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Animation is coming of age, and after seeing Dreamwork's Road To El Dorado, you might even argue it has reached puberty.
Swashbuckling buddies Tulio (Kevin Kline) and Miguel (Kenneth Branagh) are small time con men in 16th century Spain. After winning a map pointing to the lost city of El Dorado, they are certain they have found the road to riches. The journey gets off to a rocky start when they find themselves locked in the brig of a ship under Spanish explorer Cortes' command. Enlisting the help of a rather clever war-horse, and after a series of amazing coincidences, the pair stumbles into El Dorado.
Here they are surrounded, not only by gold, but also worshipping natives who mistake these two white men on a horse for gods whose arrival has been foretold in their native history. But one young girl, Chel (Rosie Perez) doesn't buy into the god theory. Planning on leaving El Dorado anyway, she wants in on the action and offers to help the boys with their un-godly protocol for a portion of the gold. Tulio is quite taken by her shapely barely clad figure, while Miguel finds himself beguiled by the beautiful city. Thus distracted, our two con men are ill equipped to notice the encroaching dangers.
This film, a likely magnet for young audiences, combines great music from Elton John with incredible animation where flowing waterfalls and lush topical surroundings look startlingly real. Visually, it represents the leading edge of what animation is capable of. However, the story resorts to clich0xE9 elements, such as the violence dished out by a huge monster controlled through the physic powers of a wicked native priest.
Perhaps the movie's biggest surprise is a scene normally considered too mature for this genre, between Tulio and Chel (the sensuous sidekick who is willing to enter into a physical relationship for monetary gain). Although sexual actions on-screen are limited, parents won't be fooled by the fade to black. As for growing up, heroes who lie, cheat, and steal are poor role models, making the Road to El Dorado a bumpy ride.
The Road To El Dorado is rated PG: for mild thematic material and language.
Cast: Kevin Kline, Kenneth Branagh
Studio: 2000 Dreamworks SKG