Dora and the Lost City of Gold is the Dora The Explorer movie, and the character is a 7-year-old Latina girl, and she’s been 7 ever since the show began in 2000, so who better to play her than someone TEN years her senior. Yes, at the time of filming the actress was 17 years old, and she is Isabela Moner from Transformers: The Last Knight (where she was Izabella) and Sicario 2: Soldado, she was Isabel. So, in this one, she is Izzy Dora. Nah, I jest.
Well, in this film her character is actually six, turning 16, and the lead now calls herself Isabella Merced, for no apparent reason. Who knew this could get so complicated?
Still, at least we now know why Dora is the age she is, and you’re not left wondering why this young woman is in the role.
Going back to Sicario 2, she actually holds her own very well as she’s thrust into the situation, amongst everything that’s going on, whereas in Transformers 5, she started off as the plucky young girl who blew up a robot or two, and then expressed a desire to take them all on and FIGHT. then disappeared for almost an hour, and when she did come back onscreen, she just sat back in a government helicopter and let everyone else get on with the work.
Back to this film, though, and it does go back to when Dora is a child, accompanied by the her programme’s theme, plus a talking backpack at a map with a mouth. At that point, I checked my medication to make sure I hadn’t overdosed.
There’s also a fox called Swiper who swipes… but not in the Tinder way; and at one point he parodies Al Pacino in Scarface, stealing something and saying, “Say goodbye to your little friend!” That was a nice touch which will go over the heads of kids.
Since I’ve never seen the original cartoon, bar a bit of one episode, I’m presuming Dora talks to the camera, since she does that here at the start, leaving her parents compeltely befuddled. In this roles are Michael Peña – who’s still stealing a living in Hollywood, while Eva Longoria has long since left the Desperate Housewives set and settled into her ‘mumsy’ status.
Beyond that, they tell Dora how the plan for moving to the jungle is to find… yep, the lost city of gold – aka Parapata, which has more gold than Donald Trump, Richard Branson and Jeff Bezos combined. Probably. This isn’t meant to be a complex film, though.
Despite their house being huge, Dora and cousin Diego have to share a bedroom. Maybe this is down to the bedroom tax? That isn’t explained, but either way, you know what to do on December 12th when you go to the ballot box.
So, ten years on and, as Isabella Moner, she’s still talking to the camera.
Given that she’s lived in the jungle her whole life and is about to sample the big city for the first time, her Dad treats her like she’s incredibly slow on the uptake, even though she live-vlogs her adventures in the bush and no doubt uploads them to Youtube… because there’s nowhere else to upload it to, competition-wise. Hence, it does make you question why they haven’t gone viral and why no-one has heard of her later in the film. Maybe I’m thinking too deeply about all of this…
She’s definitely the archetypal ‘fish out of water’, since she’s far more effervescent than anyone in the real world who has spent years being beaten down as the weight of the world crushes their spirit. This leads to a film which is like a teenage Crocodile Dundee where she struggles to fit in whilst dealing with the problems everyone has about fitting in at high school, mixed with a teenage Indiana Jones.
A few random observations:
- Why is she going to school once she arrives in the city? Surely, she’d just go for the summer holiday? It’s not as if she’s enrolled and paid a ton of fees… unless that’s part of the Director’s Cut?
- However, never mind that because a situation soon occurs which takes her back to the jungle and there are some bad guys who want to capture Dora’s parents and so on. But help is at hand, because a friend of their parents, Alejandro (Eugenio Derbez) will attempt to help reunite them, and his truck full of supplies includes essentials such as… a Pitch Perfect Trilogy DVD.
- Dora lives in a world where you can leap too large a gap, then crash hard down to the ground… and still survive without a scratch.
- While at the school, she’s told to come to the school dance as their favourite star… so she comes as the sun.
- Swiper is voiced by Benicio Del Toro, so it reunites the two leads from the definitely kid-unfriendly Sicario 2: Soldado.
- One of the kids she ends up with, Randy (Nicholas Coombe), is a geek who knows about the Atari 2600 title Pitfall and how it’s the best videogame ever. He knows the score!
