So yesterday saw the premiere of the long awaited second installment of the Disney movie Descendants “Descendants 2”. I watched and loved the first installment and after watching the second one, I decided to do a review of what you can expect and if the movie lives up to the hype.
Side note: This is not spoiler free for the first movie.
Side note 2: Paragraphs with spoilers for the second movie will be marked with a red ‘#’
The Descendants movies are mainly about the world of Auradon (like a wonderful and good world only possible in fairytales) and the Isle of the Lost (like villain-island where they put everyone evil or bad) and how one day the young and about to be king prince Ben decides to let the children of villains come to an Auradon school and give them a chance at normal life. The four chosen children are: Mal, daughter of Maleficent (from Sleeping Beauty), Evie, daughter of the evil queen (from Snow White), Carlos, son of Cruella de Vil (101 Dalmatians …or was it just a 100?) and Jay, son of Jafar (from Aladdin). It’s about them trying to fit in, make their parents proud and also maybe get some happiness for themselves.
Disney Channel Original movies
Every year Disney or Disney Channel releases a few original movies like in 2014 “Zapped”, “Cloud 9” and “How To Build A Better Boy”. Normally those movies star many actors and actresses known from Disney Channel shows and some new faces. And every few years the release a movie that allows for a sequel, some of them though made for having a sequel, others not so much. In my teenage years it was “High School Musical” and its 3 installments, then they had “Teen Beach Movie” with 2 installments and which was nice and some amazing musical numbers but just not exactly my taste (although I thought it was interesting to see a Disney Channel movie ending not exactly ‘happy’ but kinda open).
In 2015 they released “Descendants” and it became a big hit. And I totally understand why. Having old stories and fairytales reinterpreted or seen in a new light is not something new on TV but Disney took a step no one before really took (except for maybe the TV show “Once Upon A Time” – but that’s much more serious and dark and without musical numbers). Also “Descendants” impressed with amazing and modern music and dance numbers, had interesting and catchy characters, great costume design and created its own little world. I’m really not surprised it got as popular as it is.
So did the second movie live up to its prequel?
# Storywise the movie is definitely a teen movie, you notice in some cheesy scenes and plotlines but otherwise I have to give big compliments to the writers. The trailer for the movie seemed reaaaaally typical and cliché but after watching it, I realised, the writers pumped up the pace and jumped the total cliché of story and went for the showdown of the goodies and the baddies quite fast. And just when you think, the highlight is here and over, the real highlight and big showdown comes (even though the dragon/seamonster and Ben in the water scene CGI was kinda well…obvious CGI, I loved the CGI in the normal scenes, so nice).
# Also “Descendants 2” got a more serious tone than the first one, definitely. It’s not only about not fitting in and faking being someone you are not, this time it is also about being honest and friends helping friends to get through something. The scene where Carlos makes them sit down and talk for real, this scene had quite some depth for a Disney Channel movie.
Side note: Read further in the character section
# The music of the first one was already great but this one…this is definitely step up. Especially because the songs are quite different from each other. There is the ‘wicked’ song, that’s like the continuation of ‘Rotten to the core’ from the first movie. Then there is ‘What’s my name?’ which is just badass and has this strong and deep tone in it which I just love. Also ‘Chillin’ Like A Villain’ which features a totally different vibe than any other “Descendants” song. Ballad/dramatic song ‘Space Between’ which makes you want to have a best friend like Mal and Evie. And there is ‘It’s Going Down’ which was a mix of showdown song and rap battle, also something you normally don’t get from Disney Channel movies. And last but not least ‘You and Me’ which may be the usual ‘we are one and we may make mistakes but we will help each other and do better’ song but still gives it such a nice ending (also the dancing!!!)
Just great and so nice. And it gets better during the movie. Loved the choreo for ‘Chillin’ Like a Villain’ and ‘You and Me’ so much!!!
And big compliments to Sofia Carson and Cameron Boyce…great dancing and they made the stage theirs with their dancing.
The character development in this movie was…more than I expected. You not only got a look into our main main person (no, not a mistake, I repeated it on purpose) but also quite some depth to the feelings of our other beloved characters (and amazingly with just a few lines). Also over the course of the movie I TOTALLY forgot that these people were actors and actresses. Compliments to the cast!!
# With Mal, soooo many compliments to Dove Cameron. Seriously, I wasn’t a fan of hers before, I am now. She played the overwhelmed girl in a princess outfit like it is usually done in Disney Channel movies, then the rebel going back to the Isle totally embracing her character and finally the hurt and overwhelmed girl who just wants to feel like herself like…well, exactly like a girl in that condition would act like. Dove Cameron is definitely the main and front reason why you’ll forget that the characters are played by actors and are not actual people.
# Evie, she definitely became the best friend you could ever have. She understood Mal and accepted her, whatever her choice may be. She was there for her friends while also being honest. Also you could see a lot of her feelings when she made Ben promise not to leave her on the island and when she offered Mal the choice of coming or not coming to the dance whatever she may feel like and not forcing her to come if Mal didn’t want to. And just for fun, Ben and Evie make such good friends, so there for each other!
# Carlos. I really really loved three scenes which told you a lot about Carlos. He also offered a lot of the funny scenes with Doug (was that the dog’s name?) and Chad. Firstly, the scene where he makes his three best friends sit down and talk. He told them the trutht and admitted that he didn’t like it when the girls didn’t talk with the boys about their feelings. They are all family and have been together for a long time, so they should all talk to each other and not just part of them. This scene was very important for the story I think and one of the most honest, deep and open scenes in any Disney Channel Original movie. The other two scenes are kinda connected. First off, Carlos telling Mal that he didn’t want to go back to the Isle since he connects it to his mother. And secondly, the one little comment about him telling Evie, Jay and Ben that they better be quiet and not make their parents notice they were back on the Isle. These scenes makes you realise that these children really did have a very different life on the Isle and that there is a reason why they like it in Auradon and it gives the character more depth since you realise that he is actually afraid of Cruella de Vil, his mother, something that played a big role in his character development before the “Descendants” storyline and maybe explains why he is became such a great person.
# Jay, in the first movie I totally thought he only played a side role which was sad, so I was really happy when he had a bigger role in this movie (officially he was a main character in both). This time he plays a very big role, at least in my opinion. You not only see him breaking some stereotypes or at least some rules to get a talented girl into the fencing/sword fighting school team although women are not allowed (someone wrote ‘men’ and didn’t think of ‘women’ when writing the rule book for the team rules). But Jay also makes you realise that sometimes what you think is right may not be right for others. Mal doesn’t think she fits into the Auradon world and the others who may not think it perfect to return to the Isle accept that after realising her true feelings. And Jay, after all four of them talk for real, even offers Mal to take her back to the Isle personally if she really wants to. Imo that shows that he really understood, that everyone is different and not everyone feels the same. I loved that scene, definitely one of my favourite.
When watching “Descendants” you always have to know you’re watching a movie for the audience of 10 to 20 or so, I guess. But if you feel young inside and like movies like that (like me) or if you are part of that age group and like Disney Channel movies than “Descendants” is interesting and really good.
“Descendants 2” had A LOT to live up to, really. And in my opinion IT DID. Maybe it even reached higher than my expectations. I really liked it and I wanna watch it again and again. I really enjoyed it and I really hope there is gonna be a third installment.
Now I can put “Descendants” on the list of sequels who are actually better than the prequel…and that list is not very long.
So, check the movie out or if you have no chance too than check out the released performances on youtube or the full soundtrack.
I hope you liked the review…see you soon!