Movie Review: Dora and the Lost City of Gold


The official movie poster for Dora and the Lost City of Gold.

When I think of Dora the Explorer, I think of a young cartoon girl with bangs, a backpack, a monkey named Boots and a fox who likes to swipe. I definitely wouldn’t picture a teenage girl struggling to fit in at her new high school. In my opinion, it would be extremely difficult to pull off a live-action remake of the iconic cartoon, but producers managed to surprise me with their ability to turn Dora the Explorer into a live-action film with Dora and the Lost City of Gold

In the film, Dora (Isabela Moner), lives with her archaeologist parents (Eva Longoria and Michael Peña) in the jungles of South America. Dora is an extremely positive and confident girl who loves to sing and hang out with her best friend, Boots the Monkey, just like in the cartoon. However, when Dora’s parents head out on an exploration to find the lost city of gold, Parpata, they leave her to live in the city with her cousin Diego (Jeff Wahlberg) who she hasn’t seen since she was a young child. Living in the jungle hasn’t given Dora the opportunity to meet many people or make a lot of friends, so high school is a big change. While in school, she meets the class president, Sammy (Madeleine Madden) and a nerd named Randy (Nicholas Coombe). Dora, Diego, Sammy and Randy are then whisked off back into the jungle to find Dora’s parents, who have vanished on their exploration. After returning to the jungle, Dora and the Lost City of Gold turns into a Goonies-like adventure, with the characters having to solve many “jungle puzzles” and booby traps to find Dora’s parents and Parpatas. The film reminded me a lot of the recent remake, Jumanji. Both movies are a story of four friends transported into the jungle, having to solve many puzzles and go through intense situations. In addition, in both films the characters all begin as high schoolers from different cliques but end as friends.

I went into Dora and the Lost City of Gold with a strong belief that I would not enjoy it at all. I grew up watching Dora, but having a completely different taste now than I had back then, I figured the movie would be too immature for my liking. After watching for a few minutes, I was pleasantly surprised that I was actually enjoying the movie. The creators stayed true to the original characters in the series, but also gave them traits to make them more humorous to viewers. The film is made for an older audience compared to its cartoon counterpart, so there is more mature humor that older viewers can laugh at. I also liked the fact that the creators played off of the odd aspects of the series. For example, Dora’s friends in the movie realize that it isn’t normal to be best friends with monkeys or own a never-ending, talking backpack. Still, the movie includes details from the original series, such as a focus on family and belonging.

One of the main things I disliked about the movie was that once the teens are in the jungle, the action becomes very predictable. After you’ve seen films like Goonies and Jumanji, you know exactly what the explorers will come across (for instance, a jungle puzzle), making the film very predictable. I wouldn’t say that the movie got boring but I never got to the point where I actually thought something bad would happen to any of the characters. I suppose that is as much as you can expect from Dora the Explorer though; everything will always “end happily ever after.”

If you’re a teen who grew up watching Dora and want to see what she is like as a teenager, I would definitely recommend Dora and the Lost City of Gold. It had its problems, but if you’re in the mood for a comedy and action film, I’d give it a shot. Just don’t expect it to blow you away.