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Underrated Adventure Movies You Need To Watch

Whether it's the beloved "Indiana Jones" series, or more fantastical stories like the box office-crushing "Avatar," it's hard to deny that audiences love a good adventure story. It's not difficult to see why, as it's a genre that truly captures what can only be described as the magic of cinema. Faraway lands, hidden treasures and dashing heroes all combine to create some of the most riveting tales that inspire the imaginations of millions.

Of course, not every film in this thrilling genre is as renowned as our favorites. In fact, more often than not, quality adventure flicks get lost to time, becoming only a distant memory. That said, we went on an adventure of our own to find the best in the genre that deserve to see the light of day once more. So strap on your boots, dust off your maps, and pack your bags, we're headed to where X marks the spot: the most underrated adventure films you need to watch.

The Rocketeer

Adapted from the pages of a comic book bearing the same name, "The Rocketeer" was released long before superhero movies would become in vogue thanks to the likes of Marvel Studios and DC Films. The end result was an endlessly charming period piece filled with romance, wit, and dangerous villains, all layered with classic comic book fun. The story follows Cliff Secord (Billy Campbell), a plucky stunt pilot and thrill-seeker who discovers a highly experimental jetpack stolen from Howard Hughes. After slipping up and revealing himself to be the owner of the device, Cliff becomes swept up in a three-way standoff between the FBI, the Mafia, and Nazi spies.

While nowadays it might be tough to think of this one as being truly underrated, thanks to how fondly most fans look back on it (via Reddit), that wasn't always the case. Critics weren't dazzled with the film's sky high adventure, which translated into disappointing returns at the box office. Despite its shortcomings, however, "The Rocketeer" is rightly remembered by some as an early gem in the superhero genre, and one worthy of being seen by a new generation of audiences.

The Adventures of Tintin

Despite being an iconic, wildly popular French comic strip first published in 1929, few audiences likely remember that "The Adventures of Tintin" spawned a feature film back in 2011. Even more surprisingly, it had a pretty heavy-hitting cast working behind the scenes to bring the characters of "Tintin" to life via motion capture, with the likes of director Steven Spielberg, writer Edgar Wright, producer Peter Jackson, co-writer Steven Moffat, and others all contributing. Sure, it may have been clearly marketed for a younger crowd, but we think this oft-forgotten entry in its creators' respective filmographies deserves another look by audiences of all ages.

An intrepid adventure is set into motion after young Tintin (voiced by Jamie Bell) purchases a model of an old sailing vessel dubbed the Unicorn. The model itself is nothing special, but inside is a hidden map, which just might lead to the wreck of the real thing — as well as the stash of treasure on board. Along the way, Tintin meets longtime companion Captain Haddock (Andy Serkis) for the first time as the two work together to solve the mystery of the Unicorn. A lighthearted adventure that perfectly captures the tone of its source material, "The Adventures of Tintin" is one journey worth embarking on.


Based on the long-running video game series of the same name, "Uncharted" follows the life of regular thief turned treasure seeker Nathan Drake (Tom Holland). With a tragic past involving a long-lost brother that still haunts him, Drake is offered the chance of a lifetime by a mysterious stranger with a deeper connection to him than he realizes. Together, the two embark on a journey to uncover a forgotten fortune and to find the truth about his missing brother.

After becoming a household name thanks to his portrayal of Spider-Man in "Captain America: Civil War" and the Marvel films that followed it, Tom Holland has quickly become one of the most popular celebrities of his generation. One of the first films to star the beloved actor outside the scope of the MCU, "Uncharted" became the fifth highest-grossing movie of all time based on a video game, but failed to escape the ridicule of critics. That said, it really didn't deserve all the hate it got, managing to capture all of the fun and adventure of a genre that audiences see less and less of lately.

The Count of Monte Cristo

Based on a classic novel of the same name, "The Count of Monte Cristo" is a swashbuckling tale taking place in the final days of the Napoleonic Wars. Napoleon himself, now in exile on the island of Elba, recruits the help of passing sailor Edmond Dantès (Jim Caviezel) to transport a seemingly innocuous letter off the island. With Edmond unaware of the letter's contents, fellow sailor Fernand Mondego (Guy Pearce), himself envious of both Edmond's status and fiancé, accuses him of planning Napoleon's escape from exile. Now found guilty of treason, Edmond is sent to prison, where he has no choice but to train in isolation for the day he can finally get his revenge on those who wronged him.

