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I like the buddy picture feel of this movie. I like how in an early scene where Miguel and Tullio think they’re about to die and Tullio says his second greatest regret after dying is not having amassed more gold and Miguel’s is not having had more adventures Tullio tells Miguel he made his life an adventure and Miguel tells Tullio he made his life rich. And I like the serious character development Miguel and Tollio go through to the point where in the end they sacrifice their wealth to save El Dorado.
The fact they impersonate gods is problematic, since I know they’re conmen but there is a line and impersonating divinities is a seriously horrible thing to do. To be fair, they don’t proclaim themselves gods, they’re mistaken for deities by the people of El Dorado and justify exploiting the people’s error on the grounds that “If we don’t comply with the people’s wishes, I can see us getting sacrificed or stuffed, the people’s wishes are not to be rebuffed”. Though the fact that Tzekel Khan probably would have killed them for not being gods, as they claim, makes their offence seem somewhat less repugnant. It’s still a part of the movie with which I’m not entirely comfortable.
That having been established, I like that the Villain Has a Point since Tzekel Khan is right about them being false gods and justifiably angry about that. Though I also like how the film averted Strawman Has a Point by having Tzekel Khan be an extremely bloodthirsty High Priest who enjoys human sacrifice far too much and wants the gods to return to cause an apocalyptic cataclysm rather than simply being a Designated Villain. I know that that depiction can itself have potential unfortunate implications but I think that the Chief being a reasonable authority figure and objecting to Tzekel Khan’s villainy tempers the effect of that.
I like how Chel, despite being Ms. Fanservice has a brain and she is very much her own person.
I like how Hernan Cortes parallels Tzekel Khan in that each one is a bloodthirsty fundamentalist albeit for different religions.
I like the song, it’s tough to be a god, referenced in the title of my review, and I like the Elton John soundtrack in general.
I also find the humour in the film to be quite funny. (Examples including:You gave me loaded dice, I fought your sister that’s a compliment, you mean he isn’t a god).
And I do like the dual Aesop of 1) people are more important than gold and 2) to err is human to forgive divine. Considering their error is particularly egregious they seem to be a bit easily forgiven by the film but considering that they sacrifice their ill-gotten gains to save El Dorado, I can live with it.
So is this movie a DreamWorks classic like The Prince of Egypt was? No. Is it a good film? Most definitely.
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