The 2000 Dreamworks film “The Road to El Dorado” is witty and full of amusing characters. In an adventure-packed trek to find the elusive “city of gold,” El Dorado, main characters Miguel and Tulio of Spain make friends and enemies, encounter obstacles and strengthen their friendship.
After winning a mysterious map believed to lead to El Dorado, the two best friends find themselves in jail for using loaded dice. This jail happens to be aboard Cortez’s ship headed for the New World, which the two promptly escape from. They land on a small, deserted island. Quickly convinced that this island is where El Dorado could be located, Miguel convinces a reluctant Tulio to accompany him on a journey to find the “city of gold.”
They arrive at El Dorado and quickly realize that the people of the city are convinced that they are gods. Finding this amusing and convenient, Miguel and Tulio decide to withhold the truth and make a plan to leave once they’ve acquired enough gold. In the meantime, they bask in the royal treatment.
Although the comedic plotline of “The Road to El Dorado” is mainly what keeps viewers entertained, the animation style also greatly enhances the movie’s appeal. It is two-dimensional, simple and classic. It gives each character a unique look and allows the viewer to focus on the events more. The color palette of the film — the bright hues of the city, the character’s clothing and the landscape — adds to the playful aspects of the movie. When the movie takes a negative turn, such as when Cortez appears, the color palette turns darker and more neutral. Being able to have creative freedom through the manipulation of subtle changes like these is an appeal of the animation style. These changes are also very indicative of how the creators want each character to be viewed.
The wit and humor of the film also keeps the viewer engaged. The adventurous and relaxed characteristics of Miguel perfectly balances Tulio’s uptight personality. When the two find themselves in trouble for using loaded dice, they start a fake argument to delay their punishment and successfully escape the situation. It truly feels as if they’ve been friends for years, as if the viewer has stepped into only a fraction of their relationship.
Finally, one of the best parts of “The Road to El Dorado” is the soundtrack by Elton John. One of the more popular songs, titled “It’s Tough to Be a God,” plays as Miguel and Tulio are prancing around in fancy clothes, pretending to be gods. The song “The Trail we Blaze” is the soundtrack to the duo’s journey through the jungle to find the city. The music is upbeat and complex, each song fitting specific scenes and situations nicely.
The Road to El Dorado is available to stream on Peacock, or can be bought from other services such as Apple TV, Amazon Prime Video, Redbox and YouTube.