People tend to expect certain things from animated movies and when the film departs from them, it can either be wildly successful, like the Shrek movies, or absolutely bomb. Although this movie had a lot of things going for it, it was most certainly a dud with audiences. Kevin Kline and Kenneth Branagh voice Tulio and Miguel, a couple of con artists who wind up in the New World seeking the legendary city of El Dorado. It’s marvelous to see (well, technically hear) the two riffing off one another and Branagh, normally a serious Shakespearean actor, excels at comedy.
While the plot was interesting for adults, I think parents were put off by the pseudo-profanity (Holy ship!!!), actual nudity and implied sexual activity, not to mention the themes of human sacrifice and dark magic. The Spanish conquest of Central and South America isn’t exactly lighthearted material and there was even a Jaws moment that had me jumping out of my adult skin. There’s also the fact that the main characters are charlatans trying to defraud an entire culture out of a boatload of gold. The music and songs were excellent but while I can forgive the host of glaring historical inaccuracies in favor of telling a good story, this just didn’t have the spark of creativity and the softly sardonic but heartfelt vibe of other Dreamworks animated movies. My favorite bit is the song ‘El Dorado’ sung at the very beginning of the film. If only the rest of the movie had lived up to the impressive opener based on Mayan and Aztec art, this might rate more than a tepid two stars. – BETHANY
For more on The Road to El Dorado, swing by the Internet Movie Database
If you’d like to watch just the opener, you will have seen the best part of the movie:
Following the map. (The provenance of the map is never explained – if El Dorado is such a secret and no Europeans have ever been there before, how is there a map in the first place? Because the plot needed it, that’s why.)
Welcome to El Dorado, great and powerful gods! Chief Tannabok (Edward James Olmos) presents a whole lot of gold, which they evidently store on platters.
Rosie Perez as Chel, a strangely street-wise handmaiden. No, she doesn’t look like trouble at all and geez, that’s a seriously skimpy outfit!
Photos courtesy of DreamWorks Animation, DreamWorks SKG and Stardust Pictures (unless otherwise credited in clickable form)