Film Reviews

Disney’s Descendants 2: Review

When the pressure to be royally perfect gets too much for Mal, (Dove Cameron) the daughter of Maleficent reverts back to her old ways as a villain kid and returns to the Isle of the Lost only to discover there’s a new Queen B in town.

For those unaware of Disney’s newest musical hit, Descendants first premiered on Disney Channel in Summer 2015 and became quite popular. The DCOM focused on the children of Maleficent, the Evil Queen, Jafar and Cruella De Vil in a world where the villains were banished to the Isle of the Lost where there was no magic (despite half of them dying in their respective movie) whilst the princes and princesses live in Auradon. After growing up on the Isle the VK’s receive an invitation by royal decree to attend Auradon Prep, the same school that the children their parents various heroes battled also attend.

Obviously, the kids decide to turn good at the end of the movie seemingly turning on their parents which leads us into its sequel.

Losing not an option, because we’re rotten to the core

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(L-R) Villain kids Jay (Booboo Stewart), Mal (Dove Cameron), Evie (Sofia Carson) and Carlos (Cameron Boyce)

Following DCOM (Disney Channel Original Movie) tradition, Descendants 2 begins with an ensemble opening number (“Ways to be Wicked”) showing the original VK’s (Villain Kids) resorting back to their evil ways by bewitching apples and giving them to attendees at Auradon Prep, turning them evil.

The Descendants sequel shows the villain kids finding their roles and leading happy lives on Auradon after leaving their villainous ways behind them. Evie (Sofia Carson) designs, creates and sells dresses, capes and uniforms for the Auradon Prep kids, Jay (Booboo Stewart) is excelling in sports captaining the majority of the schools teams and Carlos (Cameron Boyce) has gotten over his fear of dogs but not his fear of asking Jane (Brenna D’Amico) to Cotillion.

Everyone is fitting in, all except for Mal who is struggling to keep up the perfect act that she needs to be King Ben’s (Mitchell Hope) girlfriend.

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(L-R) New VK’s Gil (Dylan Playfair), Uma (China Anne McClain) and Harry (Thomas Doherty)

Back on the Isle, new and unknown (to the audience) villains emerge under the leadership of Captain Uma (China Anne McClain), daughter of Ursula and first mate Harry (Thomas Doherty), son of Hook and Uma has unresolved feelings towards Mal and the other VK’s (“What’s My Name”).

After the pressure and a fight with Ben becomes too much, Mal leaves and returns to the Isle believing it is where she belongs. Closely followed by a guilt ridden Ben along with Evie, Jay and Carlos for help (“Chillin’ Like a Villain”).

But, Ben isn’t built for the Isle and is soon captured by Uma and her crew forcing Mal and the VK’s to try to steal the wand from Fairy Godmother (Melanie Paxson) to exchange for Ben’s life (“It’s Goin’ Down”).

VERDICT

Directed and co-choreographed by Kenny Ortega (High School Musical), Descendants 2 takes the gears up a notch with bigger dance routines, more action and new characters. The sequel appears to put more focus on the friendships that have developed between the VK’s rather than their villainous upbringing as they grow into who they really are instead of who their parents wanted them to be.

I enjoyed the first Descendants a hell of a lot more than I thought I would. I thought my days of Disney Channel Original Movies were over but just when I think I’m out they pull me back in. I was a little apprehensive because Disney Channel’s TV shows just aren’t what they once were. Long gone are the days of Lizzie McGuire and That’s So Raven. We’ve moved on from Hannah Montana and Wizards of Waverly Place. We are living the Suite Life no more. But, Descendants is bringing DC back on track reminiscent of HSM and the Cheetah Girls complete with ensemble ending number (“You and Me”) and emotional break-up song (“Space Between”).

It was nice to see characters other than Mal getting more screen time and solos. I like Mal but she’s definitely become the lead character and while she is a good character and Dove plays her well, I feel she has picked up some stereotypical Disney female traits due to the fact that she has the prominent love story angle and even though that isn’t a bad thing I find Evie’s story line and progression more interesting and relevant.

Evie went from being the stereotype in D1 and wanting the perfect prince and castle to deciding to make her own future and go out and get the castle for herself in D2. I think it is something that little girls should be looking up to especially in today’s media. I think Disney have maybe unknowingly created a very strong, independent and inspiring character that fits with the time.

Sofia Carson definitely stole the show for me. Her portrayal of Evie is well done and she has a great connection and friendship with so many of the other characters, she isn’t just sticking with the VK’s. Plus her voice is amazing. I feel the boys (Jay (Booboo) and Carlos (Cameron)) have been given the short end of the stick. Yes, they got their little stories but its clear to me that the creators are investing more in the ladies.

Looking at the new crew China killed it. I haven’t seen much from her before, she was coming into Disney Channel just as I was leaving it, but she was very impressive. It felt like the role of Uma was made for her. Harry was an interesting character. It’s unusual for the villains main sidekick to be more serious and less silly. He, for me, came across as the most evil. He had that slight sadistic side to him, he actually wanted to hurt people and it was nice to hear Thomas‘ Scottish accent (UK represent!). Then there’s Gil (Dylan Playfair). Sweet, naive, oh so stupid Gil. You can’t do Disney without the comic relief can you, but I did find myself smiling at some of his lines. Nicely done.

Now, I do know the target audience for this film is younger than I (I know I’m only 19 but still) but I think even 10-year-old would cringing in some places. Number 1. Speed reading spell. Blonde hair spell. Cooking spell. Those are some seriously specific spells used in this film. You ever heard of hair dye it works wonders in fact you even use it later on in the film I mean come on. Really.

Number 2. I think it is time for Disney to stop doing romance. It’s just cringy. Again, it could be my age but the romance between Ben and Mal comes across really quite awkward. I think DCOM’s should focus more on the friendship and platonic rather than romantic because some of the moments between Mal and Evie were my favourites in the whole film because they gave off a sense of genuine friendship. Stick with what you’re good at, don’t force it because that is when it becomes off-putting.

Overall, an extremely enjoyable film. The songs are so catchy, they’ve been in my head constantly since I watched the film and there wasn’t a bad one. Really good casting and I like a lot of the characters. The only one I’m not fully on board with is Ben but I can handle it if it’s just the one. I would have been nice to see Disney do things differently. I know it focused on the villains in D1 but the VK’s aren’t villains anymore. They never really were. I know its unlikely to happen because its Disney, it’s for the younger ones and good always triumphs evil but it would’ve been a nice plot twist to maybe have the villains conquer a la Empire Strikes Back but D2 is an enjoyable film and an easy watch.

I give Descendants 2 a 8.5/10

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Emma

 

 

 

 

 

 

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