Dreamworks Animated Movies 3 – The Road To El Dorado

Early on, DreamWorks proved they were willing to take risks with their animated movies. Their first release (Antz), while conceived long before A Bug’s Life (as early as the late 80’s), risked a very public feud between them and Pixar. Their second one, The Prince of Egypt, was a relatively high budget animated epic religious film. That was released at a time where most religious movies were low budget cheese fests or animated short films aimed squarely at little kids. For their third movie, they released their first bomb.

The Road To El Dorado earned $76 million on a $95 million budget when it released in May of 2000. Its critical response was also fairly mixed, with a 48% on Rotten Tomatoes and an average score of 5.5/10. The general consensus read that it was predictable, with thin characters that make for a flat movie. And as far as I can tell, it’s pretty much disappeared since. Yet the movie did well in one regard – it earned a couple award nominations and even a win for its soundtrack by Hans Zimmer. That also makes this the second DreamWorks animated movie in a row with Hans Zimmer composing the soundtrack.

The movie, conceived in 1995, was originally going to be much more serious. Jeffrey Katzenberg envisioned a film styled after a Bob Hope/Bing Crosby style buddy comedy about two con-men seeking a Lost City of Gold. But after The Prince of Egypt ended up being fairly dramatic with some really dark themes, they instead went for more of a straight adventure comedy. This also caused the movie to be delayed a full year. Some jokingly referred to the movie as El Dorado: The Lost City on Hold because of several rewrites. Because of these changes, the original directors left the movie. Don Paul and Eric “Bibo” Bergeron joined the project to co-direct in their place.

Early on, Kevin Kline and Kenneth Branagh signed on as the lead characters Tulio and Miguel respectively. These characters are petty swindlers from Spain, just hoping to take a fortune and live somewhere far away from the authorities. Rosie Perez also signed onto the film as an El Dorado native who ends up helping them with their scheme to take as much of El Dorado’s gold as possible. She also hopes of leaving a city she’s utterly bored with. It’s worth noting that Klein and Branagh improvised a lot of their dialogue while they recorded their lines together. It does help their chemistry a bit. A bit.

The result is, well … the critics are right. This movie is fairly predictable and not all that funny. The beginning, where Tulio and Miguel come across the map to El Dorado feels incredibly rushed and obnoxious. The main characters talk way too much and a lot of the humour feels forced. After they get to El Dorado, the movie slows down enough that there is occasionally time to breathe. Even then, the movie never feels all that smart or original. The swindlers keep failing to get the gold, yet they somehow stumble their way into keeping up their charade that they’re gods. One of them decides to stay in El Dorado when he decides he enjoys his life there, almost tearing their friendship apart. And a deadly situation is what brings them back together again, to help the people of El Dorado.

That’s really all there is to say about this one. It’s an obnoxious, predictable movie where very few of the jokes will even make you smile. It’s not terrible, but I’ll forget about this movie in a couple weeks’ time. To say that all three of the Disney Animated movies released in 2000 were better than this, and that includes the mediocre Dinosaur movie, says something. I would strongly recommend the other similarly obnoxious The Emperor’s New Groove over this. Emperor’s New Groove may not be great, but it’s at least original and funny.

Next up is Chicken Run, which I saw way back in 2000 in theaters. I remember enjoying it quite a bit, but haven’t seen it since. After that, it’s either Joseph: The King of Dreams or Shrek, depending on whether I decide to review DreamWorks’ only straight to video release to date.

About healed1337

I am a relatively new comic book fan writing this blog for other new comic book fans and/or people who are interested in comics but don't know where to start. I've always been interested in writing, to the point where I have a college Creative Writing Certificate and I'm currently a year 2 Journalism student. I also have another blog where I mostly make fun of bad movies - www.healed1337.blogspot.com As for how I got into comics, I've always had a passing interest in superheroes: most notably Batman, Spider-man and the X-Men. Until February of 2011 (I think,) my only experience with any of these franchises came from the movies and video games. Shortly after I bought Marvel Vs. Capcom 3 however, I decided to check out X-23, Wolverine's female clone. I ended up reading her Innocence Lost origin story and enjoyed it. From there, I started reading various X-Men comics and it quickly exploded into my newest hobby. My other interests/hobbies include video games, movies, music, playing sports, my dogs and weird news.
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3 Responses to Dreamworks Animated Movies 3 – The Road To El Dorado

  1. evaschon says:

    Interesting review!

    I’ve only seen this once very long ago but I remember my opinion being more favorable. 🙂 Still wasn’t the best, though.


    • healed1337 says:

      It could be because I didn’t see it when I was younger, or possibly because it’s kind-of a relic of the early 2000’s and hasn’t aged well. It seems like there were a lot of obnoxious comedies back then, both animated and live action.


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