The 30 Best Adventure Movies of All Time

Let the journey begin

best adventure movies wrinkle in time
Disney Enterprises, Inc.

Perhaps you have the sudden urge to live vicariously through fictional heroes as they travel through time and space. Or maybe you're in the mood for a magical tale that'll spark your imagination and take you to a new world. Regardless, if you’re a sucker for thrilling stories and heart-pumping action, you simply have to watch these films: the best adventure movies of all time.

From timeless gems like Steven Spielberg's Raiders of the Lost Ark to mind-bending indie films like Everything Everywhere All at Once, keep reading for 30 movies that'll take you on an exciting journey.

1. Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981) 

  • Cast: Harrison Ford, Karen Allen, Paul Freeman, Ronald Lacey, John Rhys-Davies
  • Run Time: 115 minutes
  • Rating: PG

In the film, the legendary, whip-cracking archaeologist is tasked with finding the Ark of the Covenant—a powerful ancient relic—before Nazi German forces get to it and wreak havoc. Directed by Steven Spielberg, the iconic film expertly balances heart-pumping action with mystery, comedy and fantasy elements. Not to mention Ford's captivating performance. 

2. Back to the Future (1985)

  • Cast: Michael J. Fox, Christopher Lloyd, Lea Thompson, Crispin Glover, Thomas F. Wilson
  • Run Time: 116 minutes
  • Rating: PG

Follow the misadventures of Marty McFly, a teen who accidentally time-travels to the year 1955 with a time machine built by his scientist pal, Doc. Cringe-worthy mother-son scene aside, this timeless classic explores themes like fate, family and reconciliation.

3. Mad Max: Fury Road (2015) 

  • Cast: Tom Hardy, Charlize Theron, Nicholas Hoult, Hugh Keays-Byrne
  • Run Time: 120 minutes
  • Rating: R

Set in a post-apocalyptic wasteland, war captain Imperator Furiosa turns against Immortan Joe, a ruthless cult leader, and liberates his five wives. After they escape, they meet former captive Max Rockatansky, who teams up with them to outrun the evil leader and his men. If you like intense survival films that feature heroic characters and focus on teamwork, you'll enjoy this one.

4. The Man Who Would Be King (1975) 

  • Cast: Sean Connery, Michael Caine, Christopher Plummer, Saeed Jaffrey
  • Run Time: 129 minutes
  • Rating: PG

To escape their lives as soldiers, military officers Peachy and Danny travel to the remote land of Kafiristan, where they're embraced by the natives and treated like leaders. Thanks to a few misunderstandings, however, everyone starts to think that Danny is a god, and he plays along—but can he keep up this act?

5. National Treasure (2004)

  • Cast: Nicolas Cage, Harvey Keitel, Jon Voight, Diane Kruger, Sean Bean
  • Run Time: 131 minutes
  • Rating: PG

Cage is Ben Gates, a historian and cryptographer who joins treasure hunter Ian Howe for an exciting expedition. But after stumbling upon an important clue, he's betrayed by his partner and races to find the lost treasure before his former colleague does.

6. The Princess Bride (1987)

  • Cast: Cary Elwes, Robin Wright, Mandy Patinkin, Chris Sarandon
  • Run Time: 98 minutes
  • Rating: PG

Join Westley—or shall we say the Man in Black—as he embarks on the ultimate adventure to rescue his true love, Buttercup, from the evil Prince Humperdinck. Told by a grandfather to his grandson, the fun story has all the makings of a memorable fairytale, from romance and funny one-liners to sword fights and rodents of unusual sizes.

7. The Hunger Games (2001) 

  • Cast: Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, Liam Hemsworth, Woody Harrelson, Elizabeth Banks
  • Run Time: 142 minutes
  • Rating: PG

Independent and incredibly resourceful, Katniss Everdeen goes from tribute to hero as she competes in the annual Hunger Games as a tribute from District 12. The televised spectacle is action-packed and intense, and the characters are compelling. But viewers will appreciate how the film tackles power, class, survival and loyalty.

8. Aliens (1986)

  • Cast: Sigourney Weaver, Michael Biehn, Paul Reiser
  • Run Time: 137 minutes
  • Rating: R

Nearly six decades after surviving an alien attack on her ship, Officer Ellen Ripley is summoned to help a team of skilled colonial marines go up against the sinister creatures once again. There's no shortage of suspense and heart-pumping action, and Weaver's performance is Oscar-worthy.

9. Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse (2023)

  • Cast: Shameik Moore, Hailee Steinfeld, Brian Tyree Henry, Lauren Vélez
  • Run Time: 140 minutes
  • Rating: PG

Miles and Gwen's wild journey through the multiverse is an adventure we didn't know we needed. In this sequel to Into the Spider-Verse, the duo meets the members of the Spider-Society. However, this new alliance goes south when he clashes with the team on how to handle a new threat. Aside from the stunning animation, this heartwarming coming-of-age tale explores key themes like identity, free will and loss.

10. Journey to the Center of the Earth (2008) 

  • Cast: Brendan Fraser, Josh Hutcherson, Anita Briem, and Seth Meyers
  • Run Time: 93 minutes
  • Rating: PG

When a volcanologist, his nephew and their guide get trapped in a cave during an expedition, they have no choice but to go deeper. The trio ends up falling into a hole that takes them to the center of the Earth. They encounter fascinating creatures and strange places on their journey, but as they go deeper, they realize they must find a way out—and fast.

11. Everything Everywhere All at Once (2022) 

  • Cast: Michelle Yeoh, Stephanie Hsu, Ke Huy Quan, Jenny Slate
  • Run Time: 139 minutes
  • Rating:

It's quite rare to see a thought-provoking film that successfully combines drama, comedy, fantasy, adventure, sci-fi and martial arts, yet Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert made it look like child's play. In Everything Everywhere, Evelyn, a Chinese-American immigrant, discovers that she must use her newfound powers to stop a powerful being from destroying the multiverse.

12. The Wizard of Oz (1939)

  • Cast: Judy Garland, Frank Morgan, Ray Bolger, Bert Lahr
  • Run Time: 101 minutes
  • Rating: R

Welcome back to the land of Oz, where Dorothy and her new friends embark on a fun journey to see the magical Wizard in Emerald City. The gorgeous technicolor, the Munchkinland sequence and the catchy musical numbers are just a few things that make this movie so timeless.

13. The Goonies (1985)

  • Cast: Sean Astin, Josh Brolin, Jeff Cohen, Corey Feldman, Kerri Green, Martha Plimpton
  • Run Time: 114 minutes
  • Rating: PG

Directed by Richard Donner, The Goonies follows a group of kids who embark on a thrilling new adventure while trying to save their homes from foreclosure. The task? To find ancient treasure that was left behind by a legendary 17th-century pirate.

14. Jurassic Park (1993)

  • Cast: Sam Neill, Laura Dern, Jeff Goldblum, Richard Attenborough
  • Run Time: 127 minutes
  • Rating: PG-13

Set on the island of Isla Nublar, John Hammond and a team of scientists have created a successful wildlife park populated by cloned dinosaurs. All seems well at first, but chaos ensues when the park is sabotaged by a corporate rival. As a result, the dinosaurs start to prey on a small group of visitors struggling to escape.

15. Tenet (2020)

  • Cast: John David Washington, Robert Pattinson, Elizabeth Debicki, Dimple Kapadia
  • Run Time: 150 minutes
  • Rating: PG-13

In this gripping sci-fi thriller, a former CIA agent, simply known as "the Protagonist," is recruited by a secret organization called Tenet to travel through time and prevent World War III.

16. King Kong (2005) 

  • Cast: Naomi Watts, Jack Black, Adrien Brody, Thomas Kretschmann
  • Run Time: 188 minutes
  • Rating: PG-13

A filmmaker convinces his cast and crew to explore the mysterious Skull Island, which is said to have a giant gorilla. When they arrive and learn that King Kong is a real, 25-foot-tall gorilla, they capture the creature and take him to New York for personal gain. But it's only a matter of time before Kong breaks free of his shackles.

17. Zathura (2005)

  • Cast: Josh Hutcherson, Jonah Bobo, Dax Shepard, Kristen Stewart
  • Run Time: 101 minutes
  • Rating: PG

Two brothers, Danny and Walter, stumble upon a mysterious old board game in their home. Suddenly, a meteor shower occurs, and their house is sent to outer space. In order to safely return home, the brothers and their big sister, Lisa, must figure out how to win the game.

18. The Lost City of Z (2016)

  • Cast: Charlie Hunnam, Robert Pattinson, Sienna Miller, Tom Holland
  • Run Time: 141 minutes
  • Rating: PG-13

See the fascinating true story of Percy Fawcett, a British explorer who vanishes in the 1920s while searching for a mysterious ancient city in the Amazon. Hunnam delivers an unforgettable performance as Percy.

19. Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom (1984)

  • Cast: Harrison Ford, Kate Capshaw, Ke Huy Quan, Amrish Puri
  • Run Time: 118 minutes
  • Rating: PG

In this prequel to Raiders of the Lost Ark, Indiana Jones arrives in British India, where he's asked to recover a magical stone and rescue children from a secret cult. If you love a good action sequence, you'll appreciate the battle at Club Obi-Wan and Indy's grand rescue of the children.

