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Unleash Your Inner Explorer: Films That Capture the Spirit of Adventure

By Steven Hartman · May 6, 2024

Indiana Jones (Harrison Ford) stealing a golden statue from a temple in 'Raiders of the Lost Ark'

A movie is an adventure. While not all are classified as such, when you decide to watch a movie, you’re traveling into a world where you’re apt to discover something new, unusual, exciting, and engaging. An adventure film puts characters into these worlds and allows the audience to live vicariously as they roam through exotic worlds, science fiction realms, weekend getaways, or just a trip downtown that goes awry.

If you’re ready to write your next adventure film, consider reading the scripts of these movies to see how writers crafted tall tales and intriguing characters.

Scripts from this Article

Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981)

Screenplay by: George Lucas, Philip Kaufman, and Lawrence Kasdan

One of the most famous characters in cinema is Indiana Jones. In the first of five films, Raiders of the Lost Ark defined the action-adventure genre by taking a good-looking archaeologist and sending him off on an adventure to find the Ark of the Covenant.

Tasked with finding it before the Nazis can open it and use its powers for evil, Jones embarks on an adventure that sends him all over the world, battling vicious villains that put him in perilous situations. Raiders of the Lost Ark set the tone for similar heroic characters seeking something of incredible value, such as Romancing the Stone (1984), The Lost City (2022), and Uncharted (2022).

Read More: How to Succeed the George Lucas Way

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Romancing the Stone (1984)

Screenplay by: Diane Thomas

Joan lives her adventures by writing wild romantic novels set in exotic locations. But when her sister is kidnapped, Joan heads to Columbia to pay the ransom but soon finds that she’s on a real-life treasure-hunting adventure alongside the sarcastic, charming, and chauvinistic Jack. As Joan sheds her New York City life and tries to make it in the jungles to save her sister, she can’t help but fall in love—it’s a tale not unlike the concept of the novels Joan writes.

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The Goonies (1985)

Screenplay by: Chris Columbus

The Goonies came out at the perfect time when kids still roamed freely, got into some trouble, and their parents were none-the-wiser. It was also at the beginning of the video rental extravaganza, which made it so kids could watch and rewatch the Goonies set out to find One-Eyed Willy’s treasure while at sleepovers and birthday parties.

Based on a story by Steven Spielberg and written by Chris Columbus, this film brings together an ensemble cast of misfit kids, a few sinister villains, treasure maps, and pirates to create the ideal 1980s adventure flick.

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Ferris Bueller’s Day Off (1986)

Screenplay by: John Hughes

John Hughes was the master of writing the teenage mindset, and Ferris Bueller’s Day Off was no exception. On the verge of graduating high school, Ferris Bueller drags his best friend and girlfriend on an adventure into Chicago hitting up a Cubs game, the art museum, parade, and more. Meanwhile, the grumpy principal tries to track him down to catch him in the act of ditching school. Yet, Ferris seems to get away with everything to the partial delight of his friends and the chagrin of his sister. 

It is fun tagging along with the trio, enjoying a day of nonstop adventure, and doing something we all wish we could have done while in high school.

Read More: 10 Movies That Famously Use the 4th Wall Break

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Adventures in Babysitting (1987)

Screenplay by: Chris Columbus

After her boyfriend cancels a romantic date, a teenager ends up babysitting a young girl, her teenage brother, who is probably too old for a babysitter, and his friend. When her friend calls her in a panic, the babysitter and the kids she’s looking after head into the nitty gritty streets of downtown Chicago, where they have car trouble, end up in a stolen vehicle, become the target of mob bosses, end up in the middle of a gang fight and are forced to sing the blues. 

It’s a wild 1980s adventure that seems easy enough to manage with a cell phone, only that didn’t exist at the time. It does have the Chris Columbus heart, adventure, and fun he’s known for. And it has very solid advice: “Don’t f*** with the babysitter.”

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Apollo 13 (1995)

Screenplay by: Jim Lovell, Jeffrey Kluger, William Broyles Jr., and Al Reinert

Apollo 13 is the true story about the doomed space shuttle mission to the moon. After the success of the Apollo 11 mission, there wasn’t much interest in watching another shuttle take off and land on the moon. That is until the mission goes awry, and the possibility of the astronauts not coming home becomes a reality. 

