‘The Mummy’, ‘Tintin’ and 10 other adventure films to watch during quarantine

A stil from ‘The Adventures of Tintin’ (2011)  

Are you going stir crazy in isolation? The Germans naturally have a word for it — fernweh which translates to such a strong desire for travel that it hurts! Before you hand out your phone number on social media like Rita Wilson, you could maybe check out these fun, swashbuckling movies, peppered with super-simplified history, anthropology, myths, mysteries, and a treasure. How does Indy crack a code that has not been solved for millennia? Because there is a B in both and also because he is Harrison Ford who you remember did the Kessel run in under 12 parsecs. Here is a list of adventure movies from the ‘80s to the noughties that would take you on a trip upon a magic swirling ship…

Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981)

‘The Mummy’, ‘Tintin’ and 10 other adventure films to watch during quarantine

The adventures of archaeologist Indiana Jones, which has him haring it from Peru to Nepal and Cairo with stops at unnamed islands, the Well of Souls and occasionally a classroom, is breathlessly thrilling. The bouncing boulder still fills you with shock and awe, John Williams’ score is rousing, the Nazis are suitably wicked and the effects gobsmacking. Harrison Ford complete with bull whip and Fedora as Indy propels the movie smoothly, riding over the preposterous bits.

Steven Spielberg followed up Raiders of the Lost Ark with Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom (1984) where Sri Lanka doubled for India and Amrish Puri did much scenery chewing as the evil Mola Ram. It was difficult to digest, chilled monkey brains and all. Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (1989) brought the Nazis back, the Holy Grail and Sean Connery as Indy’s dad. The squabbles between father and son were fun and the rose-red rocks of Petra felt otherworldly. Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull (2008) moved the action to the ‘50s. Cate Blanchett was lovely as the evil Russian agent, Indy finds family and there are rumours of Indiana Jones 5.

Fun fact: Writer George Lucas’s Alaskan malamute was called Indiana and was the inspiration for Chewbacca.

Romancing the Stone (1984)

‘The Mummy’, ‘Tintin’ and 10 other adventure films to watch during quarantine

Romancing the Stone directed by Robert Zemeckis and the sequel, The Jewel of the Nile (1985) directed by Lewis Teague stars Kathleen Turner as romance novelist Joan Wilder, Michael Douglas as the exotic birds smuggler Jack T. Colton (politically incorrect, I know) while Danny DeVito is the blackguard, Ralph. There is a treasure map, a quest for a fabled gem, travels to Cartagena, a greedy crocodile and assorted villains — in short all the essential ingredients for a rip-roaring ride at the movies.

King Solomon’s Mines (1985)

‘The Mummy’, ‘Tintin’ and 10 other adventure films to watch during quarantine

There have been many adaptations of Henry Rider Haggard’s 1885 novel, King Solomon's Mines but this one used to air on telly quite often. Richard Chamberlain who took our breath away as conflicted priest Ralph de Bricassart in the mini-series, The Thorn Birds (1983) stars as swashbuckling Allan Quatermain. The film directed by J Lee Thompson also stars Sharon Stone as Jesse who hires Quatermain to find her father. There are the jewel mines, evil witches, the Queen of Sheba, a treasure, cannibals and avaricious Germans. Stone and Chamberlain reprise their roles in the sequel Allan Quatermain and the Lost City of Gold (1986).

Congo (1995)

‘The Mummy’, ‘Tintin’ and 10 other adventure films to watch during quarantine

Killer gorillas, the lost city of Zinj, a rare blue diamond, the mandatory white hunter, hungry hippos, savage militia and an exploding volcano — every stereotype has been thrown into this movie based on a book by Michael Crichton. Directed by Frank Marshall, the film stars Laura Linney as Karen Ross, a former CIA operative, who leads an expedition into the Congo in search of her fiancé who goes missing after sending a cryptic message. Dylan Walsh plays Peter Elliott, a primatologist whose gorilla, Amy, communicates by converting sign language into human speech. Peter is part of the expedition as he wants to return Amy home to the Congo.

The Phantom (1996)

‘The Mummy’, ‘Tintin’ and 10 other adventure films to watch during quarantine

Though Simon Wincer’s Phantom did not get the love it deserved on release, it went on to become a cult movie on the VHS and DVD circuit. Billy Zane (yes the oily Cal from Titanic) plays the noble Ghost Who Walks in this film that brings to life all that we read of Lee Falk’s superhero in Indrajal Comics. There is the Jungle Patrol, the oath taken on the beach (for those who came in late) the skull cave behind a curtain of water and Diana Palmer, Phantom’s girlfriend. The plot involves skulls with secret powers, pirates and assorted evils including Catherine Zeta-Jones as a sky pirate!

The Mummy (1999)

‘The Mummy’, ‘Tintin’ and 10 other adventure films to watch during quarantine

Brendan Fraser slays it as soldier-adventurer Rick O'Connell, while Rachel Weisz as Evie, the librarian who wants to show Egyptologists she is as good as them is a hoot. Arnold Vosloo is hot as the regenerating mummy Imhotep and John Hannah is Evie’s brother Jonathan who initiates the search for Hamunaptra. Directed by Stephen Sommers, The Mummy had everything from humour (remember no harm ever came out of opening a book?) to thrills and top-of-the-line special effects. The law of diminishing returns applied to the sequels, The Mummy Returns (2001) and The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor (2008). Let us not talk of the reboot in 2017 where Tom Cruise had double-pupil eyes to show his evil side.

