The Road to El Dorado is a musical adventure that attempts to be another Tarzan or Prince of Egypt, with some good music, exciting action, and some more mature content than most cartoons, but only halfway succeeds. It follows Tarzan’s example in having most of the Elton John/Tim Rice songs being sung by a singing narrator and only one number actually sung by the characters. While these songs are fun and enjoyable, they all end up sounding similar and don’t have the distinct memorableness of the artists’ work in The Lion King. Still, they clarify the mood for many scenes and complement the lively and colorful animation, which is almost as good as in the much more acclaimed The Prince of Egypt. The real pleasure of the film is in the two leads. Kenneth Branagh as Miguel and Kevin Kline as Tulio play off each other so well and their voices and unique inflections so fit their characters that the movie would suffer without them. They make some already humorous lines hilarious and turn the film into a “Road” movie worthy of Bob Hope and Bing Crosby’s classics.
While many reviewers objected to the weak plot and secondary characters, I take issue with its rewriting of history. The film presents the natives of El Dorado, who I can only assume are Aztecs, as peace-loving folk under the tyranny of a single bloodthirsty high priest. It lightly references the ritual killings of thousands of innocents and totally ignores the hostile lifestyle of the real Aztecs, who actively captured victims from neighboring areas for their sacrifices. Not to mention, there are some obvious flaws, such as Chel’s New York-ish accent, the isolated El Doradoans somehow speaking the same language as the visiting Spaniards, or the existence of a map to a legendary city that has supposedly never been discovered. Despite these weaknesses, The Road to El Dorado is another fun family film that, like many of the animated movies on the list lately, deserved a better box office turnout than it received.
Best line: (Tulio to Miguel) “The little voice, remember? Just imagine for a moment that you have one. Now, what would it be saying about Chel?” (Miguel) “Um…” [he purrs romantically]
VC’s best line: (Tulio) “Your horse bit me in the butt!” (said as only Kevin Kline could say it)Artistry: 4 Characters/Actors: 6 Entertainment: 6 Visual Effects: 6 Originality: 5 Watchability: 5 Other (aforementioned flaws): -2 TOTAL: 30 out of 60
Tomorrow: #322: Ice Age
© 2014 S. G. Liput