Educational cartoon series Dora The Explorer, which teaches preschoolers basic Spanish through repetition, is reimagined as a rollicking live-action adventure a la Raiders Of The Lost Ark by director James Bobin and scriptwriters Matthew Robinson and Nicholas Stoller.

By turns funny, charming, puerile and knowing, Dora And The Lost City Of Gold is a hugely entertaining romp that caters to all ages, including little ones familiar with the TV version and its irrepressible heroine, who repeatedly breaks the fourth wall to talk directly to viewers.

This curious habit of addressing the camera is played for laughs in Bobin’s breathlessly paced film.

“Can you say delicioso?” Dora urges us over the breakfast table in an early scene.

“She’ll grow out of it,” her confused father tells himself. Of course, she doesn’t.

Isabela Moner brings a winning combination of bright-eyed optimism and steely resolve to her incarnation of the title character, who merrily introduces herself during a stampede of pygmy elephants.

In an irreverent nod to its small-screen predecessor, the film reverts to hand-drawn animation (replete with a talking backpack) after the characters experience a close encounter with hallucinogenic plant spores

Blue monkey sidekick Boots and light-fingered fox Swiper (voiced by Benicio del Toro) are recreated using digital trickery, which opts for cuteness rather than photorealism.

Dora (Moner) is raised in the jungle by archaeologist parents Cole (Michael Pena) and Elena (Eva Longoria). They are poised to embark on a perilous expedition to locate the lost Peruvian civilisation of Parapata, which ancient texts describe as the hiding place of more gold than the rest of the world combined. Dora hopes to join her folks but Elena calmly counsels her daughter: “You have the whole world to explore. Go see it, make friends.” Consequently, Dora flies to Los Angeles to stay with her cousin Diego (Jeff Wahlberg), where the concrete jungle’s greatest challenge is navigating the warring tribes of the local high school.

Soon after, Cole and Elena vanish without trace and Dora becomes the unwitting heroine of her own hare-brained adventure, accompanied by Diego and misfit classmates Sammy (Madeleine Madden) and Randy (Nicholas Coombe).

“The jungle is perfectly safe,” Dora assures her inexperienced pals, “just don’t touch anything”.

Dora And The Lost City Of Gold is full of hidden treasures including tongue-in-cheek performances from a culturally diverse cast, gently simmering romance and toilet humour including a jaunty song about digging a poo hole in the wild.


For years, two-time Oscar winner Quentin Tarantino has been publicly declaring his intention to retire after 10 films in the director’s chair.

That day of reckoning moves ever closer with the release of his supposedly penultimate picture, a valentine to the golden age of Hollywood, which unspools the exploits of a fictional actor and his stunt double against the real-life backdrop of the Manson family murders in the summer of 1969.

Fact and blood-soaked fantasy are rumbustious playmates in Tarantino’s script, which momentarily orbits bona fide stars including Bruce Lee (Mike Moh) and Steve McQueen (Damian Lewis), and saves its most daring flourish for a sickeningly brutal finale that includes a close-up of a face being smashed repeatedly into a stone mantelpiece.

Since his eye-catching debut with Reservoir Dogs - a trim 97 minutes - brevity has seldom been the writer-director’s strong point and Once Upon A Time... In Hollywood falls foul of self-indulgent excesses that should perhaps have been addressed in the editing room.

Tarantino conjures moments of nerve-shredding tension that demonstrate his master of the craft, peaking with two prolonged sequences with Manson’s acolytes that tighten the large knot of tension in our stomachs. Rick Dalton (Leonardo DiCaprio), one-time star of TV western Bounty Law, becomes convinced that his career is over after an uncomfortable meeting with straight-talking agent Marvin Schwarz (Pacino). The handsome leading man drowns his sorrows with best friend and stunt double Cliff Booth (Brad Pitt), who also acts as his chauffeur. Cliff attempts to buoy Rick’s spirits as he prepares for a guest spot as the ‘bad guy’ on new TV series Lancer, starring James Stacy (Timothy Olyphant). Meanwhile, director Roman Polanski (Rafal Zawierucha) and pregnant actress Sharon Tate (Margot Robbie) move into the neighbouring property to Rick, where they entertain a succession of friends including hairstylist Jay Sebring (Emile Hirsch).

On the night of August 9, Charles Manson (Damon Herriman) dispatches four knife-wielding disciples - Tex (Austin Butler), Sadie (Mikey Madison), Flower Child (Maya Hawke) and Katie (Madisen Beaty) - to kill everyone inside the rented property at 10050 Cielo Drive.

Narrated by Kurt Russell’s stunt coordinator, Once Upon A Time... In Hollywood takes poetic licence with historical fact to pen a gushing love letter to the art of filmmaking. Period detail is impressive, epitomised by a groovy soundtrack of late 1960s toe taps including Vanilla Fudge’s cover of The Supremes’ You Keep Me Hangin’ On.

UGLYDOLLS (U) Two stars

The most beautiful sight in the world is the inquisitive face staring back at you in the bathroom mirror. That’s the key learning of UglyDolls, a well-intentioned journey of self-acceptance based on the popular line of toys created by David Horvath and Sun-Min Kim. Kelly Asbury delivers this sharp riposte to airbrushed and filtered ‘perfection’ through computer animation and a soundtrack of anodyne pop ditties penned by Christopher Lennert and Glenn Slater. The film defies its own key tenet and joins a herd of glossy coming-of-age fables, which warn bright young minds against judging themselves by appearances.Unblemished conformity should never be put on a pedestal above compassion and kindness so it’s extremely disappointing that Asbury’s picture doesn’t wear its heart on a digitally-rendered sleeve.

GOOD BOYS (15) Three stars

Good boys go bad in director Gene Stupnitsky’s potty-mouthed coming-of-age comedy, a haphazard misadventure in the company of three pre-teen pals on the precipice of puberty.

Producers Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg traversed similarly messy territory in Superbad with older characters on the verge of college. The unsettling transition from fifth to sixth grade provides a loose dramatic framework for lurid life lessons for a cherubic trinity (Jacob Tremblay, Brady Noon, Keith L Williams).The script relies heavily on adult toys for laughs and the novelty of these items in the hands of unsuspecting tykes does wear thin.