20. Dora and the Lost City of Gold (2019) 

  • Cast: Isabela Moner, Eugenio Derbez, Michael Peña, Eva Longoria
  • Run Time: PG
  • Rating: PG

Set after the events of the animated series, the movie follows teenage Dora as she navigates high school and embarks on a mission to save her parents after they go missing. Regardless of whether you grew up on Dora the Explorer or not, this fun adventure comedy will bring out your inner child.

21. Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle (2017)

  • Cast: Dwayne Johnson, Jack Black, Kevin Hart, Karen Gillan, Nick Jonas
  • Run Time: 119 minutes
  • Rating: PG-13

When four teens find a magical video game, they're transported to an alternate universe and quickly learn that they must survive the game's jungle in order to escape. Not surprisingly, the film was a box-office hit, thanks to the charming, star-studded cast and laugh-out-loud humor.

23. Avatar (2009)

  • Cast: Sam Worthington, Zoe Saldana, Stephen Lang, Michelle Rodriguez
  • Run Time: 162 minutes
  • Rating: PG-13

Jake, a disabled Marine, is sent out on a unique mission in the world of Pandora. But when he arrives and learns the purpose of his mission, Jake is torn between staying loyal to his team and protecting the place that has become his home.

24. Life of Pi (2012)

  • Cast: Suraj Sharma, Irrfan Khan, Tabu, Rafe Spall, Gérard Depardieu
  • Run Time: 127 minutes
  • Rating: PG

The movie centers on a 16-year-old named Piscine (aka Pi), who survives a devastating shipwreck. He gets stranded on a lifeboat for 227 days, but fortunately, he's not alone. While out at sea, he develops an unexpected bond with the only other survivor: a Bengal tiger.

25. A Wrinkle in Time (2018)

  • Cast: Oprah Winfrey, Reese Witherspoon, Mindy Kaling, Levi Miller, Storm Reid
  • Run Time: 110 minutes
  • Rating: PG

Want to travel between planets and stars? Try A Wrinkle in Time. Reid stars as 13-year-old Meg Murry, who goes on a magical mission to find her missing father with the help of three wise astral travelers.

26. Avengers: Infinity War (2018)

  • Cast: Robert Downey Jr., Chris Hemsworth, Mark Ruffalo, Chris Evans, Scarlett Johansson
  • Run Time: 149 minutes
  • Rating: PG-13

The stakes are sky-high as the Avengers and the Guardians of the Galaxy team up against Thanos, who plans to collect six powerful Infinity Stones and kill half of the world's population. There's drama, action, stellar special effects and amazing performances all around.

27. The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (2003)

  • Cast: Elijah Wood, Ian McKellen, Liv Tyler, Viggo Mortensen, Sean Astin, Cate Blanchett
  • Run Time: 201 minutes
  • Rating: PG-13

TBH, nothing beats getting immersed in the world of Middle Earth. The Return of the King is a satisfying conclusion to the epic trilogy, where Frodo, Gollum and Sam set out to destroy the One Ring and Aragorn faces off against Sauron in the ultimate battle between good and evil.

28. Cast Away (2000)

  • Cast: Tom Hanks, Helen Hunt, Nick Searcy
  • Run Time: 144 minutes
  • Rating: PG-13

If survival dramas are more up your alley, you need to see Cast Away. Hanks plays a FedEx systems analyst who gets stranded on a remote island after his plane crashes. After realizing his chances of getting rescued are slim, he desperately tries to survive with the limited resources he has.

29. The Great Escape (1963)

  • Cast: Steve McQueen, James Garner, Richard Attenborough
  • Run Time: 172 minutes
  • Rating: PG-13

Set in Nazi Germany during World War II, a group of determined war prisoners concoct an escape plan by digging a tunnel. If you're into timeless war films with clever, witty dialogue, do yourself a favor and add this to your queue.

30. Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl (2003)

  • Cast: Johnny Depp, Geoffrey Rush, Orlando Bloom, Keira Knightley
  • Run Time: 143 minutes
  • Rating: PG-13

When the governor's daughter, Elizabeth Swann, gets kidnapped by Captain Barbossa, her good friend Will Turner joins forces with Captain Jack Sparrow to rescue her and recover Jack's ship.

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Associate Editor, News and Entertainment

Nakeisha has been interviewing celebrities and covering all things entertainment for over 8 years, but she has also written on a wide range of topics, like career...