DORA AND THE LOST CITY OF GOLD, US, 2019. Starring Isabel Moner, Jeffrey Wahlberg, Nicholas Coombe, Madeleine Madden, Eugene Deberz, Eva Longoria, Michael Peña, Adriana Barazza, Temuera Morrison. Voices of: Benicio del Toro, Danny Trejo. Directed by James Bobin. 102 minutes. Rated PG (Mild sense of threat)
it probably depends upon how old you are. Adult audiences may well remember Dora comics and stories, Nickelodeon cartoons from the past decades and have a soft spot for Dora and all her adventures. Younger audiences, although teenagers may identify with the characters, may enjoy accompanying Dora in her adventures, as little girl in Peru, as a teenager at school in the US, but, principally and more dangerously, back in the jungle.
The filmmakers and writers have had a career in making films about teenagers, some raucous comedies, work with the Muppets. They gear their screenplay to the younger audiences, some repartee, some very corny lines, some obvious adventures and dangers – with some magic stirred in.
The film shows its cartoon and animation origins – at one stage, the characters reverting from their human shapes to their cartoon form. And, there is a villainous swiping Fox (voiced by Benicio del Toro), a genial talking bird (Boots voiced by Danny Trejo), and a backpack which also talks.
One of the ways of appreciating what is happening on the screen and the characters and their performances is to think of a cinema equivalent of pantomime. Dora is the enthusiastic exuberant heroine, the indomitable type. Her three teenage companions, including her cousin Diego, are more stereotypical, the bossy girl transported to the jungle and losing her cool, the dork type who puts his foot in it although he has learned number of lessons from playing computer games, and the cousin who is meant to be the Prince Charming (although very stolid in his screen presence and performance).
Dora’s parents are explorers and there are some villains (think pantomime) who abduct Dora and, by accident, her companions, fly them to Peru so that they can follow her and find her parents, round everyone up and go to the secret sauce of gold and treasure.
And, more or less, this is what happens although there are all kinds of comic adventures on the way, and something of a twist when they learn the identity of the rather gawkish Professor who rescues them at the airport.
And, of course, the last part of the adventure, in an ancient temple with all kinds of doors, gates and traps, watercourses and sluices, statues and treasure, all very much in the Indiana Jones vein.
A lot of the film was actually shot in Queensland.
The appeal is directly to the younger audience rather than the adults who accompany them – but, if they think pantomime, pantomime heroine, pantomime comics, pantomime villains, they might share something of the enjoyment of the children.
Paramount Released September 19th
Peter Malone MSC is an Associate of the Australian Catholic Office for Film and Broadcasting.