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Good Adventure Movies (2010-15): Diamonds In The Rough

Joseph2Adventure films come in all shapes and sizes. From the half-decade of 2010-2015, you can bet that there were lots of great films coming out in that genre, but as usual, some of those movies were forgotten even before they were released.

Maybe the movie title wasn’t catchy enough, maybe the advertising for the film missed its mark, maybe the lead actor or actress was generally considered box office poison at the time. In any case, those forgotten films are the reason we do these lists, and I’m here to shine the spotlight on some of those films, so that they can be appreciated properly and not be relegated to the shadows of movie obscurity. ~ Joseph Carro

Sifting Through Treasures

The half-decade starting in 2010 and ending in 2015 was a very strange animal indeed. Normally, the United States and the UK produce most commercial adventure fare, and that was certainly true for the early part of the half-decade. However, the tail end saw a booming presence by Chinese cinema and, as a result, China released most of the adventure films for this period.

The half-decade of 2010-2015 was also strange in the sense that many of the best adventure films came out in the middle of the half-decade, where in most other cases, it is generally spread out more evenly. It doesn’t hold too much significance other than the fact that it shows how the hunger for different genres fluctuates in the movie industry. (For example, during this half-decade we saw a resurgence of Greek/Roman mythology films such as ‘Centurion’, ‘Clash Of The Titans’, ‘The Eagle’ and others.)

I have watched and re-watched these films to ensure that I considered everything in the correct light, and I do believe I have come up with a must-see list that you won’t regret with these film recommendations.


Fantastic Adventure Movie Recommendations

‘Conan The Barbarian’ (Marcus Nispel, 2011)

A mighty Cimmerian warrior, Conan (Jason Momoa), is on a quest for vengeance after witnessing an evil wizard attack his village and mercilessly murder his father. As Conan grows and becomes even mightier with age, his personal quest for vengeance is soon tempered by his knowledge of the impending threat to Hyboria and the realization that he alone may be able to stop the invasion of evil, supernatural forces.

As far as reboots go, that’s all we really see these days, isn’t it? Reboot, reboot, reboot.

Now, I’m a big fan of the original ‘Conan’ films, so I wasn’t really sure what to expect from this film when I first heard about it. After seeing it, while I don’t think this newer incarnation will ever replace the originals for me, it was ultimately a welcome addition to the film mythology of one of my favorite literary characters.

The story and mood was admittedly much more faithful to the original Robert E. Howard tales, but I’m not sure Momoa was as charismatic in the role of Conan of Cimmeria as Arnold Schwarzenneger was in the original film, so fans of the previous entries may feel a little shell-shocked.

But if you look at it as completely separate from the original films (which it is), then you’ll be able to appreciate the 2011 ‘Conan The Barbarian’ for what it is – a fun fantasy-adventure romp. There are swords, spells, and beautiful women (not to mention a shirtless Jason Momoa for all you ‘Game Of Thrones’ fans), so you can’t really go wrong.

‘Rango’ (Gore Verbinski, 2011)

Rango (Johnny Depp) is just your everyday, normal pet chameleon. However, when he finds himself accidentally arriving in the lawless town of Dirt after a car accident, he discovers Dirt needs a new sheriff. Letting his more selfish nature take over, Rango takes on his new title and vows to find the town of Dirt some much-needed water… and, naturally, he should acquire some of the water as a reward, right?

Normally, Pixar has the market cornered on animated feature films, so it’s interesting to note that ‘Rango’ was not made by Pixar, but by George Lucas’ company – Industrial Light and Magic. As the very first animated feature film made by ILM, ‘Rango’ was actually really well done and, in my opinion, holds its own against many Pixar films.

‘Rango’ may be animated, but with some wry humor, some “easter eggs” thrown in like the nod to ‘Fear And Loathing In Las Vegas’, and the very tight animation and voice acting, ‘Rango’ is a nice adventure flick the whole family can enjoy, and is a nice animated homage to the so-called “Spaghetti-Westerns” of yesteryear.

