Dora and the Lost City of Gold (3 stars)

Dora and the Lost City of Gold

Isabela Moner shows star potential in this sweet kids' adventure based on the animated series

For those without access to Nickelodeon or small children, Dora the Explorer was a cute animated series for the under-eights that ran for almost 200 episodes and detailed the adventures of a little Latina girl, her red boots-wearing monkey Boots, a talking backpack and a singing map.

This live-action movie, from director James Bobin (The Muppets), brings the story of the relentlessly cheerful Dora (played here by Isabela Moner) up to date. After spending her childhood exploring the jungle with her parents (Eva Longoria and Michael Peña), Dora heads to the big city to be reunited with her cousin Diego (Jeff Wahlberg) and to attend high school. However, when her parents go missing while searching for a lost Incan city, Dora, Diego and classmates Sammy (Madeleine Madden) and Randy (Nicholas Coombe) brave the rainforest and bad guys to find them.

Aimed squarely at the youngest of audiences, and particularly those who already know and love Dora, this is a sweet Spy Kids-style adventure that never serves up anything too scary, complicated or upsetting for its tiny viewers. Of course, that means there's nothing especially exciting for anyone older, but accompanying parents will be won over by Dora's (and the movie's) optimistic, old-fashioned charm and some effective-enough action.

Aficionados of the cartoon series will enjoy the little in-jokes scattered around – Dora speaks to the camera as she does in the series, while her worried dad looks around to see who she is talking to – and the CG realisations of cuddly Boots and sly fox Swiper. And if Backpack no longer speaks in this live-action universe and Map is largely forgotten, there's a terrific hallucination sequence that will delight fans of the original show.

While grown-ups may grumble that it shares similarities with numerous explorer flicks that have gone before, from the Indiana Jones movies to Jumanji and Tomb Raider (you can imagine this movie's Dora growing up to be Lara Croft), it's worth remembering that the target audience won't be old enough to have seen any of those films.

Instead, they will chuckle as Dora's positivity sees her through various scrapes (including all the pitfalls of high school), enjoy her puzzles (though not, perhaps, her rather grating songs), and, best of all, find a new heroine in Moner, whose warm and delightful performance is the main reason to catch this entertaining adventure.

General release from Fri 16 Aug.

Dora and the Lost City of Gold

  • 3 stars
  • 2019
  • US
  • 1h 42min
  • PG
  • Directed by: James Bobin
  • Cast: Isabela Moner, Eugenio Derbez, Michael Peña, Eva Longoria, Danny Trejo

Dora (Moner) is a teenager who spent her childhood exploring the jungle with her parents (Longoria and Peña), but when her parents go missing, Dora leaves high school to find them. A sweet Spy Kids -style adventure that never serves up anything too scary, complex or upsetting for young viewers; Moner gives a warm and…