 Interstellar — 8.6

It doesn’t get much more expansive and adventurous than Christopher Nolan’s Interstellar, a movie as epic and bewildering as space itself. The movie surprisingly lukewarm reviews from professional critics, resulting in some of the lowest scores of Nolan’s career— though scores were by no means in the “negative” range.

Most of the criticism stemmed from the movie’s general lack of emotion, relying on splendor and extravagance over a grounded human story. But what splendor and extravagance it is, especially in its IMAX version.

2 Inception — 8.8

Inception is sometimes considered Christopher Nolan’s best work, and for good reason— it brilliantly combines the spectacle he’s so well known for with a tragic human story about grief and guilt. Many praise Inception for its seemingly boundless imagination and unbelievable filmmaking.

But what makes Inception so great (and arguably better than Interstellar) is the tragic and humane story at its core. This movie is about overcoming grief just as much as it is about blowing audiences’ minds with movie wizardry.

1 The Lord Of The Rings: The Return Of The King — 8.9

As great as all these movies are, The Lord of the Rings will always remain the King— or Lord?— of the adventure genre. All three films are equally beloved and well-rated, but Return of the King is the highest-rated of them all. This movie does everything a good adventure movie should, including telling a thrilling and magnetic story filled with fantastic characters and boundless imagination.

Even though the movie is nearly 20 years old, its filmmaking has yet to be overtaken. It is a candidate for best adventure film of any decade— if not best film, period.

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About The Author

Nathan Sharp (852 Articles Published)

Nathan Sharp is a writer from outside Toronto, Ontario. He has a love of movies and television, having enjoyed them for more than twenty years. His preferences include drama, action, and horror, with the former being a particular point of interest and fascination.

He also has a love of video games, particularly those of Rockstar.

Whether it be about film, television, or video games, Nathan loves a good discussion and has written hundreds of articles for Screen Rant.

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