Movie Review: The Road to El Dorado

The Road to El Dorado Trailer

The Road to El Dorado Summary

In 1519 Spain, con-artists Miguel and Tulio win a map to the legendary City of Gold, El Dorado, in a rigged dice gamble (though they ironically win the map fairly after Tulio was given normal dice from one of the opponents). After their con is exposed, the two evade the guards and accidentally stow away on one of the ships to be led by conquistador Hernán Cortés for the New World. At sea, they are caught and imprisoned, but break free and steal a rowboat with the help of Cortés’ mistreated horse, Altivo.

Their boat reaches land, where Miguel begins to recognize landmarks from the map, leading them to a totem marker near a waterfall that Tulio believes is a dead end. As they prepare to leave, they encounter a native woman, Chel, being chased by guards. When the guards see Tulio and Miguel riding Altivo as depicted on the totem, they escort them and Chel to a secret entrance behind the falls, into El Dorado. They are brought to the city’s elders, kindhearted Chief Tannabok and wicked high priest Tzekel-Kan. The pair are mistaken for gods when a volcano coincidentally erupts but simultaneously stops during an argument between them and they are given luxurious quarters, along with the charge of Chel. She discovers that the two are conning the people, but promises to remain quiet if they take her with them when they leave the city. The two are showered with gifts of gold from Tannabok, but disapprove of Tzekel-Kan attempting to sacrifice a civilian at the gods’ ritual. Meanwhile, Cortés and his men reach land.

Tulio and Miguel instruct Tannabok to build them a boat so that they can leave the city with all the gifts they have been given, under the ruse that they are needed back in the ‘other world’. Chel gets romantically close to Tulio and Miguel explores the city, coming to appreciate the peaceful life embraced by the citizens; when Tzekel-Kan sees Miguel playing a ball game with children, he insists the “gods” demonstrate their powers against the city’s best players. Tulio and Miguel are outmatched, but Chel replaces the ball with an armadillo, allowing them to win. Miguel spares the ritual of sacrificing the losing team and berates Tzekel-Kan, to the crowd’s approval and earning Tannabok’s respect. Tzekel-Kan notices Miguel received a cut during the game and realizes the pair are not gods since gods do not bleed, hence the reason for the sacrifices. Afterward, Miguel, who has by then reconsidered leaving the city, overhears Tulio telling Chel that he would like her to come with them to Spain, before adding he would like her to come with specifically him and to forget Miguel – straining the relationship between the two. At a party being thrown for them, Miguel and Tulio begin to argue about Tulio and Chel’s conversation and Miguel’s desire to stay when Tzekel-Kan conjures a giant stone jaguar to chase them throughout the city. Tulio and Miguel manage to outwit the jaguar, causing it and Tzekel-Kan to fall into a giant whirlpool, thought by the natives to be the entrance to Xibalba, the spirit world. Tzekel-Kan then surfaces in the jungle, where he encounters Cortés and his men. Believing Cortés to be the real god, Tzekel-Kan offers to lead him to El Dorado.

Miguel decides to stay in the city while Tulio and Chel board the completed boat, before they see smoke on the horizon and realize Cortés is approaching. Knowing what will happen if Cortés discovers the city, Tulio suggests using the boat to ram the rock pillars under the waterfall and block the main entrance to the city, despite knowing they will lose the gold in the process. The plan succeeds with the citizens pulling over a statue in the boat’s wake to give it enough speed. As the statue starts to fall too quickly, Tulio has difficulty in preparing the boat’s sail. Forfeiting his ability to stay in the city, Miguel and Altivo jump onto the boat to unfurl the sails, assuring the boat clears the statue in time. The group successfully crashes against the pillars, causing a cave-in, while losing all their gifts in the process. They hide near the totem just as Cortés’ men and Tzekel-Kan arrive. When they find the entrance blocked, Cortés brands Tzekel-Kan a liar and takes him prisoner as they leave. Tulio and Miguel, though disappointed they lost the gold (unaware that Altivo still wears the golden horseshoes with which he was outfitted in El Dorado), have appreciated the thrill of their adventure, and head in a different direction for a new adventure with Chel.

The Road to El Dorado Review

Rating: 5 out of 5.

I almost forget this was done by Dreamworks. El Dorado and a few other films released in the 90s and early 2000s were top hits for them in comparison to Disney. This one being one of them. Great Family movie full of action, romance and comedy.

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