Overall, Dora and the Lost City of Gold is quite a funny adventure movie, which always keeps the pace up, and a damn sight butter as a jungle adventure than 2018’s Tomb Raider reboot. It’s also a film which families can enjoy without seeing anything that’ll cause offence. I presume (without checking) that it’s a PG because the characters put themselves in life-threatening situations, but at no times does anyone have a potty mouth.
Will there be a sequel? The budget for there was a modest $49m, and a film needs to take at least 2-3 times its budget to clear a profit after marketing is taken into account. Given that the worldwide box office gross on this is $119m… it’s unlikely. Perhaps, had it taken around $400m, we could’ve been looking at a sequel for sure.
Then again, it could be one of those films which makes a ton of cash in the home market, so you never know, but I’d still bet on a ‘no’. Naturally, this film does hint at a potential sequel, though, as they’d have to hedge their bets.
There’s kind-of a mid- and post credits scene in this:
The film would’ve been shown at 1.85:1 in the cinema, but the Blu-ray transfer is slightly more open at 1.78:1, i.e. 16:9. I do hope it hasn’t been cropped. There’s great sound all around, such as when the Scooby Doo gang end up underwater when they’re trapped, and everything’s all… watery all around them.
The extras aren’t plentiful, but they are as follows:
- Bloopers (2:12): Featuring all the cast.
- Deleted and Extended Scenes (12:35): 11 of them, here. There’s nothing that needs desperately to go back into the film, but they’re worth watching anyway. And bear in mind, that none of these feature finished CGI, so for the scene where Dora has a boa constrictor around her neck, it’s just a blue stand-in, of sorts, and covered in markers.
- All About Dora (8:40): A behind the scenes pieces with cast & crew interviews mixed in with clips from the film.
- Can You Say Peculia? (4:33): A piece which mostly focuses on Eugenio Derbez, for some reason.
- Dora In Flower Vision (4:16): Going through the flower field and the animation that ensues.
- Dora’s Jungle House (3:45): Isabela Moner talks us on a tour of that particular set.
- Audio Description: Does exactly what it says on the tin.
The disc I was sent for a review is, I presume the final product, but it’s very odd in that it plays three trailers before the film in random order and it’s not always easy to skip them.
The menu features a repetitive piece of music from the theme, subtitles are in several languages listed below, and there are a rather odd 19 chapters.
Running time: 103 minutes
Released: December 9th 2019
Picture: 1080p High Definition
Sound: DTS 5.1 HD-MA
Languages: Dolby Atmos (English), Dolby Digital 5.1 (Spanish, French Canadian, Japanese, Thai)
Subtitles: English SDH, Bahasa Malaysia, Cantonese, Spanish, French Canadian, Hindi, Japanese, Korean, Mandarin, Thai
Widescreen: 1.78:1 (ARRIRAW (4.5K) (3.4K))
Disc Format: BD50
Director: James Bobin
Producer: Kristin Burr
Screenplay: Nicholas Stoller, Matthew Robinson
Story: Tom Wheeler, Nicholas Stoller
Series creators: Chris Gifford, Valerie Walsh, Eric Weiner
Music: John Debney, Germaine Franco
Dora: Isabela Moner
Diego: Jeff Wahlberg
Sammy: Madeleine Madden
Randy: Nicholas Coombe
Swiper: Benicio Del Toro
Elena: Eva Longoria
Cole: Michael Peña
Boots (voice): Danny Trejo
Alejandro: Eugenio Derbez
Old Woman: Isela Vega
Kawillaka: Q’orianka Kilcher
Dora (6 years): Madelyn Miranda
Diego (6 years): Malachi Barton
Nico: Joey Vieira
Christina X: Natasa Ristic
Viper: Christopher Kirby
Powell: Temuera Morrison
Backpack (voice): Sasha Toro
Map (voice): Marc Weiner
Sabrina: Pia Miller
Abuelita Valerie: Adriana Barraza
Animal Vocalizations (voice): Dee Bradley Baker
Reviewer of movies, videogames and music since 1994. Aortic valve operation survivor from the same year. Running DVDfever.co.uk since 2000. Nobel Peace Prize winner 2021.