Everybody knows Indiana Jones. Arguably one of the greatest adventure movies of all time, cementing a genre into the hearts of millions of movie-goers and adventure-lovers. It introduced us to one of the greatest adventurers of all time and left us looking for other movies that gave off an Indiana Jones, classic adventure vibe.
If you’re a fan of epic adventure stories – far-off lands, expeditions into the unknown, voyages on the high-seas, non-stop action, monsters, heroes, villains, treasure hunting, digging up old stuff, ancient curses and a flair for the dramatic – this list of classic adventure movies is made for you.
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Enjoy this list of epic classic adventure movies – both old and new.
1. Raiders of the Lost Ark
We have to start off with the movies that all adventure movies are compared to: the epic stories of Indiana Jones. If you’re looking for adventure with a capital A, Raiders of the Lost Ark is definitely your movie. The 1981 classic was directed by Steven Spielberg and stars Harrison Ford as Indiana Jones – an adventurous archaeologist who races against time to find the Ark of the Covenant before his arch-rival does.
2. Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom
The second of the Indiana Jones franchise, Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, stars Harrison Ford again as Indiana Jones, this time as he discovers an ancient Indian temple. This movie was directed by Steven Spielberg and premiered on May 23rd, 1984. Critics weren’t as crazy about this addition as Indiana Jones’ other adventures because of its serious tone; it’s a bit darker when compared to Raiders of the Lost Ark.
3. Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade
Released in 1989, Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade was directed by Steven Spielberg and starred Harrison Ford, Sean Connery, Denholm Elliott, Alison Doody, John Rhys-Davies, Julian Glover, and River Phoenix. The third film in the Indiana Jones franchise has been hailed as a return to form for the series; it was both a box office success and a critical darling. Set during World War II, the movie follows an intrepid archaeologist (Ford) on his quest to find the Holy Grail before it falls into the hands of Nazis.
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4. The Mummy
If you enjoy a classic adventure movie, then you should definitely watch The Mummy.
The 1999 film was a box office hit, and it’s easy to see why: it’s got the same adventurous vibe as the series starring Harrison Ford. Where Indiana Jones has Nazis to deal with, the crew in The Mummy have ancient curses and mummies returning to life—and more than enough action to carry the storyline along.
In this movie, Brendan Fraser plays Rick O’Connell, an American who encounters archaeologist Evelyn Carnahan (Rachel Weisz) in Egypt and together they end up in pursuit of treasure and running from an ancient and deadly curse.
The film spawned two sequels; if you liked this movie you’ll want to check those out too!
5. Around the World in 80 Days
Around the World in 80 Days is a classic Jules Verne novel about Phileas Fogg and his bet to travel around the world in 80 days. Written in 1873, it was a turn-of-the-century story that gripped the imaginations of many adventurers to come. It has since been adapted into several films with newly imagined characters along with its original ones. The most recent adaptation was released in 2004 and stars Jackie Chan as Passepartout, one of the main characters of the novel.
6. Romancing the Stone
Romancing the Stone is a great adventure film that was released in 1984 and stars Michael Douglas and Kathleen Turner. It’s nothing if not a fun ride.
The movie begins in New York where Joan Wilder is a romance novelist who lives an uneventful life living vicariously through the adventures of her characters. When her sister gets kidnapped she flies to Colombia to help with the ransom exchange, but quickly finds herself dealing with much more than she bargained for and must fight her fears for better or worse as she travels across Colombia with a rugged but obnoxious guide, who incidentally has an Indiana vibe to him.
Romancing the Stone is a classic adventure movie filled with witty dialogue and action every step of the way.
7. The Jewel of the Nile
After you finish Romancing the Stone you should move on to The Jewel of the Nile. Another great adventure movie to watch. Michael Douglas and Kathleen Turner reprise their roles as Jack Colton and Joan Wilder, two romantics who fall into an Arabian Nights style adventure in search of jewels and treasure. Danny DeVito co-stars as a villain, who partners up with Joan’s ex-husband Ralph to capture Jack and Joan in order to get his hands on their newly discovered jewel.
