The Best and the Worst Adventuring Archeologist Movies

01
of 07

Tomb Raider

The Worst!

The two Tomb Raider films were based, of course, on the video game.  And the video game was based on Indiana Jones.  Neither of the films were any good in that they are imminently forgettable - I've seen them both and I don't remember a single thing about either film, not a joke, not a character, not a single plot line, not even a particularly outstanding action sequence.  And that, after an investment of probably $300 hundred million dollars across both films and numerous individuals with likely considerable talent is a travesty.  That so many artists can be well funded and fail to produce a single scene over two films which imprints on the brain in any way is failure of the worst sort...the WORST SORT!  And for that reason, I'm calling these films, The Worst!  (The only thing these films had going for them was a female action hero!)

02
of 07

Allen Quartermain

The Worst!

Allen Quartermain is an old British hero from the Victorian era, an explorer and adventurer of the African "dark continent."  And so, in 1985, Hollywood attempted a franchise, starring Richard Chamberlain and a very young Sharon Stone, which was clearly modeled off of Indiana Jones, but was supposed to be a more funny, sillier Indiana Jones.  Besides for being horrible, having awful production values, a poor script, and unlikeable characters, the filmmakers failed to realize that no one wanted a parody of Indiana Jones, we like the real thing.  King Soloman's Mines stands at 13% at Rotten Tomatoes.  Although critically panned, it was financially successful and its sequel, the Lost City of Gold, was released a few years later.  Only then, did the franchise (thankfully) end.  Another, The Worst!

03
of 07

The Mummy

The Worst!

Brendan Fraser starred in The Mummy in 1999, this was the dawning days of digital effects where the screen was laden with what, at the time, were considered to be mind blowing special effects, but these days look just awful.  The Mummy was Indiana Jones but with a bit of movie monster and magic thrown in, which actually doesn't sound like that bad of an idea.  Unfortunately, the Mummy itself was an entirely CGI created beast which wasn't the least bit scary and Brendan Fraser's bumbling bravado isn't charming the way Ford's sly confidence was.  These are more films for kids than anything else.  (Click here for the Worst Big Monster Movies and here for the Best.)

04
of 07

Sahara

The Worst!

And yet another attempt to copy the spirit of Indiana Jones.  This time Matthew McConaughey is Dirk Pitt, international adventurer and treasure hunter, while Steve Zahn is his bumbling (and annoying) sidekick.  Based on the Clive Cussler novel, they were clearly intending for this expensive flop to be a franchise starter.  But, unfortunately, overly broad semi-racist jokes about Africans (the film is based in Africa), and a tone that can't decide what it wants to be (serious adventurer?  drama?  goofball comedy?) means the film meanders all over the place.  Nothing worth watching here.

05
of 07

National Treasure

The Worst!

This is one of the few hits that Nicolas Cage had post-.  In the film, he plays a sort of modern day adventurer that unlocks mysteries and has Indiana Jones style adventures...but with the twist that they're set in America!  So Cage pursues hidden artifacts related to the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence.  As a concept, it's not bad.  But the problem is...it's not clever.  For example, the film pretends that there are clues on our money the no one noticed, and ancient riddles are solved in just a few minutes.  It's like Indiana Jones but for dum people.  A smarter version of this could have worked, this one didn't.

06
of 07

Romancing the Stone

The Best!

This mid-1980s gem starring Michael Douglas as an adventurer in Columbia that gets caught up in the quest for rescuing author Kathleen Turner's sister who has been kidnapped by drug cartels is what all of these other films have aspired to be:  Adventurous, exciting, funny, sexy, and smart.  The trick that makes this film work when all the others have failed is the spark between the leads, and the charisma of a young Michael Douglas who has the same sort of rogue charm as Harrison Ford.  (There was a sequel Jewel of the Nile that flopped, but we'll ignore that one for the time being.)

07
of 07

Indiana Jones

Indiana Jones
Indiana Jones.

The Best!

This is the franchise that all the others are aspiring to be and failing at.  Which means that playing Indiana Jones and making it work is no easy feat.  Harrison Ford takes a very hard task and makes it look very easy.  There's a reason this is one of the most influential action films of all time.  Here's hoping they get to number five sooner rather than later!