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ROAD TO EL DORADO, THE

SYNOPSIS:
Tulio (voice of Kevin Kline) and Miguel (voice of Kenneth Branagh) are two con-men who win a map to El Dorado, the legendary City of Gold. After escaping from Spanish explorer Cortes' ship with the help of clever war horse Altivo, they stumble to El Dorado and are proclaimed gods by scheming High Priest Tzekel-Kan (voice of Armand Assante) in order to take away the Chief's (voice of Edward James Olmos) power. But there's danger in paradise; Tulio and Miguel need the beautiful, mischievous Chel (voice of Rosie Perez) to help them, as their dreams of gold, their friendship and the fate of El Dorado hangs in the balance.

"Filled with vibrant colours and toe-tapping songs that will put a beaming smile on your face, The Road to El Dorado is a delightful charmer whose magic will enchant all ages. The animation is bold, the characters adorable and Elton John's songs will have you humming throughout. This enchanting fantasy adventure is different in that there is no traditional hero or heroine, but two lovable scoundrels, a sassy beauty and a goofy white horse with personality. Unlike the road to Oz with its yellow-brick road, the road to this Shangri-La is paved with misadventures, mistakes and misunderstandings. But there is never any doubt that our protagonists will ultimately recognise the importance of friendship, love and doing the right thing. It's total escapism, with enough humour and wit to keep even the cynic entertained. Kevin Kline and Kenneth Branagh's assured comedic timing bring Tulio and Miguel to life with spontaneity and charisma, while Rosie Perez defines the exotic Chel as a delicious and curvaceous, exotic version of Roger Rabbit's splendid Jessica. Add the talents of Armand Assante and Edward James Olmos, and the characters spring to life with zest and zeal. Essentially a buddy movie with repartee to spare, much of the humour comes gag-layering: the effect of one gag on top of the next has a delectable domino effect. My favourite scene is the unconventional basketball game, when a cute ball-like animal helps itself through the hoop at the most crucial of moments. Jump into the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, The Road to El Dorado is a fantasy to dream about."
Louise Keller

"Everything Louise says - I disagree with. I don't think the colours are vibrant, my toes didn't tap to the songs (they sound like the material in Elton John's 'discarded animation tunes' drawer) and the animation itself is flat and unimaginative. Now for the bad news: the characterisations are hopelessly out of kilter: giving contemporary sensibilities to ancient Mexicans who celebrate strange rituals is only marginally worse than giving the two heroes dialogue which could only work effectively if they weren't animated. The mish mash of sensibilities and the obsession for second rate set pieces copied (poorly) from more successful animated movies of the past (like Aladdin or Beauty and The Beast) turns this into a purgatory film: it's neither perfect for children nor entertaining for adults. Aimed, it seems, at pre-teens, the film flirts with romance and turns in very short adventure scenes. If you love animation, this Road will lead you to El Doldrums."
Andrew L. Urban

"Having reviewed the Elton John CD before seeing the movie, I can't help but reflect that the film itself fails to make the best use of the songs he recorded for the project. Some of the best tracks didn't make it and a few of the arrangements suffer as well. Even more disappointingly, the very best of the bunch, It's Tough To Be A God, loses much of its vibrancy when performed in character by ersatz singers Kline and Branagh. The Zimmer/Powell score, however, is a stirring celebration of South American rhythms. The zesty guitars and exuberant percussion providing apt accompaniment to a whimsical fantasy that finds its inspiration in the road movie, the buddy movie and the picaresque Spanish adventure. There's music in the dialogue too. The repartee between Kline, Branagh and Perez is a delight. Branagh's pauses and inflections create Miguel anew, between each phrase, as poetic dreamer, or facetious fool, while Kline is a perfect foil as the practical schemer, at once infuriated and smitten by his friend's unbridled joie de vivre (or the Spanish equivalent). Not to be outdone, Perez finds a charming tone between flirt and femme fatale for the cunning, cute and curvaceous Chel. While the detail of the backdrop animation is often more eye-popping than the characters' facial features, there is a clever use of caricature to evoke personality. So that Cortes, as a mere symbol of Conquistador supremacy, is as stony faced as an Andes escarpment, while the semi-anthropomorphic warhorse is all bulging eyes and flaring nostrils. There have been more original, and perhaps better executed big-screen animations in recent years, but none with a greater sense of fun. Like its two heroes, the film may not be perfect, but it certainly has a heart of gold."
Brad Green

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HEAR Andrew L. Urban & Louise Keller talk about the film in Real Audio.

CRITICAL COUNT
Favourable: 2
Unfavourable: 1
Mixed: 0

Eleanor Sing reports on the
LOSERS' ADVENTURE

Read Brad Green's SOUNDTRACK REVIEW

TRAILER

ROAD TO EL DORADO, THE (G)
(US)

VOICES: Kevin Kline Kenneth Branagh, Rosie Perez, Armand Assante, Edward James Olmos, Jim Cummings, Frank Welker, Tobin Bell

DIRECTOR: Eric 'Bibo' Bergeron, Don Paul

PRODUCER: Bonne Radford, Brooke Berton

SCRIPT: Ted Elliott & Terry Rossio

EDITOR: Vicki Hiatt

SONGS: Elton John, Lyrics by Tim Rice

MUSIC: Hans Zimmer & John Powell

PRODUCTION DESIGN: Christian Schellewald

ART DIRECTORS: Raymond Zibach, Paul Lasaine, Wendell Luebbe

RUNNING TIME: 90 minutes

AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: United International Pictures

AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: September 7, 2000 (Sydney; Melb on Sept 14)







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