8. Wild America
Wild America is an action-adventure movie based on the real-life adventures of nature filmmaker Marty Stouffer. It follows Marty and his two brothers as they travel across the country in search of the most magnificent wildlife in North America for a documentary. This was one of my favorite movies as a kid and still holds up every time I rewatch it.
9. The Goonies
The Goonies—a film about a band of children who embark on an adventure to find pirate treasure in order to save their neighborhood from being swallowed up by a country club—is a beloved classic that has left an indelible mark on pop culture.
Directed by Richard Donner, The Goonies features a diverse cast of popular actors including Sean Astin, Josh Brolin, Corey Feldman and Martha Plimpton. It’s also based on a story by Indiana Jones director, Steven Spielberg.
A major part of the film’s enduring legacy is the memorable quotes: Goonies Never Say Die.
10. National Treasure
In this National Treasure (2004) starring Nicolas Cage we follow two treasure hunters who are obsessed with finding one of the most legendary treasures in history by deciphering clues from books, paintings and symbols from our nation’s history. One clue leads to another leading to a deadly game that could threaten the country’s future.
This classic adventure movie is based on a true story. Frank Hopkins (Viggo Mortensen) and his stallion Hidalgo join the Ocean of Fire race, a deadly race across the Arabian Desert. Frank and Hidalgo have to battle their way to the finish line against both the other riders and the dangerous elements. Though it’s not entirely historically accurate, it’s still a great adventure movie.
12. Treasure Island
For those looking for a classic adventure tale, you can’t do much better than Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson. A coming-of-age story that follows young Jim Hawkins as he gets involved with pirates and adventures at sea. Treasure Island is one of the most popular pirate novels in history. It’s been turned into a film many times and it’s worth checking out some of the various adaptations. It also inspired the next movie on this list…
13. Treasure Planet
In Treasure Planet, Joseph Gordon-Levitt plays Jim Hawkins, a rebellious teenager with a passion for space travel. But when he meets John Silver, a cyborg cook, and comes into possession of a treasure map, he finds himself aboard the Legacy on the search for Treasure Planet. Alongside him are Dr. Doppler and spaceship captain Amelia and a number of eclectic aliens. The crew sets off to search for the treasure in a cyberpunk-esque space adventure, based on the classic tale of Treasure Island.
This is hands-down one of my favorite movies on this list.
Togo is a 2019 American drama film directed by Ericson Core. The film stars Willem Dafoe. It’s based on the 1925 serum run to Nome, Alaska in which dog-sled musher Leonhard Seppala and his lead sled dog Togo transported diphtheria antitoxin serum via sled through harsh conditions during an epidemic of diphtheria.
This movie tells the true story behind the legend of Balto the sled dog and is equal parts breathtaking epic adventure and heartwarming true story.
A film based on the video game series of the same name, Uncharted features a young Nathan Drake (Tom Holland), a treasure hunter who’s out searching for some lost treasure with the help of his partner Sully (Mark Wahlberg). If you’re a fan of the video game you might enjoy this movie, or it might disappoint. Movie adaptations of video games often fall short of what fans want, but this one is at least a decent adventure movie overall.
16. Murder on the Orient Express
Murder on the Orient Express is a 2017 film based on the Agatha Christie novel of the same name. The star-studded classic whodunit follows detective Hercule Poirot as he investigates a murder aboard the Orient Express.
This is not, however, the first adaptation of this famous murder mystery adventure. In 1974, director Sidney Lumet adapted one of Christie’s most cherished works for film audiences with some help from an all-star cast that included Lauren Bacall and Ingrid Bergman.