A thrilling seafaring adventure full of romance and betrayal, "The Count of Monte Cristo" has been largely forgotten since its 2002 release. While there's no way to say for sure, perhaps the release of another big-budget swashbuckling series that hit theaters just a year later is to blame for this one not getting the attention it deserves. But if you're looking for an underappreciated title like the "Pirates of the Caribbean" series that ditches the more fantastical elements, "The Count of Monte Cristo" is right for you.


It's the twilight years of the American Wild West, and legendary cowboy Frank Hopkins (Viggo Mortensen in his first lead role after "The Lord of the Rings" trilogy) is now working as a showman and horse rider. Tales of his exploits have managed to reach far and wide, attracting the attention of a powerful Sheikh named Riyadh (Omar Sharif). Wanting to see if the man matches the legends, Riyadh invites Hopkins to compete in the "Ocean of Fire," a grueling long distance horse race across the sands of the Najd desert. Now facing off against some of the stiffest competition on the planet, all of Hopkins' skills will be put to the test, though it's not just the other competitors that stand between the famed rider and victory.

Panned by critics for its apparent inaccuracies in regards to both history and its depiction of the West, we think they might have been a bit too harsh on this one. It may not be everyone's cup of tea, but this throwback to the bygone era of Western epics makes "Hidalgo" an undeniably fun watch, and one that's not hard to enjoy for fans of the genre.

The Last Starfighter

When it comes to genre cinema, perhaps no decade can be considered more memorable than the '80s. A veritable renaissance for fresh sci-fi ideas and unique fantasy offerings, it's hard for most of us to name just one favorite from the era. While some classics like "Aliens" and "E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial" are rightly remembered fondly even today, some worthy titles have since fallen by the wayside of most fans' memories. Among those underappreciated titles is 1984's "The Last Starfighter," which deserves to be discussed whenever fans are talking about beloved films of the decade.

When the high score of a local arcade machine is crushed by local teenager Alex Rogan (Lance Guest), he becomes entangled in a galactic war of conquest. As it turns out, the gaming machine he's spent hours playing on is actually a training simulator built by aliens for an advanced starship, and Alex has become the last hope for their survival. Now at the controls of a real starfighter, he'll soon find out whether his skills are up to the ultimate test. The first sci-fi pick on our list, "The Last Starfighter" proves that a good adventure flick doesn't have to limit itself to the surly bonds of earth.

The Ghost and the Darkness

Inspired by true stories of lions that chose humans as their prey, namely the infamous Tsavo man-hunters, "The Ghost and the Darkness" is unique on our list for its real world connections. In the late 19th century, the construction crew of a railroad through Tsavo, Kenya, are the victims of a number of deadly attacks. The hunting of one lion seems to put an end to the slayings for a while, but the deaths eventually resume, now increasing in both numbers and brutality. Out of options, military engineer and supervisor John Patterson (Val Kilmer) seeks the services of legendary hunter Charles Remington (Michael Douglas) to save him and his workers from certain death.

While positive reviews were few and far between for this one, with famed critic Roger Ebert in particular writing a scathing half-star review, it's not as bad as they would have you believe. Credited with winning the now-defunct Academy Award for Best Sound Editing, as well as truly capturing the sense of dread that the men are experiencing, "The Ghost and the Darkness" is an immersive story of man vs. nature that's worth your time.


Against the backdrop of a rising plague and national conflict in the country of Mali, treasure-seeker Dirk Pitt (Matthew McConaughey) is on the hunt for a long lost Civil War ship rumored to be filled to the brim with Confederate gold. Along the way, Dirk and his sidekicks wind up blowing the lid off of a much deeper conspiracy and struggling to survive, while still hunting for the fabled treasure.

Those fans who can recall the release of this 2005 adventure epic might remember hearing about its nightmarish and even controversial production process (via the Los Angeles Times). Going massively over budget and winding up on track to become one of the greatest box office flops of the 21st century is bad enough. When a chunk of that overspending is revealed to have been used to line the pockets of unsavory characters through bribery, though, you're really in trouble. While it's really only remembered nowadays for its obscene money mismanagement, underneath all the production woes of "Sahara" awaits a halfway decent adventure flick for the bravest movie buffs to discover.