Johnny Depp manages not to overact as Rango in the film (which is strange, because in my eyes his acting has turned into cartoon-like proportions for many of his recent movies), while the ever-talented Isla Fisher takes on the role of the plucky iguana, Beans. While I don’t normally place animated films among my favorites, ‘Rango’ is very fun, and is one of those rare forgotten gems of the 2010s.

‘Sanctum’ (Alister Grierson, 2011)

When an underwater cave-diving team travels to the South Pacific to explore the mysterious and largely unexplored Esa-ala caves, they bite off more than they can chew. When a tropical storm forces them into the depths of the caverns, the dive team must contend with deadly water and their surroundings as they try to make their way back to the sea.

In many ways, ‘Sanctum’ was almost marketed more as a horror film/natural disaster type of movie. From the movie posters to the trailers, that’s really what it seemed like.

However, ‘Sanctum’ is truly an adventure film, and it’s one worth watching. If you’re like me, and small spaces (especially small spaces underwater) freak you out, that will only add to the drama as you follow the underwater explorers on their journey.

Though some of the acting is a little wooden, the cinematography is amazing and is not to be missed (so make sure to watch it on a large screen television for maximum effect), and the constant dangers and thrilling escapes will keep you in your seat for the duration.

‘Big Miracle’ (Ken Kwapis, 2012)

When Adam (John Krasinski), a small-town news reporter from Alaska, becomes involved in a rescue mission for three gray whales who are trapped in quickly-forming arctic ice, he enlists the help of his ex-girlfriend, Rachel (Drew Barrymore) who is an activist and Greenpeace member, to help him. Together, and with the help of the Russian government and a Native Alaskan boy, they may just be able to save the whales from certain doom.

This film generally has pretty good ratings from most people I know, but the only problem is that the number of people I know who have seen this film is only a handful. Sure, it’s a family adventure drama, but it’s one of those feel-good adventure movies which we are severely lacking these days. And it’s also based on a true story which happened during the 1980s.

Drew Barrymore and John Krasinski (remember Jim from the U.S. version of ‘The Office’?) really pull this movie together with their chemistry, and the movie (and by proxy, the director) do a great job of making you feel invested in the whale family we are introduced to in the story. Yeah, it’s not a big budget action flick, but it’ll make you feel all warm and fuzzy inside. It’s not just a story about whales, but of how we can come together as human beings when we need to accomplish great things.

In today’s world, that’s definitely something we need more of.

‘Jack The Giant Slayer’ (Bryan Singer, 2013)

When Jack (Nicholas Hoult) opens a gateway between the world of the humans and the world of the giants, an ancient war is rekindled. Soon, Jack turns from farmhand to soldier and must fight to protect his people and those he loves as the giants strive to reclaim land which once belonged to them.

‘Jack The Giant Slayer’ is one of those rare films which seemed to have a lot of backing, a lot of marketing behind it, yet was washed away in a sea of other films like ‘Star Trek Into Darkness’, ‘Thor: The Dark World’ and ‘The Hobbit: The Desolation Of Smaug’. Against those box-office giants, little ol’ Jack didn’t really stand much of a chance now, did he?

This film was fun, entertaining, and the acting was very believable, especially since the movie was laden with so much CGI and special effects (which, I think, is part of the reason people seemed initially disconnected from it, unfortunately). What you’ll find in ‘Jack The Giant Slayer’ is a very enjoyable, competent action fantasy-adventure, and one that you’ll enjoy watching multiple times. Especially if you look past the flashy, oft-unnecessary CGI.


Running The Gauntlet

Adventure films can be anything, and can slip into any other sub-genre. Sometimes they’re scary, sometimes dramatic, sometimes for children.

However, I think we all can agree that what pushes movies into the adventure territory is a sense of spirit, of exploration, determination. These movies I’ve recommended to you embody all of those traits, in different ways, and I hope that if you haven’t seen these, you’ll give them a chance and discover why I love them so much.

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