Based on a real mission in 1970, this space adventure follows three astronauts whose trip to the moon is ruined when their oxygen tanks fail. With the entire world watching and in a literal race against time, NASA must find a way to return the astronauts safely to Earth.

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

Screenplay by: Ted Eliott, Terry Rossio, Stuart Beattie, and Jay Wolpert

Based on a Disney theme park ride, Pirates of the Caribbean takes the adventure to the high seas with ghost pirates, a kidnapped woman, and an eccentric swashbuckler. Cursed to neither being alive nor dead, the Black Pearl roams the Caribbean doing what pirates do best. 

When the Godfather of Pirates, Barbarossa, kidnaps a governor’s daughter, it’s up to a young man and the oddball pirate Jack Sparrow to save her. There is a lot of fun adventure with plenty of nods to the theme park ride to make it popular enough for several sequels.

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National Treasure (2004)

Screenplay by: Ted Elliott and E. Max Frye

A familiar pattern is emerging—a treasure hunt is a great way to go on an adventure. From Raiders of the Lost Ark to Pirates of the Caribbean, sending a group of people to find the proverbial X that marks the spot is a catalyst for a fun and engaging story. 

National Treasure follows a treasure hunter (well, more of a treasure protector, according to lead character Benjamin Gates) as he and his team search for the clues left by America’s Founding Fathers in hopes of finding a massive treasure trove. Using historical hints like a secret message on the back of the Declaration of Independence, removable bricks at Independence Hall and secret passageways in Manhattan, Gates and team must find the treasure before a team of mercenaries claim it first.

Read More: The Scripts That Made Nicolas Cage All the Rage

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The Hangover (2009)

Screenplay by: Jon Lucas and Scott Moore

Four guys head out to Las Vegas for a bachelor party, but after a wild night of partying that they apparently can’t remember, they wake up sans groom and lots of clues. The three guys then spend the weekend following the clues to find the fourth bro on their trip and make he makes it down the aisle in time. 

This adventure-comedy was a smash hit that inspired two sequels and launched Bradley Cooper’s and Ken Jeong’s careers. The whacky scenarios include a Vegas marriage, a tiger, Mike Tyson, and other shenanigans. Even if you’re planning a serious mystery, The Hangover offers a lot of ways to keep the audience guessing and the plot moving forward.

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Inception (2010)

Screenplay by: Christopher Nolan

Somewhere between The Dark Knight (2008) and The Dark Knight Rises (2012), Christopher Nolan put together an adventure that takes place inside a series of dreams. Imagine if you could go inside someone else’s subconscious and plant an idea in their head or steal their most sensitive secrets. 

Inception follows a master thief and his team hired to enter the dreams of a CEO to lay the groundwork to split up his company. The uniquely crafted adventure takes them everywhere, from a transforming city to a spinning hotel hallway to the snowy mountain lair, all inside their target’s mind.

Read More: How to Succeed the Christopher Nolan Way

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Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle (2017)

Screenplay by: Chris McKenna, Erik Sommers, Chris Van Allsburg, Jake Kasdan, Scott Rosenberg, and Jeff Pinkner

A remake of the beloved 1995 filmJumanji: Welcome to the Jungle centers on a group of kids sucked into a video game and forced to find their way back home before they run out of lives in the game—the original was a board game that came to life. 

Casting was a huge draw to this adventure as actors like Dwayne Johnson, Kevin Hart, Jack Black, and Karen Gillan play confused teenagers in different high school cliques in a world where they must work as a team. This adventure film shows how to write with no earthly boundaries as anything can happen inside a video game.

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Girls Trip (2017)

Screenplay by: Kenya Barris and Tracy Oliver

When four friends embark on an adventure to New Orleans, the personal and professional issues of their lives come, too. Best friends since their high school days, these 30-somethings who have garnered success, or lack thereof, and have started losing track of each other’s lives, decide to rekindle the fun of their former years. But as their personalities clash and comedy ensues, these four friends must learn to lean on each other if they’re going to navigate the girls’ trip and leave NOLA better women than when they arrived.

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Thinking about entering a contest with your adventure script? Read the ones in this blog and discover how some of the masters of storytelling wove together their engaging tales of adventure.

Read More: Beyond the Spectacle: Action Films That Break the Mold

Scripts from this Article