Intrepid heroine sparkles in entertaining Disney drama

Intrepid heroine sparkles in entertaining Disney drama Dora (Isabela Moner) with Boots, her monkey.
Dora and the Lost City of Gold (PG)


Hollywood ‘girlpower’ gets another airing in this high energy venture which sees the title character showing the menfolk of the piece a thing or three about survival as she searches for her parents (Michael Pena and Eva Longoria) in a rain forest.

Adapted from Dora the Explorer, the animated TV series younger viewers will be familiar with  – it reverts briefly to this for an amusing hallucinogenic scene in the middle – it has Dora (Isabela Moner)  bonding with her cousin Diego in the opening jungle scenes. Then we fast forward 10 years.

She tries to fit into High School after leaving the jungle but it isn’t a good idea. She gets on better with animals than people.

Thrills await. She’s kidnapped by mercenaries along with some of her classmates. Then they escape. They’re nerve cases on the run in the jungle but Dora is in her comfort zone there. She leads them to the eponymous city populated by a lost Inca civilisation.

With her infectiously attractive good humour and her infectiously attractive monkey (Boots, the film’s main charmer) Dora solves every jungle puzzle put to her. You know it’s only going to be a matter of time before she outwits the mercenaries and shows the world that exploring beats treasure hunting hands down.

Her ‘know it all’ personality is both annoying and funny. She rescues herself and her motley crew of friends as they go from various frying pans into various fires. They dodge arrows, unlock secret codes and learn from Dora how best to avoid meeting a sticky end in a pit of quicksand.

Semi-hysterical nerds Randy (Nicholas Coombe) and Sammy (Madeleine Madden) try to talk themselves out of their fears but they’re not fooling anyone. We know a life-threatening danger awaits them around the corner every time they express the slightest smidgeon of complacency.

They spend most of their time panicking – in a controlled way. Then Sammy gets attracted to Diego (Jeff Wahlberg).

The characters aren’t wildly original. We’ve seen most of the plot devices many times before too. It’s the film’s effervescent pace that makes it all work.

With a heady mixture of Indiana Jones and Harry Potter, director James Bobin keeps things rolling along jauntily. He uses computer-generated special effects for Boots and a mischievous fox, Swiper. (Benicio del Toro does the voice.) Both will entertain kids hugely.

There’s fun for all the family in this rip-roaring yarn which has a twist two-thirds of the way in. One of the characters (I won’t say who) goes from saviour to villain.

The film is basically a toe-dipping exercise on the part of Disney to see if audiences weaned on the animated Dora will take to her in her live action guise. Moner’s plea in this regard becomes blatant when she speaks to camera. There’s even a hint of a sequel. Will it happen? It’s up to you, audiences.

Good ***