It’s a terrible time to be an adventure enthusiast. Who knew at the crack of midnight when most of us were busy celebrating the coming of the new year, that it would look like this? Who knew the first few months of 2020 would bring in a pandemic that grips the world. With skater parks being left empty, climbing gyms shutting down indefinitely, states and countries sealing their borders, the situation is as grim as it can get for someone who likes to jump off an aeroplane 14,000 ft high, dive into the deepest of waters, fly like a bird with a wing on the back, cut through powdered snow on a board, navigate through ferocious currents in a river, or all of these.
That being said, although the coronavirus lockdown has brought life to a halt for those who like it exciting at best, it’s undeniable that Mother Earth has taken to healing. Sea turtles are surfacing on popular surf beaches, the grass is growing back on frequented mountain trails, reefs finally have more fish than divers and the sky is always blue. So here is our list of top 12 adventure sports movies to watch while on coronavirus lockdown, finished with our personalized EverOutdoor (EO) ratings!
1. Meru (7.8/10)
Meru follows the journey of three of the world’s most beloved climbers- Jimmy Chin, Conrad Anker and Renan Ozturk- as they document their way to the mighty Mount Meru in the Garhwal Himalayas in the state of Uttarakhand in India. This documentary film captures the three men taken on the “Shark’s Fin” route- a 4,000 ft wall- of the mountain for the very first time in the history of climbing. Surviving life-threatening injuries, an avalanche, and personal battles, this fantastic cinematography shows how the men finally succeed- after failing the first time.
2. 127 Hours (7.7/10)
This gripping movie starring James Franco is based on a true story. The film follows a mountain climber on his solo hiking journey in the Bluejohn Canyon in Utah, USA and the misadventures that follow. Watch Aron Ralston (Franco) get trapped by a boulder in an isolated spot in the canyon, with nothing on him except for a camcorder and a multitool to make it through. Ralston survives an unimaginable ordeal in these 127 hours with a mix of depression, hallucination, willpower and destiny. This gruesome tale of survival is sure to live with you long after you’ve finished watching it.
3. Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara (8.2/10)
Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara became the quintessential bachelor road trip movie soon after its release- and with good reason. The film follows an adventurous journey of three friends who set off on a 3-week long trip across Europe while indulging in some of the extremest adventure sports out there. As they make their way into scuba diving, bullfighting and sky diving, they also face their inner demons and learn to make the most of each passing moment. Watch it now on Netflix or Amazon Prime.
4. Valley Uprising (8.3/10)
Valley Uprising is based in Yosemite National Park, USA as it follows the revolution that made climbing as we know it today. Set in a time when climbing was not seen as a respectable sport- rather an adrenaline crazed sport done by outlaws of the society, this movie shows us the phenomenal spirit of madmen who dedicated their lives to this sport. The movie is less about climbing as it is about freedom and authority and many other broader themes. Leaving a life of materialism behind, these climbers make their way into the Park, leading a hippie way of life with nothing but nature to sustain them, while clashing with the authorities and getting into (lots) of trouble- all for us to know how to climb and climb freely.
5. Maidentrip (7.6/10)
Maidentrip is based on the real-life journey of fourteen years old Laura Dekker from New Zealand who becomes the youngest person in the world to sail across the world- solo. After facing issues on land such as struggling with divorced parents and later getting permission to go on such an unimaginable journey at her age, the movie follows Dekker’s challenges as she finally sets sail, only two return 518 days later, at the age of sixteen.
6. North of the Sun (8.6/10)
This Norwegian film follows the journey of two boys – Inge (25 years old) and Jorn (22 years old) as they spend 9 months in a remote, uninhabited arctic island in Northern Norway. They overcome obstacles like making a cabin out of driftwood washed ashore and eating expired food to survive only for their passion for riding some of the finest waves ever. With their surfboards and a whole lot of determination, they face the biting cold of the arctic on this journey of a lifetime.
7. Fishpeople (7.5/10)
Fishpeople is a feel-good documentary film that follows the lives of people living on the fringes of society, of at-risk kids and social outcasts and how the ocean transformed their lives. As surfers, divers and swimmers, these six “Fishpeople” serve the ocean and their communities and find healing and a purpose in life by being in the sea.
8. The Endless Summer (7.9/10)
The Endless Summer is a 1966 documentary film and a surf movie. The film follows two ace surfers Robert August and Mike Hynson on a journey across the world to discover some of the greatest surf spots on the planet. On their journey to Australia, New Zealand, Tahiti, Haiti, Senegal, Ghana, Nigeria and South Africa, the duo also tries to generate awareness of the sport amongst the locals. This movie follows the idea of an “endless summer” where, with time and money, one can travel across the hemispheres throughout the year to surf, and not have to wait for the winters to pass.
9. That’s It, That’s All (8.5/10)
That’s It, That’s All is an inspirational movie that follows the influential snowboarder Travis Rice as he tries to find new tricks and perspectives to the sport. The film also talks about the challenges that come with being a professional snowboarder and the politics of the sport. The insane cinematography of the film will leave you speechless as Rice answers why snowboarding is an all-consuming sport for many like him.
10. Whip It (6.9/10)
Whip It is a lot different than other adventure sports movies out there. Following the journey of a 17-year-old girl who defies her mother’s wishes of competing in beauty pageants. Based on a novel written by Shuna Cross, “Derby Girl” and directed by Drew Barrymore, this film shows us how a misfit teenager finds a way to deal with her misery by joining a roller derby league nearby.
11. Touching the Void (8.1/10)
Touching the Void is a hard-hitting docudrama that focuses on survival. The film revolves around the almost fatal disastrous climb of two climbers Simon Yates and Joe Simpson as they attempted to summit the Siula Grande in the Cordillera Huayhuash Range of the Andes in Peru. The climbers attempted to scale the mountain’s previously unattempted West Face in 1985 and were hit with a terrible storm, a badly broken leg due to a fall and attempts of self-rescue. If you’re looking for reasons to not climb, this movie is it.
12. On Any Sunday (7.9/10)
This American documentary film series is all about motorcycling as a sport. On Any Sunday shows us the different faces of the same sport through motocross racers, desert racers, etc. If you’re a petrolhead quarantined inside the walls of your home, this movie will take you right back on the tracks. Featuring motorbikes like Triumph, Harley Davidson, Suzuki and others, On Any Sunday is said to be for motorcyclists what “The Endless Summer” was for surfers.
Scuba diving, surfing, sailing, snowboarding- whatever your fix might be, there’s been a movie made for each of us adrenaline junkies. As outdoor enthusiasts, not much can be done while being on the coronavirus lockdown, but we can still try to go back to our dreams, if only virtually. With the likes of YouTube, Amazon Prime and Netflix so accessible to us, let’s try to not lose our minds staying indoors! If you have any more recommendations of adventure movies for us, we’d love to know about them in the comments!