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Surf and Turf Review

Aliens & Dora and the Lost City of Gold

Every week, my husband and I enjoy Two-Movie Tuesday. He picks one movie, I pick another, and we watch them together. Then, I review the success of the double feature, looking at the movies individually as well as how they fit together as a pair. I call this the weekly Surf & Turf Special. (You can decide which of us is Surf and which of us is Turf). 

This week, our Surf and Turf special consisted of Aliens followed by Dora and the Lost City of Gold

Aliens Review

Aliens was my husband’s choice, following last week’s selection of Alien. He’s currently choosing movies that I “should have seen by now.” 

I’ll be honest: I wasn’t looking forward to Aliens this week. I respected Alien when we watched it last week, but it was slow. It was plodding. It had that classic early-horror-movie feel from when directors didn’t know how to make cuts. I expected Aliens to be more of the same. 

I was wrong. 

James Cameron did Aliens proud. Not only did it hold together more tightly than the first movie, but it also held up well over time. I mean, the aliens themselves weren’t as scary now as they probably were when the movie was released in ‘86. But it lacked the terrible CGI that so often makes old movies cringe-worthy. Use of real set pieces and actors lent the movie verisimilitude.

Most important take-aways from the movie: 

  • Newt is exactly how I imagine my toddler in about 4 years (except, you know, with more PTSD)
  • Nuking it from space is the only way to be sure. 
  • There is something inherently demeaning about a grown man calling a grown woman “kiddo,” and it should always make you want to smack his stupid face. Always. 

Chosen By: Husband

Would Have Paired Perfectly With: Alien 

Overall Rating: 7/10

Dora and the Lost City of Gold Review

I chose Dora fully expecting it to be terrible. Because, let’s be real, when the College Humor Fake Trailer for a movie turns out almost identical to the real trailer, you know you’re in for a shit show. 

It did not disappoint. 

I’m not saying there were no good moments. During a scene in the beginning when Dora pretended to speak to the camera, her dad looked genuinely terrified and then announced, “Eh. She’ll grow out of it.” It was a scene thrown in there for the benefit of any adult who’s ever screamed “it’s behind you, you jackass!” at Dora to the utter chagrin of their enamored toddler, and I loved it. 

Maybe instead of staring at us you could try TURNING AROUND

On the whole, however, Dora and the Lost City of Gold felt like a wannabe kids-Indiana Jones that fell just shy of the mark. The humor was en point, and Michael Peña hit his notes perfectly, but the plot was weak, the ending was predictable, and the inclusion of a stupid talking fox ruined an otherwise totally kind of realistic-ish movie. 

For example, instead of a stupid talking fox, they could have…

  • Not had a fox at all. He’s not in every episode of Dora. He didn’t need to be in the movie.
  • Just had a dude named Swiper steal the kids’ map, as a nod to Swiper the Fox
  • Had a childhood friend dress up as a fox named Swiper, and then show up later on to steal their map
  • Have a real, non-costumed, non-talking fox bowl them over and knock their map out of their hands

I mean, the movie didn’t suck. If our daughter turns out to be a Dora fan down the road, I could see myself sitting through the movie again. There were enough funny parts to make it a lark for adults. Unfortunately, they did just enough right with the movie that the things that went wrong felt less bad-movie-night funny and more… disappointing. 

Chosen By: Me

Would Have Paired Perfectly With: Raiders of the Lost Ark

Overall Rating: 4.5/10

3 Similarities Between Aliens and Dora and the Lost City of Gold

My husband and I don’t choose our movies based on how well they’ll pair or what they have in common, but when you watch two movies back to back, you’re bound to notice commonalities. Here are three themes that helped these two movies pair together.

Strong Female Leads

Whatever my complaints about Dora, she is undoubtedly a bad-ass and a great role model for young women. She goes on adventures, knows multiple languages (at least three), has awesome wilderness skills, knows tons about animals, and isn’t afraid to be herself. Weak plot aside, Dora is the type of main character you want your daughters to look up to. 

And if your daughters are older and likely to battle aliens, they can’t match Ripley for level-headedness and good common sense. 

Truer words were never spoken.

I also loved that our strong female leads weren’t there just to be a romantic interest. There was maybe a hint of something between Ripley and Hicks, but the movie never got into it. This is also the second movie with Ripley in it and the first time romance was even hinted at, which I think is pretty damn forward of the 80’s. 

Meanwhile, in the world of Dora the Explorer, teenaged Diego got a romantic interest, but Dora had other things on her plate.

Thank you, Nickelodeon. 

De-Emphasis on Money

In the words of Dora’s mom, “Exploring: Good. Money: Bad.” 

It turned out to be a major theme for both movies, with antagonists fueled by greed and a love of money, and protagonists fueled by… other… priorities. Like family. And not getting eviscerated by Xenomorphs. You know, important stuff. 

Bad-ass Hispanic Representation

One of the cool things about Dora has always been the sprinkling of Spanish throughout episodes. The movie out-staged the show in this regard, and was laced with a trace of Hispanic culture that felt less cartoon-y and more genuine than the TV show. 

As for Aliens, it features one of the best Hispanic characters I’ve ever seen: Vasquez. That girl could bench any guy in the corps. She is brutal with a gun and her tongue is as sharp as any knife.

And yes, she died. But she died in a gloriously bad-ass conflagration which is absolutely the way you want to die (if the alternative is acid-spewing alien parasites). 

Three thumbs up. 

Overall Surf & Turf Rating

These two movies actually paired really well. Aliens was stressful, Dora was hilarious. Neither movie was fresh and groundbreakingly original–at least not in 2020–but they were both enjoyable on their own, and they paired like an agéd cheese and a really cheap boxed wine. 

Or maybe like an agéd cheese and a box of grape juice.

Double Movie Rating: 6/10.