Into The Wild (2007)
Is Into The Wild a biopic of a millennial whingebag who needs to move off whole milk and get a job? Or is it a scathing critique of everything wrong with modern society on par with the best of Jack London? It depends who you ask. Anyone over 25 who has the travel bug out of their system might respond that Christopher McCandless (Emile Hirsch) shunned loving parents, was annoyingly self-righteous and naively underprepared for his unforgiving destination – the wilderness of Alaska. Anyone under 25 might defend ‘Alexander Supertramp’ as a heroic loner, living by his own set of rules and giving the grown ups he meets on his travels a much needed fresh perspective. Whichever camp you fall in, McCandless’s tale of self-imposed poverty and its individual vs society theme has become a classic ‘get out there and live life’ film. Oh, and it’s got a genius soundtrack written and performed by Eddie Vedder.
Finding Traction (2014)
This documentary charts Nikki Kimball as she sets herself the challenge of becoming the world’s fastest person to complete The Long Trail, a 273-mile (that’s ten marathons) trail run across the jagged hills of Vermont. For Nikki, this is more than just satisfying her neurotic competitiveness or overcoming a seemingly impossible challenge. It’s about inspiring the next generation of female ultra-runners. Finding Traction take viewers through Nikki’s journey of preparation, triumph, anguish and self-discovery. It’s a nail-bitingly good documentary.
The Way Back (2010)
Something a bit different to the other adventure movies on this list. The Way Back is an epic survival story of a band of jailed ‘enemies of the Soviet state’ who, after escaping the clutches of their Serbian Gulag, embark on a 4,500-mile journey across treacherous terrain in the direction of safety. So how did they survive? Simple. By walking, and walking and walking. Despite this as a cinematic premise, The Way Back is high-tempo, and it’s got an A-list cast. The real star of the film, however, and what gets it onto our list of the best adventure movies, is the panorama of landscapes that will inspire you into booking your own next hiking trip (just maybe a shorter one).
“It’s defeated so many good climbers and maybe will defeat everybody for all time,” said Jon Krakauer of Mount Meru, a shark fin-like peak in the Himalayas. This documentary shows a group of climbers, including Jimmy Chin and Conrad Anker as they attempt to become the first people to reach the top. The cinematography really is next-level, and there’s a great deal of poignancy along the way as each climber in the team reflects on some of the challenges they’ve faced in their lives leading up to their ascent – ranging from the loss of friends, surviving avalanches and a battle to learn to walk again.