Lara Croft: Tomb Raider (2001)

‘The Mummy’, ‘Tintin’ and 10 other adventure films to watch during quarantine

Based on the videogame series, Lara Croft: Tomb Raider, directed by Simon West, was more in the news for the digital work required to erase the tattoos on Angelina Jolie, who played the titular character. Jolie gamely plunged into her role of aristocratic adventurer strange British accent and all. The action moved from Venice to Cambodia (Angkor Wat got a lot of publicity) and Siberia. The plot involves the Illuminati, ancient artefacts, bending space and time and William Blake’s poetry. A pre-James Bond Daniel Craig pouts prettily as Alex West, Lara’s former lover and rival adventurer. Lara Croft: Tomb Raider – The Cradle of Life (2003) directed by Jan de Bont involved Pandora’s Box with Gerard Butler providing arm candy. The 2018 reboot leeched all the fun from the series.

National Treasure (2004)

‘The Mummy’, ‘Tintin’ and 10 other adventure films to watch during quarantine

When Nicolas Cage is not winning Oscars or riding a bike with his skull on fire, he is Benjamin Franklin Gates, a historian and cryptologist (adventurers are multitaskers by default) seeking lost treasure with the American Declaration of Independence for a map. Helping him in his quest is an archivist Abigail Chase (Diane Kruger) and Riley Poole (Justin Bartha), the mandatory wisecracking computer whiz. Sean Bean is the antagonist one more time while Jon Voight as Ben’s dad makes a career of parenting treasure hunters—he played Lara Croft’s father as well. The sequel, National Treasure: Book of Secrets, (2007) saw Ed Harris as the antagonist and Helen Mirren as Ben’s mum join the party.

Sahara (2005)

‘The Mummy’, ‘Tintin’ and 10 other adventure films to watch during quarantine

Though in Clive Cussler’s books Dirk Pitt has blue-green eyes, which his film avatar Matthew McConaughey does not have, Sahara directed by Breck Eisner closely follows the book it is based on including a comely doctor as Eva Rojas (Penélope Cruz) and an evil French businessman Yves Massarde (Lambert Wilson). Despite non-stop action, charming leads, environmental disaster, secret sickness and a stranded ironclad from the American Revolution filled with gold, Sahara was an expensive flop.

The Da Vinci Code (2006)

‘The Mummy’, ‘Tintin’ and 10 other adventure films to watch during quarantine

While this is not an adventure movie in the strictest sense of the word, there is a quest, the Holy Grail, conspiracies, secret societies and a professor who in the Dan Brown book, the movie is based on, is said to resemble Harrison Ford. Directed by Ron Howard, the film starred Tom Hanks and weird hair as Harvard symbologist Robert Langdon. Audrey Tautou played Sophie, whose grandfather’s murder kicks off the hunt for the Grail amongst other things. Sir Ian McKellen was great fun as Grail historian Sir Leigh Teabing while Paul Bettany played the troubled assassin, Silas. The Da Vinci Code was followed by Angels and Demons (2009) with all the lovely Bernini art and equally lovely Ewan McGregor as the Camerlengo. Inferno (2016) has an unstable millionaire, a deadly virus (uh oh) and Irrfan Khan as fixer Harry Sims with the best lines.

Journey to the Centre of the Earth (2008)

‘The Mummy’, ‘Tintin’ and 10 other adventure films to watch during quarantine

Brendan Fraser plays a volcanologist Trevor Anderson in this adaptation of the Jules Verne classic. There is the world in the centre of the earth with gems, dinosaurs and geysers — all jolly and in 3D. Josh Hutcherson stars as Trevor’s nephew, Sean. Shot in Iceland, which Vernians know is an important portal to go to the centre of the earth, Journey to the Centre of the Earth was directed by Eric Brevig. The sequel, Journey 2: The Mysterious Island (2012) directed by Brad Peyton was more of the same. The little elephant was delightful. Dwayne Johnson as Sean’s stepfather and Michael Caine as Sean’s flamboyant grandfather moved things along. There was the lost city of Atlantis, Captain Nemo’s diary (in Hindi) gigantic honeybees and an exploding volcano to pep things up.

The Adventures of Tintin (2011)

‘The Mummy’, ‘Tintin’ and 10 other adventure films to watch during quarantine

Even though Steven Spielberg only heard of Hergé’s intrepid boy reporter when Raiders of the Lost Ark was compared to Tintin comics, he fell in love with the Belgian comicbook’s artwork. The Adventures of Tintin, directed by Spielberg is based on three volumes of the series — The Crab with Golden Claws, The Secret of the Unicorn and Red Rackham’s treasure. Even though it was disconcerting to see Captain Haddock’s (Andy Serkis) eyes and the absence of Cuthbert Calculus was disappointing, the 3D movie was faithful to the look and feel of Hergé’s work. Jamie Bell played Tintin while Daniel Craig played the dastardly pirate, Red Rackham.

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Printable version | Jul 28, 2021 10:20:24 AM |

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