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Dora and the Lost City of Gold
  • Composed by John Debney and Germaine Franco
  • Paramount Music / 72m

Everything changes when you have children. One thing that’s changed for me is that I hardly ever go to the cinema any more, but one thing’s for certain: I will be going to see Dora and the Lost City of Gold. And my daughter has yet to see a film she hasn’t liked, so she will certainly like it and that means I will like it too. There aren’t any songs on the soundtrack album after the first track so she probably won’t like that, but I do. Steady hand John Debney is joined by Germaine Franco – who worked for many years for John Powell – to provide the old-fashioned symphonic action/adventure score. The album opens with a new version of the irritatingly catchy Dora theme song and Debney and Franco cleverly weave it into their score in various places, in increasingly-creative ways – it’s not exactly a rousing adventure theme though, so that leaves a vacancy for a strong main theme to fill out the Indiana Jones sound the composers were evidently aiming for.

Surprisingly, it doesn’t really get that – there are linking motifs through the score but nothing you’re likely to remember. That’s such a pity because in every other way this is really strong stuff: two early cues, “Mad Because You Are Leaving” and “10 Years Later” are both highlights, the first a beautifully colourful piece infused with a great Andean spirit, the second full of melancholy. There’s the lovely “Am I A Weirdo?” too (to contemplate the answer to that question you have to take into account that Dora talks to her backpack and attempts to teach a monkey to speak Spanish every few minutes). When the action music comes, towards the end of “Wild Goose Chase”, it’s actually Jerry Goldsmith initially who seems to be the inspiration – but it’s not long before a John Williams influence comes to the fore. It’s not really Williams in Raiders of the Lost Ark mode, more the late-career action style of the master most of the time, though we do hear the Lost in Space theme during the entertaining “Alejandro and the Rescue”. There’s a lot of rhythmic, propulsive action music from that point forward and it’s all entertaining and intricately detailed, technically beyond reproach. Highlights are the pair of thunderous cues “Camino Real de Parapata” (with great choral accompaniment) and “Tilting Room”, then a bit later the soaring “Lost Guardian of Parapta” and “Show Me the Correct Path” (which remind me a little of Alan Silvestri’s more sweeping moments from his Tomb Raider score). There are a lot of short cues here (38 tracks on the album) so a lot of ideas come and go rather quickly but that’s not a massive detriment. Really, all this thing needs is a great main theme.

Rating: *** | |

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  1. Imbatman (Reply) on Monday 19 August, 2019 at 08:05

    James, are you not doing review on Lion King (2019) soundtrack ?

    • James Southall (Reply) on Monday 19 August, 2019 at 18:53

      Probably not, sadly I haven’t heard it.

      • Rory (Reply) on Wednesday 21 August, 2019 at 17:57


        But probably good for your cortisol levels.

  2. Andre---Cape Town. (Reply) on Thursday 17 October, 2019 at 02:26

    This is the worst film I have seen in decades–I was so annoyed with what I was viewing, that I must have projected my irritation on to DEBNEY’S score [I usually admire his creativity, that’s why I decided to see The Lost City]. So, instead of ordering the DEBNEY CD, I’ve included the remastered ‘Taming of the Shrew’ among a list of ‘wants’. NINO ROTA’S gorgeous, Renaissance-infused music for Zeffirelli’s stunning visuals had been previously released, but with ghastly audio reproduction that has now been corrected. The new 2-CD release also includes ROTA’S mock-up for a 1967 album that was never produced. It included arrangements of the score that are exquisite.