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szdaily -> Culture -> 
Dora and the Lost City of Gold
    2020-09-30  08:53    Shenzhen Daily

Dora’s grown up a bit since her seemingly perennial childhood through eight seasons on TV beginning in 2000 and her briefer tween years starting in 2009, but the majority of the audience will remain kids for her big-screen debut in “Dora and the Lost City of Gold.”

At the beginning of the film, we find the 16-year-old Dora (Isabela Moner) living with her zoologist mom (Eva Longoria) and archeologist dad (Michael Pena) in a deep jungle home so luxurious and elaborate that it looks like something rich tourists would pay a few grand a night to stay in. Like Tarzan, Dora grew up in the jungle with animals as best friends but, unlike the fictional vine-swinger, she’s being sent to Los Angeles to study at Silverlake High.

Dora has relatives to stay with, including good-looking cousin and all-around too-cool-for-school Diego (Jeff Wahlberg). But she’s quickly deemed a weirdo, to Diego’s embarrassment, and piling on is the conceited, condescending Sammy (Madeleine Madden), an intimidator who does all she can to make the newcomer’s life miserable at school. The only guy who takes to her is ultimate nerd Randy (Nicholas Coombe), and it isn’t long before this ill-matched foursome finds itself transported from the Natural History Museum back to Dora’s parents’ place in Peru to renew the search for the titular destination.

Of course, a bad guy, Alejandro (Eugenio Derbez), worms his way into the mix, but by now it’s quite clear that the filmmakers never intend to try to present any real challenges or terrible enemies that would generate genuine suspense or dramatic excitement. In the action and suspense department, what director James Bobin delivers here feels more like 1950s kiddie television.

In essence, every dramatic goal is achieved far too easily, every opponent is ultimately made of straw. The characters are never truly challenged, as if the filmmakers are afraid that any credible danger might prove too frightening for the young audience.

What keeps things alive, up to a point, is the imperturbable attitude of the titular heroine, who is invested with try-and-stop-me spirit by Moner, who’s actually 18 and looks it. The same goes for Wahlberg, who’s 19. There’s a palpable gap you can’t help but notice between the essentially innocent, borderline-pubescent nature of the leading characters and the film itself, and the more confident and mature vibes emanating from the leading actors. The director seems to be trying to keep the hormones at bay, but there are some things you just can’t disguise, perhaps human nature first and foremost.

(SD-Agencies)

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