Atlantis: The Lost Empire

As the name suggests, "Atlantis: The Lost Empire" takes place far from the sun-scorched reaches of the Sahara and deep in the murky waters of the sea. The year is 1914 and the lost city of Atlantis has passed into myth, but among the few who still believe in its existence are Milo Thatch (voiced by Michael J. Fox). Grandson of a famous explorer and self-proclaimed expert on all things Atlantis, Milo jumps at the opportunity provided by an old friend of his grandfather to help spearhead an expedition to the underwater city. What he doesn't know, however, is just how hard it'll be for him to mesh with his fellow explorers, or to find out the true reason why they're so heavily armed.

Released in 2001, not even Michael J. Fox voicing the lead role could save this animated entry from sinking with critics and audiences upon release. Despite the complaints, which were about everything from the characters to the story itself, we think it's a worthy tale of adventure that's elevated by its imaginative setting and unique visuals (which can be at least partially credited to production designer Mike Mignola of "Hellboy" fame).

The Fall

Far from your typical adventure fare, "The Fall" balances its thrilling fantasy sequences with moments far more grounded in reality. A young girl named Alexandria (Catinca Untaru) and a badly injured stuntman named Roy (Lee Pace) find themselves in the care of a hospital in the early 20th century. To help pass the time, Roy regales his fellow patient with a fantastical tale of heroes and villains battling it out over a quest for revenge. The story he spins for Alexandria is full of charm and whimsy, in stark contrast to the particularly bleak setting it's being told in. As the story progresses with every meeting between the two, so too does the pair's trust for one another, with truly dire consequences.

"The Fall" is an unusual entry in that it's a bit of a "love it or hate it" deal, which plenty of critics wound up hating. While some felt its heavily stylized visuals were a detriment and that the pacing made it a bore, others fully embraced the dreamlike qualities that the film goes for. While it might not be a favorite for all audiences, we think every film buff should at least give "The Fall" a chance — if nothing else, there's no denying that it's a truly unique bit of filmmaking.

The Rundown

Whether you know him as Dwayne Johnson or just simply as The Rock, we're willing to bet everyone is familiar with the famous wrestler-turned-actor. Now perhaps best-known for his participation in various action films, we're going all the way back to 2003 to cover one of his earliest film roles as the star of "The Rundown." The action-adventure flick saw Johnson cast as Beck, a bounty hunter with a special knack for his trade. While most of his day-to-day life involves getting various debtors to cough up what they owe his employer, one job in particular manages to defy his expectations, sending him down a rabbit hole of tyranny, romance, and gun-toting action.

While the majority of The Rock's films aren't exactly the most memorable out there, "The Rundown" is one that's been largely lost in the wake of his bigger successes over the years. That said, if you're in the mood for a healthy mix of adventure and comedy that isn't afraid to get goofy, "The Rundown" is worth checking out.


Directed by Jon Favreau of "Iron Man" fame, "Zathura: A Space Adventure" trades the jungle-themed wilds of similar films like "Jumanji" for the vast, dangerous reaches of outer space. After brothers Walter (Josh Hutcherson) and Danny (Jonah Bobo) dust off an old board game in their basement, they soon discover it serves as a link between its fantastical setting and their own mundane world, propelling their home into the cosmos. What they fail to see, however, is that reversing the connection between the two worlds and getting themselves home will be far less simple than they might think.

Harkening back to the feelings of unlikely adventure that films in the '80s and '90s inspired in audiences, "Zathura" has never really been viewed in the same light as titles like "The Goonies" and the aforementioned "Jumanji" (which is underrated in its own right). While it might not have quite the same staying power as either of them, it's nonetheless a fun romp through outer space that's sure to please any aspiring astronauts.

Treasure Planet

After being abandoned by his father at a young age, Jim Hawkins (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) has grown into a young man with a thirst for adventure. After further tragedy strikes his mother's restaurant at the hands of a band of pirates, a clue left by the marauders causes Jim to seek out the elusive treasure planet and finally leave his troubles behind. It'll be far from an easy voyage, though, as Jim is soon joined by an unlikely crew of cosmic sailors, not all of whom are what they seem.

"Treasure Planet" is perhaps one of the more infamous animated titles to be released by Walt Disney Studios, and one that marked the end of their 2D animation era for nearly a decade. Despite being directed by John Musker, known for his work on classics such as "The Little Mermaid" and "Aladdin," "Treasure Planet" proved to be a loss for the company to the tune of over $170 million. A lot of factors came into play to make this regrettable distinction a reality, as everything from an out-of-control budget to stiff competition at the box office worked against "Treasure Planet," with lukewarm reviews only making the situation worse for the doomed release. Underneath the cloud hanging over this one, though, a truly ambitious and entertaining adventure across the vast reaches of space is waiting to be enjoyed.