Let’s all say hola to the live action adaptation of Nickelodeon’s Dora the Explorer. This film will have you cheerily saying hello and possibly, more please (mas por favor) thanks to a lively story with a first-rate performance from Isabela Moner.

Dora and the Lost City of Gold (2019) – source: Paramount Pictures

Dora (Moner) has grown up with two professors as parents and sees the jungle as her home, so when she’s 16 and sent to America to live like an average schoolkid, it’s only natural for her to feel like a fish out of water. A chance kidnapping on a museum tour sees Dora, her cousin Diego (Jeff Wahlberg) and two classmates wind up in Peru, hoping to find her missing parents and Parapata—a fabled city of golden treasure.

Aside from the online Funny or Die short starring Ariel Winter, the animated educational TV show has not been serviced with the live-action touch and perhaps you’d think, why would it need it? But in all honesty, the treatment of a now teenage Dora exploring a concrete jungle is delightfully handled. The moment she steps off the plane and into L.A. flawlessly shows off her incessant joyful mood and her eventual vulnerability, in finding a busier place with constant social cues, more lonely than her jungle roots.

At first, it looks like this film is going to be every level of bad. The kiddy Dora and Diego are not great, a rave impression from Michael Pena is prolonged to the point of being certified dead and the initial glance of CG Boots and Swiper is off-putting and glaringly cheap but after a while their imagery fits into the bright and breezy vision of the story, so come Dora and co.’s trek for a city of gold, you’ll be right alongside them immersed into the tale without realizing it.

Dora and the Lost City of Gold (2019) – source: Paramount Pictures

Sure the narrative and some plot points are crazily predictable and school friend Randy has a weird quirk of trying hard to start up some connection between Dora and himself but aside from this and a very repetitive usage of nearly perishing and being saved at the last second, this movie is mucho fun and features some deliciosa 4th wall breaking to an imaginary audience.

Dora and the Lost City of Gold is a family catered adventure that does exactly what the likes of 2018’s Tomb Raider should have done to prevent its gritty onset of boredom. The puzzles and traps throughout Dora’s journey are wickedly fun and make everything feel like a solidly crafted Indiana Jones story remodeled for modern times and beating with a youthful heart.

Don’t be a Moner, Isabella is a great Dora – Dora and the Lost City of Gold (2019) – source: Paramount Pictures

Isabela Moner is literally the perfect Dora, grown up 10 years but still innocently oblivious to the ways of the world outside lush green trees. Dora, surname Explorer, is a gutsy young lass with extensive smarts which Moner brilliantly portrays. There’s a relentless pep in her step which is infectious and together with the colors on screen you’ll be swiped away to a radiant world of joy.

The backpack wearing chica has plenty of spirit and strength to more than warrant her big screen arrival and even if some of it is run of the mill, Dora and the Lost City of Gold is as resolutely good-natured as Dora herself, enough that I truthfully can say I’d watch a sequel if it were to be made.


Published by Troy Balmayer

Movies are Troy's life. If he's not watching or reviewing films then he's trying/failing to write screenplays and come up with ideas for his own stories. He studied Drama but wish he'd carried on with Film, luckily Troy kind of rectified this oversight when he got accepted into the New York Film Academy in 2015. Any and all other musings from him can be found on his Twitter: @TBTheReviewClub

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