Dora and the Lost City of Gold is an entertaining adventure, the kind the entire family can enjoy together. Making nearly $119MM worldwide from a $49MM budget, there’s a risk we might not see further adventures, and that would be a shame. Raiders of the Lost Ark-inspired adventures with positive messages about self, lessons about inclusivity and honesty, and positive representations of diverse characters are in short supply these days. We need more sincere adventures and explorations for kids and families to enjoy, absent the cynicism that has grabbed just about everything else. The team behind Dora and the Lost City of Gold is who I’d nominate to bring other childhood favorites to the big screen simply because they seem to understand the importance of innocence, knowing but not cloying winks, and the balance of spectacle and quiet.
The Production: 4/5
“You’re not a kid. But you’re not a grown-up either, Dora. You’re a teenager. It’s a super-confusing time. But the fact is, you’re right. You can’t do it by yourself. Good news is, you have friends now, and together anything is possible.”
Dora has spent her whole life living in the Peruvian jungle with her explorer parents, learning, discovering and living in harmony with her canopied world. When she was 6, her 7-year-old cousin Diego, and his family, who had been living in the jungle as well, returned to America. Dora and Diego promise to remain friends. 10 years later, when Dora’s parents discover the location of Parapeta, a secret and hidden Inca city, and must relocate for the next step of their exploration, Dora must leave for America – an alien world to her – and stay with her cousin, Diego and family. In her new home, she finds that her wide-eyed enthusiasm and deep intelligence doesn’t win her many friends in high-school, and Diego seems to have forgotten their fun adventures. But adventure soon comes calling when Dora, along with Diego and two kids from her class, are abducted and taken to Peru where they escape and must find Dora’s parents before the thugs who abducted them do.
Shows that make the leap from the small to the big screen and work well are exceptions to the rule. For every Star Trek, Mission: Impossible and The Untouchables there’s a Masters of the Universe, Starsky & Hutch and Flintstones aplenty. So, it is with surprise and some delight that Dora and the Lost City of Gold, based upon Nickelodeon’s long-running animated series, Dora the Explorer, is such a delight. In the original animated series, Dora, a Latina seven-year old, heads off on a series of adventures with her talking purple backpack and Boots, her monkey. Their adventures had them solving language and math puzzles, overcoming obstacles, and engaging directly with the audience (talking to the ‘camera’), while also working to stop a character called Swiper from stealing things. Educational, engaging, and wildly popular, Dora became beloved by preschoolers. The character, after 8 seasons, received a makeover to become a pre-teen version, appearing in a new show, Dora and Friends, which ran an additional two seasons. It is that version of the character, and her adventures, that largely inspire this cinematic teenage-version adaptation.
Dora’s first big screen outing has an undeniable charm. It’s a true family-friendly adventure finding its laughs in innocent misadventure, knowing winks to the audience (and fans of the original animated series) and a sprightly cast of interesting characters. The family-oriented fun is worn like a badge of honor, embedded into the story itself.
Dora succeeds rewardingly in the earnest embrace of fun and the fish-out-of-water misadventures the characters experience – first with Dora attending school in the big city for the first time after growing up in the jungle, and then with her city friends roughing it in the jungle, outside their comfort zones, after they are kidnapped. There was more to be explored in the sequences with Dora struggling to fit in at the High School (something we can all relate to), but that miss is perhaps the only serious fail the film has.
Director James Bobin (The Muppets, Muppets Most Wanted), using a screenplay by Nicholas Stoller and Matthew Robins, keeps the film moving and playful at almost every turn. He’s afforded a terrific cast, let by the super Isabela Merced as the lead, Dora. Merced ably balances Dora’s unflinching open mind and heart with the weight of her challenges. She brings us a Dora not oblivious to not fitting in or failing, but more concerned with being authentic to herself and trusting of her instincts and skills. It’s such a welcome message that isn’t beaten over our heads. The lessons are all organic and earned.
Joining Merced in the feature are Eva Longoria and Michael Peña as her explorer parents, Jeff Wahlberg as Dora’s once close cousin, Diego, Madeleine Madden and Nicholas Coombe as Sammy and Randy, two fellow students kidnapped with Dora and Diego, and Eugenio Derbez as Alejandro, the man who rescues Dora and friends and helps them try to find Dora’s parents in the jungle.
3D Rating: NA
Dora and the Lost City of Gold on Blu-ray is a colorful, bright and happy treat. With a 1.78:1 aspect ratio, the frame is filled with strong contrast, with rich greens dominating the heavy jungle settings. Skin tones are natural and on the warmer end and the effects work and especially the ‘cartoon’ sequence gets a good showcase. Outside of a 4K release, this is as terrific an image as you’re likely to find.
Paramount brings Dora home with a rambunctious and active Dolby Atmos track (that will play as Dolby TrueHD 7.1 for those not Atmos ready.) Frequently alive in all around the surrounds, Dora and the Lost City of Gold is abundant with sound effects and a lively score by John Debney and Germaine Franco. The center channel carries most of the dialogue and is well balanced and issue free.
Special Features: 3/5
There isn’t a lot here, and what is here runs on the short side, but it covers some good ground and offers a lighter approach, for younger audience, to see behind the scenes.
Bloopers – Take a trip to the wild side with hilarious bloopers of the cast’s funniest on-set mishaps.
Deleted and Extended Scenes – Journey deeper into the jungle to find the “lost” scenes not shown in theaters.
All About Dora – Discover how Isabela Moner transformed Dora into a jungle-savvy teenage adventurer for a new generation.
Can You Say Pelicula? – Unlock the mystery of underwater stunts and surviving quicksand with Eugenio Derbez.
Dora In Flower Vision – Explore the movie’s playful animated sequence, a treasure trove of nods to Dora’s cartoon origins.
Dora’s Jungle House – The adventure continues with this behind-the-scenes tour of Dora’s jungle house, part museum, part laboratory, and always a place for family.
DVD version of the film
Dora and the Lost City of Gold is an entertaining adventure, the kind the entire family can enjoy together. Making nearly $119MM worldwide from a $49MM budget, there’s a risk we might not see further adventures, and that would be a shame. Raiders of the Lost Ark-inspired adventures with positive messages about self, lessons about inclusivity and honesty, and positive representations of diverse characters are in short supply these days. We need more sincere adventures and explorations for kids and families to enjoy, absent the cynicism that has grabbed just about everything else. The team behind Dora and the Lost City of Gold is who I’d nominate to bring other childhood favorites to the big screen simply because they seem to understand the importance of innocence, knowing but not cloying winks, and the balance of spectacle and quiet.https://smile.amazon.com/Dora-Lost-City-Gold-Blu-ray/dp/B07W17957L/ref=sr_1_3?crid=3NYIY8KR70PB0&keywords=dora+and+the+lost+city+of+gold+blu+ray&qid=1576896857&sprefix=dora+and%2Caps%2C175&sr=8-3