Movie review: Dora And The Lost City Of Gold
For children who grew up watching Nickelodeon cartoon series Dora The Explorer - and their parents who had to sit through it - this family-friendly live-action adventure comedy is an unexpected treasure.
Sporting the signature bobbed hair, pink and orange uniform and trusty backpack and map, Isabela Moner (Transformers: The Last Knight, Instant Family, Sicario: Day Of The Soldado) nails the grown-up titular protagonist's irrepressible optimism, adorable dorkiness and girl-powered smarts without ever being annoying, as she leads the audience on a fun and goofy romp.
Even when she breaks into song about poop or is upbeat to the point of embarrassment in front of her classmates, Moner's charm and charisma will win over any grumpy old troll.
The Latina starlet has already proven she can tackle drama, action and comedy, and deserves to be Hollywood's next It girl faster than you can say "vamonos".
The movie also pays homage to its source material with a healthy dose of self-aware humour.
Fans will crack up when an early scene shows six-year-old Dora breaking the fourth wall like the TV show ("Can you say delicioso? Say delicioso!"), followed by her dad's (Michael Pena) priceless reaction.
Seeing beloved animal characters like Boots the monkey and Swiper the fox come to life is also quite the treat, but nothing beats the trippy mid-film sequence when everything turns animated and straight out of Dora The Explorer.
The supporting cast are also a watchable bunch, especially Mexican comedian Eugenio Derbez as Dora's frazzled travelling companion and Ant-Man scene-stealer Pena.
If you are familiar with Jumanji: Welcome To The Jungle, Indiana Jones or even any fish-out-of-water high school teen comedy, Dora And The Lost City Of Gold essentially combines the predictable formula of both genres.
The storyline does not exactly explore new ground, but at least a new star has been discovered.
Movie reviews: Playmobil: The Movie, Revenge Of The Pontianak
PLAYMOBIL: THE MOVIE (PG)
While Playmobil toys are recommended for kids aged four to 12, Playmobil: The Movie will likely bore anyone who has reached double digits in age.
This is the directorial debut of Lino DiSalvo, the head animator on Frozen and a 17-year Disney veteran, but comes across as an unoriginal, lacklustre promotional tool.
When her younger brother (Gabriel Bateman) suddenly vanishes into the magical animated Playmobil universe and ends up in the clutches of the wicked Emperor Maximus (Adam Lambert), free-spirited Marla (Anya Taylor-Joy) embarks on a quest to save him.
This adventure comedy has the stylings of The Lego Movie franchise, yet none of the latter's playful, self-aware wit and visual invention that also made it a hit among grown-ups.
Although Playmobil: The Movie shifts between real life and animation, the characters are portrayed as two-dimensional throughout. Egocentric secret agent Rex Dasher (Daniel Radcliffe) does occasionally raise a smile with his delightful quips, but it is not enough to save the film. - JASMINE LIM -1.5 Ticks
REVENGE OF THE PONTIANAK (PG13)
Local director Glen Goei returns after a decade with his first horror film, set against the backdrop of 1965 Malaysia.
A small village helps a couple (Remy Ishak and Shenty Feliziana) prepare for their wedding day, but a slew of deadly supernatural happenings forcethe husband to confess to the murder of a girl he made pregnant years ago, now believed to have returned as a Pontianak (Nur Fazura in a dual role).
This fresh spin on the classic Malay folklore humanises the bloodthirsty spirit as a betrayed woman fuelled by vengeance.
Malaysian star Nur Fazura is a sight to behold in flashbacks, and yet spine-tingling as the Pontianak thanks to make-up and wardrobe.
The riveting, gorgeously-shot film is coupled with an enchanting soundtrack that intensifies the poignant scenes.
Still, it cannot get away from a cliched premise and dialogue, and rather wooden acting. - JASMINE LIM - 3 Ticks
47 Meters Down: Uncaged (PG13)
This sequel follows the diving adventure of four teenage girls (led by Corinne Foxx and Sistine Stallone) who discover that the sunken ruins they are exploring are a hunting ground for Great White Sharks.
Rotten Tomatoes: 50%
Angel Has Fallen (NC16)
When there is an assassination attempt on the US President (Morgan Freeman), his trusted Secret Service agent (Gerard Butler) is wrongfully accused and taken into custody.
Rotten Tomatoes: 40%
This Ron Howard-directed documentary film lifts the curtain on Luciano Pavarotti, featuring history-making performances and intimate interviews.
Rotten Tomatoes: 86%
Ready Or Not (M18)
A young bride (Samara Weaving) joins her new husband's rich, eccentric family in a time-honoured tradition that turns into a lethal game of survival.
Rotten Tomatoes: 88%
Bodies At Rest (NC16)
A cat-and-mouse game unfolds when three armed criminals (led by Richie Jen) barge into a morgue, demanding the forensic doctor (Nick Cheung) hand over a bullet lodged inside a corpse.
Rotten Tomatoes: 80%
After The Wedding (PG13)
When word comes to an orphanage worker in Kolkata (Michelle Williams) of a mysterious and generous grant, she travels to New York to meet the benefactor (Julianne Moore) in person.
Rotten Tomatoes: 47%
When a mild-mannered Uber driver (Kumail Nanjiani) picks up a passenger (Dave Bautista) who turns out to be a cop hot on the trail of a brutal killer, he is thrust into a harrowing ordeal.
Rotten Tomatoes: 42%