17. Death on the Nile
If you’re looking for a classic adventure movie that offers some degree of intellectual stimulation, check out Death on the Nile. Based on Agatha Christie’s bestselling novel of the same name. The modern remake features a star-studded cast including Gal Gadot, Armie Hammer, Letitia Wright, Kenneth Branagh and Annette Bening.
The film follows detective Hercule Poirot (Branagh) as he attempts to solve a murder mystery aboard a cruise ship in the beautiful country of Egypt. Yes, this movie offers action and adventure—but it also challenges viewers to keep up with its twisty plot!
Sahara is a 2005 action-adventure film starring Matthew McConaughey, Penélope Cruz and Steve Zahn. The story is based on a novel of the same name by Clive Cussler and, not surprisingly, it’s packed with thrills and excitement. It’s even better if you’re an Indiana Jones fan who has been waiting to see an adventure film that feels like one of the old flicks.
In Sahara you’ll be in for a treat as the story is set in Africa where treasure hunter Dirk Pitt sets out to find a lost Civil War battleship rumored to have gold on board. Along with his partner Al Giordino he goes on a thrilling adventure full of twists and turns that will keep you on the edge of your seat until the end.
The movie was released in 2005 and while it’s not going to win any Oscars it’s still a fun ride with all the elements of a classic adventure movie.
19. Jungle Cruise
This movie, like Pirates of the Caribbean, is based on a Disney theme park ride. The Jungle Cruise ride has been part of Disneyland since 1955 and the movie is billed as a retro-style adventure in the vein of Indiana Jones. The movie stars Dwayne Johnson and Emily Blunt as a mismatched pair who must team up on an expedition that takes several turns off the map.
20. Jumanji (1995)
Jumanji is another fantasy adventure movie and it is based on a children’s picture book. The movie stars Robin Williams and revolves around the adventures of the main character, Alan Parrish. If you enjoyed either of the new Jumanji movies, you should check out the original one.
The movie is about a fantasy board game that has dangerous consequences for those playing it. When siblings Judy and Peter find an old jungle-themed board game called Jumanji in their new house, they decide to play it. The catch? This game has a bad habit of coming to life.
21. Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle
The plot of Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle is similar to that of the original film. In this version, instead of a board game, a video game sucks the players into its world.
It stars Dwayne Johnson, Jack Black, Kevin Hart and Karen Gillan as well as Nick Jonas in a supporting role and is a complete roller coaster of actions and laughs.
22. Jumanji: The Next Level
If you’re looking for your next adventure fix after watching the first two Jumani movies, then Jumanji: The Next Level may be the movie for you. This 2019 sequel to 2017’s Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle follows the same group of friends as they make their way back through the video game.
There’s a little glitch in the game this time around though.
23. The Pagemaster
If you love classic adventure stories, then you’ll love The Pagemaster. It’s a blend of live-action and animation and gives old classics new life.
The Pagemaster is one of those movies that I absolutely loved as a kid. It’s a great way to introduce classic books to kids. The plot follows a young, bookish boy named Richard who ends up in a world where books are literally alive. He has to adventure through the worlds of classic books like Treasure Island and Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde in order to make it back home, and along the way learns the value of reading and having imagination.
Pixar’s animated film Up follows the remarkable journey of an old, grumpy man named Carl.
Carl and his wife Ellie saved up money for years to make their dream of traveling the world come true. However, Ellie dies before they can do so. Carl plans to fulfill their dream by tying thousands of balloons to his house and flying it away. He’s joined by a young boy scout, a dog who loves everyone he meets, and a giant endangered bird.
This is a great adventure movie for the whole family. If you haven’t seen it absolutely put it on your watchlist!
25. The Call of the Wild
This movie, based on the beloved novel of the same name, tells the story of a dog named Buck. When Buck gets stolen and sold in the Yukon during the Gold Rush of 1890, he is forced to adapt to life in the wild as a sled dog. Harrison Ford plays John Thornton, an adventurer (a slightly milder character than his previous Indiana Jones adventurer role) who rescues Buck. The pair soon become inseparable companions.
