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Help Support Features Articles The Adventure Movie

The Adventure Movie

by Ronald Christian


What exactly makes an Adventure Epic? Being a heavy Indiana Jones Fan to me there is a clear and very detailed opinion as to what makes a good Adventure Movie, down to specific ingredients and here I will tell you what they are.

First let's take the word Adventure itself. That word has so much meaning to me. It makes me think of Deserts and Jungles, Heroes and Villains. Narrow escapes from trap infested temple ruins, Globetrotting escapades, Chases and Fights and over the top action sequences. Have any of you ever taken a look at the definition of Adventure in the Dictionary? It clearly means a bold uncertain life threataning and risky undertaking.

An Adventure film is big, grand and epic with lots of grand vistas and cinematography. Here I will attempt to break down specific elements that make a good Adventure Movie.

The Story

Raiders' Cairo fight
storyboard sketch.

The story for this type of movie usually involves some ancient relic from some ancient civilization that holds unknown mysterious powers. This is an element seen most often in these types of movies. The villain wants to get his hands on this item for reasons that range anywhere from ruling the world to just plain old fashioned money. The story is more involving than your typical Action Movie. An action movie does not involve any supernatural elements at all and they are usually confined to one familiar setting. They are rather bland by adventure standards. The Story usually involves a Drug lord or Crime boss and has to do with revenge for killing someone's wife or partner. The plots for these movies I find rather bland. The Adventure Movie Usually involves many different exotic settings around the world and lots of supernatural things. The situations are more risky and things seem more dangerous because you're dealing with the supernatural, unknown mysteries. There is sometimes even an element of horror in some adventure films. Things are just a little bit scarier in adventure movies. The situations are just a bit more dangerous and the Villains and a bit more frightening than in your average action film. This is due to the fact that they deal with things unknown and supernatural. Try to imagine a villain trying to get his hands on a relic that can bring back an ancient civilization's army. You would have an army of corpses a walking army of the undead. Skeletons and decomposed bodies some with missing limbs and eyeballs dangling. That's scary. Despite this the adventure film still manages to keep an air of lightheartedness. Most of the time more so than any action film. Most Adventure movies have plenty of comedy and humor, things that would make you laugh out loud. Adventure has a great balance of different elements that make for a complete and very satisfying experience. I know a great adventure film when I see one.

Your Probably asking yourself" Then where do the James Bonds films fall under?" The James Bond Films do not fall under any of these two categories. They have lots of elements from both the straightforward adventure movie and the straightforward action movie. These two merge to form The Spy Espionage Genre and that's that. I could get into it, but I wont. Let us continue.

The Hero

Temple of Doom's bridge
storyboard sketch.

Now the Hero can be a typical straightforward Boy Scout type without any fears or flaws and never makes a mistake, but that makes for a very uninteresting Hero. The Type of Adventure Hero that I like is one who is not always right, they make mistakes and screw up sometimes, and they have flaws and fears and sometimes they even do the wrong thing. That makes them human. At the beginning of the story The Heroes intentions might not always be too good. The hero can also just be ruled by money, but the difference is that they have to make a change sometime in the story; they have to truly become a true Hero. This I what I like to call the "Transformation" Where they risk it all to do good to save the Girl and the World. The heroes that I like be it male or female are usually debonair and roguish not so clean cut and proper all the time and a little gritty and down to earth. They are good at what they do and they say great one-liners. Usually there is a love interest

The Villain

The Villain in an Adventure Film is big and Evil and a little more frightening than you typical bad guy and they usually have a reason to do the things they do. They are for the most part like every other type of Villain, What makes them different from your typical grade A James Bond Villain is that they don't want to rule the world with Nuclear Weapons, They want to rule the world with ancient supernatural power. With the Sword Excalibur or The Ark of the Covenant or the army of Anubis. There are also other types of Villains, that don't need any reason to be bad, they just are like Pirates or Mercenaries, but usually these types are supporting villains. The Main Villain has a motive to be evil. The Villain sometimes leads some type of cult devoted to finding this relic and these people become his army and bodyguards. And a lot of times they are rich and are able to support their vast Empire.

The Action/Adventure Sequence

Raiders' Truck chase
storyboard sketch.

The most exiting part of the Adventure Films are the Action/Adventure Sequences. Always exciting and full of danger. The Action sequence in an Adventure film differs greatly from one in an action film. There are narrow escapes from trap infested temple ruins. Instead of just a normal car chase you have a Chase involving Mine cars inside caverns or jeeps through the jungles of south America or a Nazi Truck with armed escort in the desert and a Hero who must climb on and take control of it against all odds or a plane being chased by a wall of sand or a double Decker bus chased by Mummies through the streets of London. This is Adventure. At it's highest .The fights are big and grand, against Mummies or Scorpion monsters or Evil cult leaders or Nazi Mechanics. The settings usually involve ancient ruins or things like a rope bridge over a river infested by Alligators of filled with Lava. There are gunfights and plenty of explosions and the climactic battles have to be even bigger and utterly amazing. That is what makes an Adventure sequence.

The Music

Now I'm going to talk about a specific element that might not be important to you all in an Adventure film, but it is to me. That is the Music. The Music in an Adventure film has to be ... well adventurous. It has to be epic and grand and swashbuckling. The Adventure movie that I like usually has different Musical Themes representing different elements and characters in the movies. The Hero has a theme that is usually very upbeat and swashbuckling and heroic. Sometimes the Heroes Theme is the Main theme of the Movie itself, but not always. There is also the Relic or ancient civilization theme. This is the Theme that represents the Artifact that the story involves; this can also be the Film's main theme. There is also the Villain theme and that's usually dark and evil sounding and if there is a love interest there is a romantic sounding Love Theme. Any other theme is just secondary. The music in an adventure film has to be orchestral and grand. This is where I think Tomb Raider falls short. The Music in The Tomb Raider games and movies are of a Techno New Age type that to me has no room in a straightforward Adventure genre. With Tomb Raider they tried to modernize on the Idea of the Pulp Adventure with a contemporary feel and sound and look. Why fix something if it isn't broken? If they wanted to modernize on the idea of Music in Adventure they could of gotten David Arnold, who is a great Classic adventure score composer, who did Stargaze. He did an excellent job with the two latest James Bond films, where he had elements of Modern techno sound and still manages to mix it with the Classic Orchestral Adventure sound. He blends the two beautifully. There are just those moments in a great Adventure film where the Image on screen blends perfectly with the Music, This is truly harmony. The Moment can be one second long or as long as two hours.

These entire things blend to complete what to me is the perfect Adventure Film. To me Adventure is a specific idea it is a state of mind. In the world of Adventure things are bigger and grander and very magical and not always too realistic, but hey it's about fun. I love adventure films and I will never tire of them.


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