Dora and the Lost City of Gold comes as the latest release to follow the adaptation trend. In this live-action continuation of the Nickelodeon cartoon, Dora the Explorer, there are countless references to the original cartoons within minutes. Echoes of the original songs and Dora’s asides to the camera, breaking the fourth wall, demonstrates the film’s refusal to shy away from its heritage.
Yet the film focuses on a teenage Dora (Isabela Moner), ten years after her adventures in the Peruvian jungle with her cousin Diego (Jeff Wahlberg). The cousins are finally reunited when her scholar parents (Eva Longoria and Michael Piña) believe they have located the Incan city Parapata. All the while, Dora must explore her most challenging environment to date; the American High School.
This is where the film’s greatest problem begins. As quickly as her endless optimism and constant singing earns her the nickname ‘Dorka’, must she and her classmates return to the jungle. Not only would it have been more fulfilling for fans of the show to see Dora’s development here, but the film from thereon cannot seem to grasp a consistent sense of pacing. Everything feels rushed to saturate the action with one too many Indiana Jones-esque jungle puzzles and booby traps as the group search for the ‘Lost City of Gold’. This doesn’t allow tension to build properly, and the film continually breaks down as events happen with no explanation.
Those who grew up watching the cartoon will appreciate the nostalgic throwbacks and nods. Dora and the Lost City of Gold succeeds in those encounters with old friends and familiar faces, as these moments are handled with fun without being exhaustingly cliché. A lot of this should be credited to Moner’s ability to transform a literal 2D animated character into one that holds depth. A character whose unbreakable positivity should be as perpetually aggravating, instead Dora is played as highly intelligent, independent and strong, whilst her sarcastic and ironic delivery means each of her lines hit the mark.
The film’s comedic mixture of clever with slapstick humour, and the occasion fart/poo joke means the film is enjoyable for all ages. Combined with the witty swipes at colonial mentalities and call outs of misogyny confirms it is a film of this age, one that carries self-awareness and a moral message without being too tokenistic. Whilst it wouldn’t make some rush out to the cinema any time soon, if you’re being dragged by younger siblings or happen to be a grown-up Dora fan, you won’t be disappointed.
Image Credit: Movie DB