Dora and The Lost City of Gold (2019)

Dora and the Lost City of Gold poster.jpgDirector: James Bobin
Running Time: 102 Minutes
Starring: Isabela Moner, Eugenio Derbez, Michael Peña, Eva Longoria, Jeff Wahlberg, Nicholas Coombe, Madeleine Madden, Temuera Morrison, Adriana Barraza, Pia Miller, Madelyn Miranda, Malachi Barton

From the opening moments, it's clear what the intent is behind James Bobin's film. The beginning sees a live action recreation of the original Dora The Explorer opening, complete with theme song, before revealing it to be the imagination of a 6 year old girl and her cousin. The screenplay by Nicholas Stoller and Matthew Robinson respects the elements which made the series become such a hit, while playing with them in such a witty way.

Having spent most of her life exploring the jungle, Dora (Isabela Moner) must cope with navigating the perilous setting that is High School. After a trip to the museum sees her kidnapped along with her cousin Diego (Jeff Wahlberg) and fellow classmates, they must find their way to Dora's parents, in order to get home safely, and discover a long-lost city.

One things is for sure, this film never gets dull. The witty script constantly brings the humour, even if some of the gags are played very over the top. For the most part, it's clear the creative team were having a ball with making this, as Dora sings about pooping, and we even get an utterly bonkers trip, where Dora and Diego imagine themselves animated like the original TV show. It's an assuredly unique feature among this summers releases.

Where the script succeeds is getting us to care for the characters, with each of Dora's group feeling like a real person in their own way. The titular heroine, Dora, is adjusting to her new surroundings, and still perseveres with a beaming smile and a friendly attitude to everyone. She knows how difficult it all is being in high school, but would rather be herself than adjust to be something she isn't, and Isabela Moner makes every facet of her character utterly believable. The same can't be said of her cousin Diego, who puts on a persona to make high school easier for himself, but feels the distance with the cousin who was his childhood best friend. Jeff Wahlberg conveys this well, but it's a shame his romantic subplot feels forced, when Madeleine Madden is fantastic in playing classmate Sammy. Nicholas Coombe rounds off the teenage cast, feeling like a lovable addition who never outstays his welcome.

Eugenio Derbez helps out Dora on her adventure, proving as helpful as he is comedically hapless, while Eva Longoria and Michael Peña shine whenever they appear as Dora's parents. Benicio del Toro provides the voice for Swiper the Fox, one of the most consistently hilarious parts of the film, but it can feel at odds with the initial idea of it all being in a young Dora's head. Danny Trejo doesn't get much time for his role, yet is utterly brilliant for every second we get to experience him. But, it must be said, there's one part which you'd struggle to not see coming, and still gets presented as a surprise long after viewers would have figured it out.

Dora and the Lost City of Gold works as great introductory adventure film for children, while having much bonkers fun that adults can enjoy. Come for the 2000s nostalgia, stay for warding off Swiper from Swiping.