Swiper No Swiping
Dora and the Lost City of Gold feels like a niche film for a very specific audience. If you’re part of that audience, this is likely to be a wildly entertaining and hilarious family adventure. What it does, it does incredibly well with plenty of in-jokes from the cartoon and a handful of well written, goofy jokes that help keep the tone suitably light and adventurous. However, the lack of explanation around key Dora the Explorer concepts like the map and Swiper, along with very basic character arcs make this a film designed specifically for families and children who have grown up with Dora, rather than the average movie-goer.
Beginning with a brief prologue including Dora and cousin Diego, the film skips forward in time as we see Dora separated from her cousin where he leaves the rainforest and heads off for the concrete jungle in Los Angeles. Growing into an adventurous but naive young woman, Dora is taken away from the rainforest at the request of her parents to stay with cousin Diego, who’s very much acclimatized to the harsh realities of the real world.
Dressed in bright, vibrant colours, our naive young explorer finds herself struggling to adapt to this harsh, new world before being thrown back into the jungle again to save her parents from a greater threat that appears. From here the film sees Dora and a handful of misfits band together to try and save Dora’s parents, all whilst navigating treacherous traps, quicksand and a number of other nasty additions to the jungle.
Dora and the Lost City of Gold reminds me of old family-orientated adventure films like Flubber, Jumanji and Small Soldiers. The concepts may be different but that cheesy style combined with self-aware comedy and basic characterisation shine through and give the film some depth and personality. Dora settles into its groove early on and throughout the film, the pacing is perfectly poised between fast action pieces and slower, comedic segments. The balance is handled really well here and throughout this 100 minute film, Dora never feels like it drags on unnecessarily.
If you’ve grown up with kids obsessed with Dora the Explorer, Nickelodeon’s latest animated adaptation is for you. Instead of trying to appeal to everyone and failing spectacularly, Dora defiantly sticks to its target market and is all the stronger for it. It’s a classic, fun-filled family adventure with plenty of goofy jokes and well-written action pieces to keep things interesting. It’s certainly not for everyone and at times the special effects do feel cheaper than they perhaps should for the big screen. However, there’s enough jokes and subtle nods toward the source material here to make this the perfect example of how to adapt an animated children’s show whilst keeping the integrity and spirit of the original in check. Parents and kids will certainly love this but perhaps everyone else may not take to it quite so fondly.