Sunday, November 3, 2013

The Road to El Dorado (Eric Bergeron and Will Fin, 2000) Review

Have you noticed that people like to use the word "under-rated" even when a film statistically isn't under-rated? The misusing of the word is what I'm getting at. I will admit I have some films I like that are under-rated (based on imdb and Rotten Tomatoes). This also marks my first traditional animated Dreamworks film review which means that there may be some good films on the horizon like The Prince of Egypt but let's take a look at the only Dreamworks film to never make a profit...The Road to El Dorado.

In 1519 Spain, two swindlers called Miguel (Kenneth Branagh) and Tulio (Kevin Kline) cheat their way through a game of dice and end up wining a map leading to the fabled city of gold, El Dorado. After being found out, the two find themselves on the ship of Cortez (Jim Cummings) who decides to make them slaves on their voyage to Cuba. Miguel and Tulio break out and find themselves on an desert island where they find El Dorado itself. Upon arriving, they are thought to be gods by the citizens and keep up the facade to steal their gold and pull off the biggest scam in history.

Why must we live in a world where awful films like Shark Tale made a profit and yet this film didn't. Why do I say this. Because I think that this is one hell of a film. The film lends itself to traditional animation in order to capture the cartooney yet realistic style that fits the film so well. The idea behind the film was to make an animated film that didn't focus on a hero and instead put sidekick-esque characters in the leading role and it makes for two very likable and memorable protagonists. Kenneth Branagh and Kevin Kline share such a strong chemistry like that of John Goodman and Billy Crystal in Monsters Inc. and make Miguel and Tulio that much better characters. Even the villain, Tzekel-Kan, manages to escape being generic and with Armand Assante hamming up the performance. 

Arguably the film's strongest aspect is the music. This was to be expected considering that it's provided by the same team behind The Lion King's legendary soundtrack. Is it on the same level? If it isn't, it's pretty damn close. The main theme starts the film off with a magnificent and triumphant bang with other songs doing what songs in films SHOULD do, convey the emotions of the characters like 'Friends Never Say Goodbye' does. While it is a little bit odd that the characters sing one song themselves and leave the rest up to Elton John's non-diegetic songs but 'It's Tough To Be God' is so damn catchy that it's easy to forgive. Even the background music is magnificent with the talented duo of Hans Zimmer and John Powell.

It really saddens me that The Road to El Dorado was a flop because I would've loved to see more from Miguel and Tulio (well, as long as Kenneth Branagh and Kevin Kline stayed on board). It puzzles me as to why is was a flop or why it's currently under 50% on Rotten Tomatoes (THAT really perplexes me). With very memorable and likable character accompanied by top notch voice acting, an absolutely amazing soundtrack (both vocal and background) and beautiful animation (with maybe one or two moments of CGI that sticks out). The Road to El Dorado is one of the many reasons why I miss traditionally animated films but it's sure as hell better than most animated films in recent history.

Such a magnificent film and easily one of Dreamworks best. Why it flopped...I have absolutely no idea.

1 comment:

  1. Me too, I love traditional animation and this one that I fondly remember. Its zany and essentially a good obscure DreamWorks movie. Could it had more profit on the box office and not be on the competition with Disney.