As a new non-Disney animated film debuts I always find myself asking will we ever have one that can match Disney’s musical timing and humorous tone?
“The Road to El Dorado” is one of those that come really close to being as brilliant as Disney.
The films title talks about a path that leads to the mysterious Mayan “City of Gold”. This myth has been passed down for hundreds of years.
In the 1500’s a lot of Spanish conquistadors went to the New World in search of this city after it seemed to be impossible to find the “Fountain of Youth”, the other mythical discovery. This legend was screaming to be a fantasy film.
In the DreamWorks’ interpretation of this legend, we follow the misadventures of two con-artists (voiced by Kenneth Branagh and Kevin Kline) who accidentally win a treasure map in a craps game.
When the game goes sour, the cons hide out in some barrels and end up on a boat bound for the New World.
To their bad luck the boat happens to be captained by the most famous of the Spanish conquistadors, Cortez.
Thrown in the depths of the ship by Cortez, our two heroes plan their escape. Without spoiling anymore of the film, the two end up in the New World to follow their map.
The DreamWorks animators deliver lush rich scenery and delightful characters. These characters and scenery were a lot like the brilliance found in Disney’s “Jungle Book” and last year’s amazing “Tarzan”.
If you remember back to “Prince of Egypt” we had that magnificent look and the celebrity voices but no real memorable relationships.
The intricate relationships between the characters in this film is one more step ahead forward DreamWorks.
But what the film lacked was a real memorable song. The team of Elton John and Tim Rice, who dreamed up the brilliant soundtrack of the “Lion King”, really never deliver a solid song that your kids will be singing weeks after the film.
The songs here really have no heart but instead just play during some of the weaker scenes of the film. Now all they have to do is deliver musical songs and a musical score we will want to listen to after the film closes.
Disney still reigns supreme as head animation studio. But watch out Mickey, DreamWorks is one step behind.
(4 out of 5)
So Says the Soothsayer.