Friday, November 7, 2014

A Series of Genres: Adventure

“Adventure Time, c'mon grab your friends, we’ll go to very distant lands. With Jake the Dog and Finn the Human, The fun will never end, it's Adventure Time!” That’s right, I just quoted the opening theme song for a very popular cartoon on the Cartoon Network. Why? Well, because the television show is about a boy and his best friend, who happens to be a dog that can stretch, going on adventures. Many of the show’s tropes are inspired from fantasy role-playing games (RPG) like Dungeon & Dragons (D&D). 

In Dungeons & Dragons, the players assume the various roles in a “party” of adventures. Through game play, the players will make decisions as their characters, reacting to the various challenges set forth by the Dungeon Master (DM). The DM is the person who is the most familiar with the game rules; that directs the story and controls the various aspects of the fictional world, like the non-player characters (NPCs) and monsters. Each character is assigned numerical representations of their strength, dexterity, constitution, wisdom, intelligence, and charisma, called ability scores. These values will determine how well as character can achieve skills ranging from climbing a wall to deceiving an enemy. The players will determine the rate of failure and success of each challenge by rolling polyhedral dice. After completing an adventure or campaign the DM will award the characters with experience and sometimes treasure, both of which, will help the character achieve success in a future adventures. 

Any good adventure movie should emulate the themes and motifs that are brought out in a game of Dungeons & Dragons, or even in an episode of Adventure Time. One of the main themes in Dungeons & Dragons is a group of misfits coming together to overcome a great adversary, but at the price of many trials and tribulations. Seeing that theme portrayed on the big screen is exciting. Like the old saying goes, “It’s not the destination but the journey that counts.” That’s the attitude I want to see in an adventure film. There are many films that showcase this attitude, but I want to narrow it down to a top five list. That narrowing process was quite difficult because adventure is usually paired with other genres. Personally, I think adventure pairs nicely with fantasy and sci-fi films. Some of the film franchises on this list may appear later on another list. 

Before I reveal my top five list, I want to explore a few stand-alone adventure films. The first is The Goonies, directed by Richard Donner. This film follows a group of youngster who stumble upon a treasure map, that happens to be real. I like that this film has an eclectic group that can draw from each other’s strengths and weakness. The next film is a farce on the classic Arthurian Legends. Monty Python and the Holy Grail brings out the sense of adventure, but with a comedic spin. I like that the film basically turns the King Arthur story into a silly adventure. Another film that fills the comedic adventure role that I like is, The Princess Bride. The last film I want to share with you is a film that hits many emotional notes, that film is Up. Up is a Pixar film that follows the life of Carl and his sense of adventure. This film is one of my favorite Pixar films. After exploring some of my favorite stand-alone adventure films, I can finally reveal the list you all have been waiting for.  

My Top Five: 
  1. Tolkien's Middle Earth (The Lord of the Rings Trilogy and The Hobbit Films) 
  2. Indiana Jones 
  3. The Pirates of the Caribbean
  4. The Chronicle of Narnia
  5. The Mummy Trilogy
  • The Lord of the Rings is a story of a Hobbit name Frodo Baggins, who is tasked with destroying a magical ring of great power. Along the way he is allied with eight companions who help him along his journey. This journey tests each and every one of the members of the fellowship, that's one of the main reasons why I like it so much. The Hobbit on the other hand is supposed to be more light hearted following a Hobbit named Bilbo Baggins and a company of thirteen dwarves. Their story per-dates The Lord of the Rings by roughly 60 years, but the journey is just as epic. As a film franchise it has done very well for itself. It has made roughly 5 billion dollar worldwide and that's not including the last Hobbit film which comes out this December. The films have taken home numerous Academy Awards. I can conclude that this film series is overall a great franchise
  • Indiana Jones made archaeology cool way before Lara Croft. Indiana Jones is a professor of archaeology who travels the world in search for ancient artifacts, which have included the Ark of the Covenant, and the Holy Grail. Indy mission in these films is to keep the artifacts out of the wrong hands, usually the Nazi's. It is interesting to see Indiana Jones come full circle. The character of Indiana Jones was inspired from old 1930's adventure serials, while characters like Lora Croft were inspired from Indy.
  • The Pirates of the Caribbean is a film inspired from a ride at Disneyland. The main protagonist is Captain Jack Sparrow who seems to perpetually get himself into trouble, but with a little luck and some skill he weasels his way out. The Pirates of the Caribbean is a modern swashbuckling film that is fairly enjoyable. The film franchise started off very solid, but dwindled over the years, well critically anyways. Financially The Pirates of the Caribbean film do pretty decently so much so the studios are willing to make more. There is another film schedule to come out in 2017.
  • The Chronicle of Narnia is one of those film series that I will praise in my fantasy list, in the weeks to come, but for now I want to talk about it as an adventure film. The story starts with four children playing hide-and-go-seek in an old house. One of the children hides in a wardrobe, which happens to be a gateway to the land of Narnia. Her curiosity leads her deeper into this mysterious land. After meeting with a faun she returns home and shares her adventure with her siblings. The siblings don't believe her at first, but they entertain her imagination and discover Narnia themselves. Its that childish curiosity that makes The Chronicle of Narnia film good adventures.
  • The Mummy Trilogy has a slight Indiana Jones feel, especially since the main cast are treasure hunters and adventures. The film also modernizes the classic mummy horror flick. I think the The Mummy Trilogy is fun an adventure. The spin-off film The Scorpion King was bad, I DO NOT recommend the film.

No comments: