Dora the Explorer has been a hugely popular kids show throughout the 2000s. Now it’s been turned into a feature length live action film starring Isabela Moner, of Sicario 2 and Transformers: The Last Knight fame in the titular role.
Dora and the Lost City of Gold follows on a number of years after the timeframe of the tv show, with Dora now a teen. After a discovery sends her explorer parents deeper into the jungle Dora is sent to live with her cousin Diego in Los Angeles. We are introduced to a number of other characters from Dora and Diego’s high school as Dora finds it hard to adjust, with the principal ones being the nerdy loner Randy and the over achieving Sammy. During a school trip to a museum, the four of them are kidnapped by a group of mercenaries and forced to follow Dora’s parents in their quest to find the lost Inca city of Parapata.
Dora is clearly aimed at those who were young enough to have watched the show towards the tail end of it’s main run, and are now around 10 or so, with a lot of the humour maybe going a little too much over younger children’s heads. Thankfully there are also plenty of moments for adults, particularly any of the scenes with Michael Peña as Dora’s father, who proves his incredible comic abilities every time he’s on screen. Isabela Moner though is the real star of the film, and she does a great job in the titular role, grounding this story of a child explorer in the real world with her performance and charm to make what could be a grating character likeable.
The story beats are rarely shocking, but it is hard to say whether that will be the case for younger viewers. Moments that seem predictable to older viewers may well be great twists for those who are in the target age range, given that they’re less likely to be familiar with a lot of film tropes. There are some aspects of the film that make almost no sense, with one in particular coming at the climax of the film. There is also the sometimes questionable effects used on Boots the Monkey and Swiper the Fox, which can be solid, but often really stand out as poor.
As a family adventure Dora and the Lost City of Gold does a really good job. It may be a little inaccessible for younger viewers who have never seen the original show, but for those who have it is a fun adventure, with a compelling lead performance. For parents or older viewers whilst the film isn’t in the class of Disney or Pixar in its ability to appeal to everyone, it is nice to know that there are some good moments in there for you.