5 Pulp Adventure Movies

After seeing the trailer for Luc Besson’s film The Extraordinary Adventures of Adèle Blanc-Sec (DVD and Blu-Ray in August) making the rounds (Seriously why haven’t they released this film in the U.S. yet?!) I was struck with how everything I adore seems to be in this movie, and how we don’t often see pulp adventure stories anymore. Inspired by the trailer, I wanted to take a look back at some of the best films in the pulp adventure sub-genre*. Grab your gear and passport and join me for a list of 5 Pulp adventure films.


The Rocketeer: When down on his luck test pilot Cliff Secord finds an experimental rocket pack, he has to keep it out of the hands of gangsters and Nazi spies, along the way becoming the hero known as The Rocketeer. If you like 1930s airfields, gangsters and the gorgeous Jennifer Connelly, then welcome aboard. Based off of the 1980s Dave Stevens comic book, this Disney film was criminally underappreciated when it was first released, but has retained a small but loyal following in those of us that remember it fondly**.

Atlantis: The Lost Empire: Linguist, Milo Thatch is recruited by an eccentric millionaire for an expedition to find the lost city of Atlantis. Often overshadowed by The Emperor’s New Groove, Atlantis remains one of the last 2-D animated features from Disney. This film is perfect blend of mysticism and Jules Vernian technology and is notable for featuring a protagonist who is not the traditional man of action, but a scholar. This film is the kind of grand adventure story that we unfortunately don’t see anymore.

The Mummy: Dodgy CGI aside, this revamp of the 1930’s universal monster movie is a hell of a lot of fun. We follow Egyptologist Evie, and hired soldier Rick across the dessert to find the city of Hamunaptra. Shortly after finding the city, they accidently awaken a cursed mummy who seeks to bring his lost love back to life. The Mummy is a perfect marriage of Indiana Jones and the Universal Monsters. Death-traps, far-flung locales and battles with the undead make this a perfect pulp action film.

The Shadow: Who knows what evil lurks in the hearts me men? The Shadow knows! Spoiled millionaire, Lamont Cranston is shown the error of his selfishness, and trained in the ways of mysticism to become a dark avenger who protects the innocent and punishes the wicked as…The Shadow! This movie features, flying knives, reincarnation, mindreading, gunfights, as well as witty repartee and a wormy Tim Curry.

Tintin- The Secret of the Unicorn: Young reporter, Tintin, finds himself caught in a criminal conspiracy that takes him from Europe to the Middle East in search of a mysterious pirate ship. Tintin toes the line perfectly between cerebral plot points and tense action adventure to create a different kind of pulp film; the kind that goes back to the genre’s roots, ever so slightly brushing against the likes of H.R. Haggard and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.


Honorable Mention:

Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow: Was this movie weak in plot and character. Yes. But it delivered exactly what it promised: Episodic, 1930s gee-wiz action. This movie is perhaps the closest translation we’ve ever had to the Republic Serials of the 1930s. Giant robots, aerial dog fights and a digital cameo from Sir Laurence Olivier. Sign me up.

So, these are a few of my favorites, what are some of yours?


*I have omitted the Indiana Jones films, because even though the films were inspired by the pulps, they really did their own thing. Plus, I could spend several article posts describing my love of the films and their importance. They really deserve more than just a blurb don’t you think 😉

**Mark my words, the same thing will happen with John Carter

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