This movie is similar in some ways to Togo between the real-life historical setting, the bond between humans and dogs, and the incredible wilderness setting. It also has a special place in my heart because the dog in the movie (who is actually CGI) looks A LOT like my dog Zeus.
26. Prince of Persia
Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time is an action-adventure film starring Jake Gyllenhaal as Dastan. The movie is based on the popular video game of the same name. Alongside Gemma Arterton’s Tamina and Ben Kingsley’s Nizam, they must try to safeguard an ancient dagger that can turn back time. This movie is a fun, action-packed, and fantastical adventure that you’ll enjoy whether or not you’ve played the game.
Stardust is a fantasy adventure film that was released in 2007. Directed by Matthew Vaughn, it stars Charlie Cox, from the popular Daredevil tv show. The movie is based on a novel by Neil Gaiman, and includes action, adventure, romance, pirates, witches, and more!
This story takes place in 19th-century England. A young man named Tristan seeks out a fallen star to impress his crush Victoria. He promises to bring her the star if she agrees to marry him. However, there’s a catch: he has to travel past the wall into an area that’s filled with witches and evil sorcerers, and on top of that the star may not be everything he expected.
The story follows the hero and many others through a magic-filled world as they all race to get to the star first.
28. The Adventures of Tintin
Unlike Indiana Jones, Tintin is less of an adventurer and more of a reporter. Despite this fact, he still finds himself in some crazy situations.
The story revolves around a boy reporter named Tintin who solves crimes alongside his faithful dog, Snowy. In this adventure movie, the pair find themselves at the center of a whodunit that takes them all over the world.
29. 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea
With 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, we’re going underwater. Shocking, I know. This 1954 movie is based on the classic adventure story by Jules Verne. Don’t let the fact that it’s old stop you from checking it out. It’s one of the great classic adventure movies that everyone should see at least once.
The story of Captain Nemo has become something of a legend, solidifying his place in the halls of adventure stories throughout history. 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea unlike anything else on this list.
30. Sinbad: Legend of the Seven Seas
The stories of Sinbad the sailor are famous and plenty. There are tons of Sinbad movies to choose from, but this animated version is a lighthearted, fun adventure that everyone will love. It stars Brad Pitt as the voice of the adventure-seeking Sinbad as he gets caught up in a scheme bigger than he ever planned after trying to steal a priceless treasure.
Hook is a classic adventure movie that tells the story of Robin Williams as an adult Peter Pan. You probably remember him best as the boy who never grew up in J.M Barrie’s Peter Pan, but this time he has a new name; Peter Banning, and he’s all grown up and spends his days in an office. However, when his two children are kidnapped, Peter must return to Neverland as an adult and remember who he truly is—Peter Pan!
Just like Indiana Jones, Hook was directed by Spielberg, and there’s no shortage of epic action and adventure in this classic.
32. Pirates of the Caribbean
The first Pirates of the Caribbean movie, Curse of the Black Pearl, is a great movie that created an instant fanbase. It’s fun and romantic, but also captures an authentic flavor of swashbuckling adventure. Johhny Depp was famous before, but it’s arguable that Pirates of the Caribbean is what shot him into super-stardom as the unforgettable character of Jack Sparrow.
Antonio Banderas stars as the famous Zorro in this classic adventure movie.
Zorro is a classic folk hero, fighting for the people against the rich and corrupt. As the previous Zorro grows old and has all he loves taken from him, the torch is passed to a young man, who is less than impressive at first but learns to navigate his new role as the masked hero of the people.
34. The Thief and the Cobbler
Another classic animated adventure movie, the Thief and the Cobbler is completely unique. From the animation itself to the characters and story, there’s nothing ordinary about this movie.
The film was in production for 30 years, so there are several versions of the movie. For example, it’s also known by the name Arabian Knight. But, if you can find a copy of the original director’s cut, watch it first. You can probably find it on Youtube, like this version here. It’s the only version that features hand-drawn animation (no CGI), which gives the film more of an old-school vibe.
