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									                         THE ACTION ADVENTURE

War movies, cop movies, and westerns can all be classified as Action-
Adventure. Films that fit this category include Braveheart, STAR
WARS, Independence Day, Con Air, Saving Private Ryan.

The dramatic emphasis is on the character’s willingness to die for an
idea, code, value, or in the act of supporting society.

The physical world is out of the ordinary, maybe even exaggerated –
the most hyper-real of all the genres. It is a masculine world with
room to maneuver and take physical action in the defense of a fragile
or threatened civilization. Overall action takes place in a chase or
a state of siege.

The main character is willing to die for an idea or value and is up
against an equally motivated antagonist who is morally different.

Action-adventure characters are larger than life and twice as grand.


1. The “Big Idea” Premise
Action–adventure films are most often high-concept with a main
storyline that involves the hero saving the world from destruction.
More   frequently   action-adventure films   have  franchise/series

2. The Hero is an “Average Guy” or “Larger than Life” Character
The Average Guy hero (John McClain in Die Hard, Neo in The Matrix) is
 an unwilling participant who gets himself into a predicament and is
 forced to take action. The “Larger than Life” hero (such as Batman) is
 already prepared to fight and save the day and doesn’t usually require
 any convincing to take action. Sometimes the Action-Adventure hero is
 an “anti-hero” character (such as Danny Ocean in Ocean’s 11.)

3. High Stakes
The stakes for the hero are often extremely high: the destruction of
 earth by an asteroid (Armageddon), the death of innocent hostages held
 in a skyscraper (Die Hard), the annihilation of entire planets by a
 space-station super-weapon (Star Wars)

4. Plot-Driven
Action-adventure films are plot-driven. The events that make up the
 story’s plot consist of the hero’s efforts to thwart the villain’s

5. Present a “Good vs. Evil” Theme
The theme of action-adventure stories is basically “good vs. evil”.
This theme is often narrowed and personalized based on the hero’s
emotional stakes (for instance, Lethal Weapon’s narrowed theme focuses
on the importance of family.) The hero almost always reflects and
upholds the current morals of society.
6. A Title that Reflects The Action and Content of the Story
A vibrant title that evokes the action, adventure, and premise of the
 story is a key component to the genre. (Iron Man, Terminator, Lethal
 Weapon, Braveheart, Die Hard, Armageddon)

7. The Villain Has a Masterful Plan
The villain’s plan provides the catalyst for the hero’s adventure. The
 villain’s plan sets up the hero’s goal (which is to stop the villain’s

8. The Villain Is More Powerful than the Hero
Creating a villain that is more powerful than the hero forces the
protagonist to transform. In action-adventure films where the
protagonist is a “Larger than Life” character, the hero often has a
weakness the villain can exploit (such as kryptonite against

9. The Hero and The Villain Do Battle to the “Death”
Though the obligatory scene (the final battle between the protagonist
and the antagonist) does not always involve the literal “death” of the
villain, the hero always triumphs in some way – even if the hero dies
in the battle.

10. Contain Plenty of Action Sequences
The core of an action-adventure film is of course, action: violence,
car chases, gun battles, fistfights, explosions, martial arts, and
foot pursuits. The average action-adventure film contains nine action
sequences that put the hero in physical jeopardy.

12. Snappy Dialogue
Most action-adventure films contain snappy dialogue, especially in
 stories where the hero has a buddy or ally or mentor to spar with.
 Another common dialogue element is the hero’s payback line delivered
 to the bad guy. (“Do you feel lucky? Well, do you punk?”)

12. A Ticking Clock Scenario
Many action-adventure films use a ticking-clock scenario, which
 creates urgency, heightens tension and increases suspense. Examples
 include the ticking bomb in Die Hard, the amount of time available to
 pull off the heist in Ocean’s 11, the countdown to the asteroid
 striking Earth in Armageddon, and the deadline for getting a prisoner
 on a train in 3:10 to Yuma

13. Vertical, Active Writing
Vertical writing creates an immediate, active experience for the
 reader. Action expressed in few words moves faster. The action-
 adventure writer leaves plenty of white-space on the page by breaking
 long sentences or important moments of action into short phrases and
 presenting them as separate lines of description (instead of
 paragraphs.) Action scripts use tight writing full of sound elements
 (BOOM, CRASH, BANG) and active verbs – and avoid adjectives, which
 stall action.

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