[Early Review] Dora and the Lost City of Gold (2019)

or “Dora Jones and the Last Crusade”

Director: James Bobin

Cast: Isabella Moner, Eugenio Derbez, Michael Peña, Eva Longoria, Danny Trejo

Screenplay: Matthew Robinson, Nicholas Stoller

102 mins. Rated PG for action and some mild impolite humor.

 

Yes, I braved the long lines at an early screening and sat in front of a kid who kept kicking my seat, but I did it. I saw Dora and the Lost City of Gold. I’m not really sure what I expected going into it. I mostly like James Bobin (The Muppets, Alice Through the Looking Glass) as a director. I’ve really enjoyed actress Isabella Moner’s (Transformers: The Last Knight, Instant Family) work as she develops her skills. But Dora? A live-action Dora? How would that even work? Upon seeing the film, I can honestly say I’m still not sure how it works.

Dora has spent her whole life in the jungle with her parents and her monkey Boots, exploring and adventuring and learning. But when she becomes a teenager, her parents want her to experience normal life in a normal school with other kids while they adventure out to find Parapata, the Lost City of Gold, a quest they have spent years trying to complete. They send her to stay with her cousin Diego. Dora has trouble making friends until a school field trip ends with her, Diego, and a few other students getting kidnapped by treasure hunters who want to use her to find Parapata. The students team up with a professor who knows Dora’s parents, Alejandro (Eugenio Derbez, Instructions Not Included, Overboard), to escape the treasure hunters and find the Lost City of Gold first.

The way the film starts, I expected it to be a very self-aware comedic approach to the silliness of the property without completely lampooning it, much in the same way Land of the Lost and 21 Jump Street went about adapting their properties. Sadly, most of that attitude and humor are swept away early on in the film and it becomes a very simple adventure movie that borrows 98% of its journey from Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. Seriously, you can nail down large chunks of the plot and characters as being ripped from the Last Crusade. I kept waiting for one of the characters to exclaim “No ticket.”

Isabella Moner is a fabulous actress, and I think she understood what this version of Dora the Explorer needed to be. I think she’s someone who we will be talking about a lot more in years to come. I liked what she did in the Transformers film she was in, even if she didn’t have much to do, and I really liked her performance in Instant Family.

Director James Bobin should have steered more into a tone like The Muppets, but I don’t think he achieved it here, sticking too far into the family-friendly tone and losing some of the flavor that I think he’s capable of hitting. As the film went on (and it went on about 20 minutes too long), I found it becoming far too formulaic and far less fun as it hit all the necessary bits required in an adventure movie. The students that join her and Diego on the adventure could have been eliminated because they provide virtually nothing to the film.

Dora and the Lost City of Gold has some fun elements to it. It isn’t the dumpster fire that one might expect it to be. It makes fun of itself at times and if I had my niece or nephews ask me to watch it, I wouldn’t be upset. It’s just that the film could have been so much more. There’s an aspect of missed potential to it when you see the way Isabella Moner has fun with the character and some of the inherently silly attitude is at times. It’s a fine movie, but it could have been a great one.

 

2.5/5

-Kyle A. Goethe

Benicio del Toro is Swiper in Dora the Explorer Movie

It seems like the Dora the Explorer film news is just getting stranger. Now, veteran actor Benicio del Toro has signed on to voice Swiper the Fox in the live-action adaptation of the hit cartoon series. The movie, which stars Isabella Moner of Transformers: The Last Knight fame, has wrapped production but Swiper is expected to be all CGI.

Dora the Explorer also has Michael Pena and Eva Longoria in its cast and is directed by James Bobin from a screenplay by Nicholas Stoller. Bobin directed The Muppets and Alice Through the Looking Glass for Disney, while Stoller wrote the screenplay for the former. The film is expected to be released August 2, 2019.

Now, I should preface by saying I’ve never seen a single episode of Dora the Explorer, though I understand the structure and framework of the show, but the more talent joining up with the film is only a good sign. I’m a fan of Bobin and Stoller’s work behind the camera and the great cast in front of it only sounds better with del Toro’s addition.

From what I understand, Swiper is the villain of the film so having a villainous voice could work. What’s concerning me, though, is that this film is sounding more and more Bay-ed as we go on. There was a now-debunked rumor that Michael Bay was heavily involved in production here just like with his Transformers and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, and both of those franchises are not favoring too well at the moment (though Bumblebee may change that for the Transformers). All I’m saying is that Paramount Pictures is pushing this movie down a strange avenue.

Hopefully, I’m wrong, and the addition of del Toro still sends good vibes to the Dora the Explorer movie. I’m waiting on the first trailer for a better indicator of where we stand with this one, so I’ll keep you posted.

But what do you think? Is Benicio del Toro the right choice to voice Swiper? Where do you stand on the live-action Dora the Explorer movie? Let me know/Drop a comment below!

 

-Kyle A. Goethe

 

 

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Thor: Ragnarok (2017)

Director: Taika Waititi

Cast: Chris Hemsworth, Tom Hiddleston, Cate Blanchett, Idris Elba, Jeff Goldblum, Tessa Thompson, Karl Urban, Mark Ruffalo, Anthony Hopkins

Screenplay: Eric Pearson, Craig Kyle, Christopher Yost

130 mins. Rated PG-13 for intense sequences of sci-fi violence and action, and brief suggestive material.

