Review: Dora and the Lost City of Gold

DIR/WRI: James Bobin • Matthew Robinson, Nicholas Stoller • PRO: Kristin Burr • DOP: Javier Aguirresarobe • ED: Mark Everson • DES: Barbara Ling • MUS: John Debney, Germaine Franco • CAST: Isabela Moner, Eugenio Derbez, Michael Peña

Hey you freeloading users of Film Ireland online. Are you looking for value for your zero-money-spend visit to this website??? Because right here in this here review, you are going to get true value for money. Because I have employed* two junior reviewers to join me in reviewing Dora and the City Of Gold.

*In case anyone from child services is reading this, I didn’t actually employ them. They did it for the pure love and passion for cinema. Like every Film Ireland reviewer…

So we are going to review Dora not once, not twice but thrice.

Joining me are seasoned film goers, Elise Nangle and Marcus Nangle. What they lack in age, they make up for in experience. Both being avid cinema goers. And even their parents are steeped in the old timey picture-house business too. So it’s in their D.N.A. 

I’m first up. 

Dora  and the City of Gold  reviewed by James Phelan (Age – Bronze)

Can you say …… ‘Wise and Witty Update of Mostly Unpromising Source Material’?

Can you? Because Paramount Pictures can.

 Like the savvy reboot of Peter Rabbit before it, here lies a clever and cheeky live action aging up of a cartoon that moves Dora from pre-school appeal to something a lot more universal.

Fidelity to source material isn’t always a virtue. If Dora made the jump to live action without adding some extra sass, charm and humour, most parents and accompanying adults would be locked in an instant endurance test or on their phones throughout a gamut of sappy purity. 

Instead we are served up a genuine family entertainment that is energetically paced and performed with plenty of pizzazz.  The film quickly establishes it is having affectionate fun with its own origins with some knowing winks to the audience. That helpfully happen to be hilarious.

It also helps that a real gem is unearthed in the lead role. Isabela Moner depicts a Dora that expertly navigates the fine balance between perky positivity and annoying innocence. When she moves to LA from the rainforest, her fish-out-of-water antics blend deliberate cringe factor with real wit and insight. Onscreen characters turn against her in a plausible way but the audience remains firmly on her side.  

Before long, Dora is back in the jungle searching for her missing parents with a few ill prepared classmates in tow including her sulky cousin Diego. What follows is a familiar trek through jungle escapades, traps and intricate ancient puzzles. But it’s all breezily staged and infused with just enough Lara Croft jeopardy to occasionally raise a pulse. If not an eyebrow.

By the end, even an early plot contrivance is revealed to be a rather clever piece of storytelling. And smidges of real regret emerge – like pining for a bit more screen time for Michael Pena and Eva Longoria as parents who seem like they should be giving lessons in chemistry and not archaeology. Add in the most charming closing dance sequence this side of Slumdog and we have a film that is way better than could have been reasonably expected. And how often do we get to say that these days????

And now I’d like to pass the mic to Elise….

Elise Nangle (Age: 10 and a half)

I really liked this movie. I used to watch the TV show when I was younger. The film is very different. The main difference being that it is live action. One of the elements that they keep is the amounts of songs the characters sing during the story. One song in particular was a bit rude but I will leave that as a surprise.

Isabela Moner was really good in the lead role as Dora. She was very likeable, funny and energetic. Dora’s father was especially funny. I know him from a lot of other movies too. Unlike the cartoon, the character of Diego is pretty grumpy in the film until he realises that Dora is his only chance of surviving in a very dangerous situation. Then he realises that family need to stick together.  At first glance, one of the other actors was very charming but there is a twist towards the end.

I would describe the movie as an adventure comedy. It is mostly set in the jungle but there is a sequence in the city where Dora is out of her comfort zone. She doesn’t entirely understand life in the city and the city people don’t really understand her either.

The movie reminded me mostly of the new Jumanji film. I would recommend this film to anyone who thinks they are too old for the Dora cartoons. I would like to thank Paramount Pictures for inviting us to the preview. It was the best movie I have seen this summer. And I’ve seen a lot of movies this summer!!!!

Marcus Nangle (Age 8)

I only really watched the Dora cartoons when my sister used to but I was looking forward to the movie because the trailer made it look action-packed.

I was not disappointed. There were some exciting bits. Some surprising bits. And some funny bits. Even the songs were funny. One of my favourite bits was when Dora’s father was describing dance music and making the sounds with his mouth.

Dora had to move to the city for a bit because her parents wanted to go find an ancient city filled with gold. They left her behind because they didn’t think she was ready for adventure and danger.  She proved them wrong for the rest of the film.

Along with the human characters, there were also some animated ones from the cartoon. The good guys had Boots, who is a monkey. And the bad guys had Swiper, who is a fox and steals stuff.

I liked how the movie started without any ads. That was really cool. I would like there to be a sequel to this film and I would definitely go.

 

James Phelan

102′ 18″
PG (see IFCO for details)

Dora and the Lost City of Gold is released 14th August 2019

Dora and the Lost City of Gold – Official Website

 

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