35. King Kong
King Kong is a 2005 epic monster adventure film co-written, produced, and directed by Peter Jackson. The film stars Naomi Watts, Jack Black, Adrien Brody, and, through motion capture, Andy Serkis as the title character, Kong. Set in 1930s New York City, King Kong tells the story of an ambitious filmmaker who coerces his cast and hired ship crew to go on an expedition to the mysterious island where they find Kong.
36. King Kong: Skull Island
King Kong: Skull Island follows a group of scientists and Vietnam War soldiers who travel to an uncharted island in the Pacific and encounter giant, terrifying creatures and their king, the mighty Kong. It has an all-star cast including Tom Hiddleston, Brie Larson, Samuel L. Jackson, John Goodman, John C. Reilly.
37. Kingdom of Heaven
There’s no shortage of excellent adventure movies, but Kingdom of Heaven still stands out. This epic historical drama film invites you to witness the Crusades of the 12th century. The plot revolves around a French blacksmith, played by Orlando Bloom, who travels to Jerusalem during the First Crusade and there finds himself as the defender of the city and its people.
38. The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen
The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen (2003) is a movie that tells the story of a group of extraordinary individuals who have been recruited to participate in an elite league. They are tasked with saving the world from “a madman bent on destroying civilization.” The league is comprised of many classic characters you may be familiar with, including Allan Quartermain, Captain Nemo, Mina Harker, Tom Sawyer, Dr. Jekyll & Mr Hyde, Dorian Gray, and Rodney Skinner.
39. Road to El Dorado
If you like adventure movies, then you will definitely love the animated movie The Road to El Dorado.
The Road to El Dorado is an adventure movie about two Spanish con-men, Miguel and Tulio, who, after stowing away on a conquistador’s ship, end up more or less stumbling into the mythical city of El Dorado. Comedy and adventures ensue as the pair are mistaken for gods by the people of El Dorado, but danger follows Miguel and Tulio forcing them to figure out how to save the city from their own people.
It’s a fun family adventure movie that’s sure to be enjoyed by all ages.
40. Atlantis: The Lost Empire
A classic expedition movie with a group of explorers that find their way to the mystical lost city of Atlantis. This movie harks back to the same Indiana Jones-esque era of adventurers and features a cast of incredibly entertaining characters. The action is non-stop, it has far-off lands (actually far-under, technically) a search for treasure and the fight between good and evil. All and all a great family adventure movie.
41. Tomb Raider
There are several Tomb Raider movies and video games. I’m partial to the Angelina Jolie versions as over-the-top as they might be. If you’re going to enjoy them you can’t take them too seriously. Manage that and they’re fast, fun, action-filled adventure movies.
42. Dora and the Lost City of Gold
This feels like a super weird one to add to this list. Even though there are definitely kids movies on the list, Dora just feels like waaaaay too kid movie-ish. Or so I thought.
That’s why I was so surprised when I watched it. The makers of this family adventure film did an amazing job leaning into the original concept of the Dora the Explorer tv show, but made it entertaining enough to appeal to a wider age range.
You’ll just have to trust me on this, if you haven’t seen it, give it a chance.
43. The Lost City
Lots of lost cities in these last few suggestions on the list, huh?
This movie is actually a new adventure/comedy starring Sandra Bullock and Channing Tatum, with a little guest appearance by Brad Pitt. It feels slightly inspired by the earlier-mentioned Romancing the Stone movie, at least in that the main character is a reclusive writer who writes adventure books, and she then gets caught up in one of her own adventures. She’s also joined on her reluctant quest by her overly-enthusiastic cover model, played by Channing Tatum.
That should be enough movies for at least a weekend, right? Let me know if you think of any other movies that give off a classic adventure vibe and we can add ’em to the list!