IMDb Top 250: #207 (as of 12/22/2017)

 

I think I was one of the few people in the world who wasn’t worried a bit about Thor: Ragnarok. I just had a good feeling about the whole production, and considering that the original Thor is my favorite MCU film to date, I overall didn’t worry in the slightest. So I guess it comes down to it. Was I right not to worry?

Things haven’t been going well for Thor (Chris Hemsworth, Snow White and the Huntsman, Star Trek) lately. His brother Loki (Tom Hiddleston, Kong: Skull Island, TV’s The Night Manager) is believed dead. His father Odin (Anthony Hopkins, The Silence of the Lambs, Transformers: The Last Knight) has seemingly gone off the deep end. But when Thor discovers that he has a sister, Hela (Cate Blanchett, Blue Jasmine, How to Train Your Dragon 2), who has broken free of her captivity, he finds himself zipped across the galaxy to a strange planet where he must fight for his life against intergalactic gladiators to appease the Grandmaster (Jeff Goldblum, The Grand Budapest Hotel, The Lost World: Jurassic Park). Thor must band together with a ragtag group of friends and old foes to get back to Asgard and prevent Hela from unleashing Ragnarok, the Norse Armageddon.

I wanted to try and avoid some spoilers with Thor: Ragnarok, but they are inherently in the film’s plot. That being said, Ragnarok is by far the most unique MCU film to date and most definitely the best one of 2017. Bringing on Director Taika Waititi (What We Do in the Shadows, Hunt for the Wilderpeople) was an absolutely inspired choice, one that set up this installment for success from the very beginning. It is the kind of space film that deserves the term “rollicking.”

As always, Hemsworth and Hiddleston have excellent chemistry, but it is the addition of all the new characters like Goldblum’s Grandmaster, Tessa Thompson (Creed, Dear White People) as the Valkyrie, Karl Urban (The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers, Pete’s Dragon) as Skurge, Hela’s commander, and Waititi himself as the alien Korg that make the experience as tremendous as it is.

Thinking about faults in the film, I didn’t feel an overwhelming sense of concern about Ragnarok at all through the film. Sure, it’s the Flash Gordon of the MCU but I wasn’t really concerned for any of the players. Also, classic characters like the Warriors Three are tossed aside and mishandled. As for Lady Sif, she is nowhere to be found, and I think the film suffers by not addressing it.

Treating Thor: Ragnarok as a space road trip movie and teaming up Thor with the Incredible Hulk (Mark Ruffalo, Spotlight, Now You See Me 2) is the crowning achievement of the film, and being the third in a tremendous group of 2017 MCU films only steepens excitement for where this franchise is going as a whole. Ragnarok falters a bit when addressing the overall momentum of the franchise but it stands by itself as a singularly enjoyable experience that rivals that of the first Thor film for entirely different reasons. It’s my favorite superhero film of the year.

 

4.5/5

-Kyle A. Goethe

 

 

For my review of Jon Favreau’s Iron Man, click here.

For my review of Louis Leterrier’s The Incredible Hulk, click here.

For my review of Jon Favreau’s Iron Man 2, click here.

For my review of Anthony & Joe Russo’s Captain America: The Winter Soldier, click here.

For my review of James Gunn’s Guardians of the Galaxy, click here.

For my review of Joss Whedon’s Avengers: Age of Ultron, click here.

For my review of Anthony & Joe Russo’s Captain America: Civil War, click here.

For my review of James Gunn’s Guardians of the Galaxy vol. 2, click here.

For my review of Jon Watts’ Spider-Man: Homecoming, click here.

For my review of Taika Waititi’s What We Do in the Shadows, click here.

 

For more Almighty Goatman,

[Editorial] Yes, I’ve Seen Footage from Transformers: The Last Knight

Hey everyone, I thought I would share some takeaways from a recent screening I attended in which Transformers: The Last Knight footage was revealed. I should note that we were told early on that some of the footage was incomplete, but overall, I got the sense that most of it was.

The footage started with an introduction from director Michael Bay who walked the audience through the process of creating and filming with IMAX 3D cameras, and he informed us that this film was the first to be entirely shot in IMAX 3D.

We are then presented with what I expect to be the opening, involving King Arthur battling a Cybertronian dragon and a major battle in the past.

We also see the introduction of Izabella and her Autobot friend Sqweeks as well as Canopy, the garbage-Autobot revealed in promotional material. Canopy seems like a tremendously stupid idea, but I liked what I saw from Izabella and Sqweeks.

We are reintroduced to Cade Yeager (played by Mark Wahlberg), who returns from Transformers: Age of Extinction, who has now taken up residence at a junkyard with Bumblebee and Grimlock, the Dinobot recently introduced in the previous installment. Grimlock seems to be taking on the personality of a pet dog, which I thought was kind of funny, but I also imagine that it won’t make the fanbase too happy.

We also got our first look at Anthony Hopkins’ character as he is the one who sets Cade on his quest. He also has some fun rapport with his Autobot caretaker which I though was pretty good.

All in all, there weren’t a whole lot of surprises in the viewing, but at least I didn’t have a whole lot of groans. The movie looks like standard Transformers fare, but at least it has a new writing team after the writer’s room created 14-plus Transformers films over a year ago. Let’s just hope Michael Bay didn’t inject too much bayhem here.

Are you excited for Transformers: The Last Knight? What’s your favorite installment of the franchise? Let me know/Drop a comment below!

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