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"Dora and the Lost City of Gold" Movie Review

Updated on December 17, 2021
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Nathan is a film critic and aspiring author with a true passion for the film industry who hopes his writings will help launch his career.

What makes a family movie good? First, you need content that kids will understand and adults will be able to enjoy as well. You also need an interesting story along with relatable characters. Dora and the Lost City of Gold succeeds on all three fronts. It does have its drawbacks, which I'll get into soon, but for the most part, I enjoyed the film, which is of course based on the cartoon Dora the Explorer.

The film opens with Dora and Diego as kids, essentially establishing that the adventures they had in the cartoon were entirely within their imaginations. (Yes, the "Can you say..." line from the cartoon in which Dora speaks to the audience was utilized in the film, to which Dora's dad sheepishly states "She'll grow out of it".) Ten years after Diego moves away, Dora is sent to the United States to reunite with him and attend high school while her parents go in search of Parapata, a lost Incan city. When mercenaries kidnap Dora, Diego, and two of their friends during a class field trip, Dora finds out that her parents are in imminent danger. She and her friends must escape and find her parents before the mercenaries can get to them. If that were to happen, the city of gold would fall into the wrong hands and history would be destroyed.

Okay, let's get the only negatives out of the way: there were a couple of cringy moments, but that's due to the film's beginning trying to be exactly like the cartoon. It makes perfect sense since the prologue deals with young Dora, but I still think the "Can you say..." line could have been dropped completely. Why include two fourth-wall-break moments if the audience isn't going to be included any other time? The singing moments fit a lot better than they did. The CGI was also a bit iffy with Boots the monkey and Swipes the fox but it wasn't terrible.

Anyway, that's the only negatives I encountered. The positives were overflowing. Yes, it's designed to be for kids but, come on, what do you really expect? It's Dora the Explorer, people, not Tomb Raider. I loved how 95% of the cast was Latino. The film celebrated cultural diversity and it shined because of it. Isabella Moner, who played Dora, is already proving how much range she has and she's only 18. She's been in Sicario: Day of the Soldado, Transformers: The Last Knight, and a Broadway production of Evita. It's evident that she's a talented young woman who is sure to be a big name one day. The story flowed very well. While for adults, and even most kids, the "mystery" aspect is pretty easy to figure out, it's still a lot of fun, mostly due to the energy of the cast.

In conclusion, don't go into this movie expecting Indiana Jones (even though there's some obvious callbacks). This is based on a young children's show so obviously the movie is geared toward young children. If you take it as is, you'll have a lot of fun. I give the film a 3 out of 4.

© 2019 Nathan Jasper


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