Despite substandard animation, this brightly coloured sequel has a strong enough sense of both its story and characters to hold the audience's attention. And kids might not mind the quality, as they are re-introduced to classic characters in an all-new adventure based on the book Dorothy of Oz by Roger S Baum (great-grandson of L Frank).
It starts the morning after Dorothy (voiced by Lea Michele) gets back home to Kansas after her iconic adventure. Her panicky friends Scarecrow, Tinman and Lion (Dan Aykroyd, Kelsey Grammer and James Belushi) summon her back to Oz, where considerable time has passed while a crazed Jester (Martin Short) kidnaps good witch Glinda (Bernadette Peters) so he and his army of flying monkeys can launch their reign of terror. On her long journey back to Emerald City, Dorothy has a series of adventures with Wiser the owl (Oliver Platt), Marshal Mallow (Hugh Dancy), the China Princess (Megan Hilty) and the old tree Tugg (Patrick Stewart), who all help her take on the Jester.
Yes, the plot is rather simplistic (the Jester merely seems evil for evil's sake), but the real problem is that the animation is badly under-developed. Characters are painfully thin, with no gravity to them at all, which makes it impossible for them to properly interact visually. Fortunately there are some clever touches to the design work, such as the way everything in Oz looks battered and broken, which adds a badly needed dark edge to the otherwise sunny silliness.
Continue reading: Legends Of Oz: Dorothy's Return Review
The one aspect of this film that fits squarely within genre conventions is the subject matter. Like such classics as Beauty and the Beast and Aladdin, El Dorado finds a classical fantasy in the lost city of gold, couching it in a historical context: In this case is the Spanish explorer Cortez's very real search for that mythical city. Unfortunately though, Cortez is lost for the bulk of the film while we are left to follow two roguish Spaniards (voiced by Kline and Branagh) who stumble upon, in sequence, a map to El Dorado, Cortez's ship to the New World, and El Dorado itself. Once the two con artists find El Dorado, they are of course hailed as Gods, and the bulk of the story concerns just how they are going to carry out this charade and make off with the gold back to Spain. In the process, we are left with a half-hearted conniving native medicine man voiced by Armand Assante as our only hope for a true villain. Once they find the lost city, the plot follows turn for turn that of the 1975 Sean Connery vehicle, The Man Who Would Be King. One could argue that plagiarizing a great film is not such a bad idea, considering a great bulk of the audience has never seen said film or read the book it is based on. Nonetheless, it tends to irk any true movie fan to see great movies remade badly.
Continue reading: The Road To El Dorado Review