The Best Adventure Movies of the 2000s, Ranked

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The Best Adventure Movies of the 2000s, Ranked


As the clock ticked to midnight in December 1999, the world braced for a brand-new century. The year 2000 was met with excitement, fear, and an opportunity to kick off the millennium with a bang! The following 10 years would present its share of ups and downs in Hollywood and the movie industry would gift audiences with some of the greatest adventure movies ever released. From Ancient Rome to the high seas, and every Middle Earth location in between. These are the best adventure movies of the 2000s.


10 King Kong (2005)

Universal Pictures

Following the completion of his Middle Earth trilogy, all eyes were on Peter Jackson and what he might bring to the big screen next. Those thoughts were answered when it was announced his version of King Kong would arrive in theaters in 2005. This adaptation full of ups and downs takes us deeper into the jungles of Skull Island where we meet a number of prehistoric creatures living there, in stunning Peter Jackson effects. All of this prior to the monkey’s trip to the US, complete with fighter jets and building climbs. Jackson’s take on the classic monster gave new breath to an old property, while also delivering a fun and action-packed adventure.

9 Kingdom of Heaven (2005)

Bloom Kingdom of Heaven Warner Bros Pictures
Warner Bros Pictures

This 2005 Ridley Scott-directed epic adventure movie stars Orlando Bloom. Taking place following the Second Crusade and to varying degrees of historical accuracy, and finds Bloom’s character the defender of his city against invaders. The epic scale of the battles in the movie was unmatched for its time, topped only by a later entry on this list. Kingdom of Heaven remains a standout adventure film of the 2000s.

Related: Here Are 5 Movies With Incredibly Different Director’s Cuts

8 Apocalypto (2006)

A still from Apocalypto
20th Century Fox

Featuring a cast entirely composed of Native American and Indigenous Mexican actors. This Mel Gibson epic adventure film tells the story of a Mayan kingdom in decline and the battles and consternation caused by invading forces. Gibson’s direction and commitment to making the movie as authentic as possible help make Apocalypto a memorable adventure.

7 Star Trek (2009)

Zoe Saldana in Star Trek
Paramount Pictures

Before J.J. Abrams took audiences to a galaxy far, far away, he reintroduced Star Trek to a new generation. Featuring a cast of soon-to-be stars including Chris Pine, Zoe Saldana, and Karl Urban. This vibrant, fun, and lense flair-filled epic space adventure took the franchise in new exciting directions while also paying homage to what has come before.

6 Kung Fu Panda (2008)

Kung Fu Panda
Paramount Pictures 

Kung Fu Panda is a brilliantly-animated take on the martial arts genre by filmmakers John Stevenson and Mark Osborne. An action-packed and zen-like experience of a film, it has spawned countless sequels, video games, television series, and Manga. It is one of the best-animated comedies of the 2000s, but more importantly, it is one of the best adventure films of the new millennium.

Related: These Are Lucy Liu’s Best Performances, Ranked

5 Avatar (2009)

20th Century Fox

Avatar truly took the world by storm in 2009, shattering almost all box office records, and introducing the world to stunning visuals never before seen on screen. The story is rather simple, as a far-off planet begins to be mined for resources by a futuristic and desperate human population. What makes this adventure movie one of the finest of the 2000s is the spectacle on screen and the scale of the journey audiences are taken on.

4 300 (2006)

300 The Battle Of Thermopylae
Warner Bros.

Another adventure movie from the 2000s high on visuals is Zack Snyder’s 300. Based on the comic series created by Frank Miller and Lynn Varley, the movie tells the tale of Ancient Spartan warriors and their battle with the Persian army. The movie is chocked full of awe-inspiring sets and battles; this epic adventure film truly showcases Snyder’s filmmaking ability making it one of his finest films in the process.

3 Gladiator (2000)

Russell Crowe as Maximus Decimus Meridius in the battleground
DreamWorks Distribution LLC (North America) & United International Pictures (International)

Director Ridley Scott has delivered an impressive resume of films during his career, with Gladiator being one of if not the best ones to date. Complete with Oscar-worthy acting by Russell Crowe, the film also took home the Academy Award for best picture at the 73rd Academy Awards ceremony. A truly sprawling and brutal adventure film to kick off a new decade.

Related: Best Film Scores of the 2000s

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

Pirates of the Caribbean_ The Curse of the Black Pearl- Jack Sparrow
Distributed by Buena Vista Pictures Distribution

Movies have been adapted from all kinds of things, novels, comics, toys, games, and even theme park rides. When it was announced that Disney had plans to make a feature film based on their Disney World ride, Pirates of the Caribbean, anticipation was not at an all-time high, to say the least. What followed blew everyone away as Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl was released in 2003, exceeding all expectations and blowing audiences away. A true masterpiece of filmmaking, the franchise would go on to produce five films in total, toppling a whopping $654 million worth of box office during the franchise’s run. It all started with The Curse of the Black Pearl, one of the 2000s great adventure films.

1 The Lord of the Rings Trilogy (2001, 2002, 2003)

Elijah Wood in The Lord of the Rings
New Line Cinema

Each movie in The Lord of the Rings trilogy is unique in its own right. The Fellowship of the Ring, The Two Towers, and Return of the King, each bring something different to the trilogy, making it nearly impossible to choose one from the three to represent the best adventure film of the 2000s. It would also be a disservice to the overall narrative that is The Lord of the Rings, as each film helps to tell one big overarching story. Through a stunning mix of practical effects and sets, a sprinkle of CGI, and tremendous acting, this adventure trilogy is as epic in scope as it is deep in heart. Bringing to life some of the richest characters ever put on screen, the movies transported audiences to Middle Earth and will do so for future generations.


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