The Road to El Dorado is DreamWorks' second big attempt, after 1998's The Prince of Egypt, to break into Disney's monopoly on the animated film business. It is an effort as disappointing as the first.

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.

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