Summer 2019, summer dAze ReTreat, The Cine-Edge

Bigger, Better, Badder: Descendants 3 Discussion

*Sitting in a therapy circle*

“Hi, my name is AlyMarie Fox, I’m 20 years old and I still love Disney Channel.”

“Hi AlyMarie,” everyone in the circle says in unison, using a monotone voice.

Descendants 3 Drawing by AlyMarie Fox
Photo taken by AlyMarie Fox

Okay, so I grew up watching Disney shows since I convinced my parents to get the channel because all of my friends peer-pressured me. To be honest, Disney shows were the only thing I was allowed to watch on TV. Hannah Montana, That’s So Raven, The Suite Life of Zack and Cody, Suite Life on Deck, Wizards of Waverly Place, you name it.

And don’t even get me started on the Disney Channel Original Movies. Hello, High School Musical?! The Cheetah Girls?! Camp Rock?! I remember staying home to watch every single one of their TV premieres.

Not to mention, Kenny Ortega has been a huge part of my childhood and my Disney Channel experience. Not only did he direct all three High School Musical‘s, he directed Hocus Pocus (which was a favourite Halloween movie of mine), and he even directed The Cheetah Girls 2.

And now, he has graced us with his directing superpowers in all three Descendants films.

I was still 14 when Descendants came out. I was supposed to leave my Disney Channel past behind in elementary school, because, you know, I was in high school now. I was a teenager now. Disney Channel was for kids.

Nope. Kenny Ortega, you wickedly brilliant man, you sucked me back into my old Disney Channel habits.

“Disney Movie GIF”
Retrieved from Giphy
No copyright infringement intended

Now, here we are, four years later. Twenty-year-old’s go to clubs on a Friday night. They hang out with their friends, they go out and have fun.

Nope, this one stayed home to watch the premiere of Descendants 3.

And boy was it worth it.

Descendants 3 stars our favourite returning Disney Channel stars, Dove Cameron (from Disney Channel’s TV show Liv and Maddie) as Mal, Sofia Carson (from Disney Channel’s TV movie Adventures in Babysitting) as Evie, China Anne McClain (from Disney Channel’s A.N.T. Farm) as Uma, Booboo Stewart (we first saw him make his Disney Channel debut on Good Luck Charlie as Kai) as Jay and Cameron Boyce (from Disney Channel’s TV show Jessie) as Carlos.

You’ve got your reoccurring stars from the previous Descendants films, such as Mitchell Hope as Ben, Sarah Jeffery as Audrey, Brenna D’Amico as Jane, Jedidiah Goodacre as Chad Charming, Zachary Gibson as Doug, Thomas Doherty as Harry Hook, Dylan Playfair as Gil and Anna Cathcart as Dizzy Tremaine.

Then you’ve got your newest stars: Jadah Marie as Celia, the daughter of Dr. Facilier, the villain in The Princess and The Frog and Cheyenne Jackson as Hades, the villain in Hercules.

In this conclusion to the Descendants trilogy, Mal, Evie, Carlos and Jay have started a program to bring the VK’s (Villain Kids) from the Isle of the Lost to Auradon in order to give them a second chance. But when a new darkness threatens Auradon, Mal must find a way to defeat this evil that no one saw coming while protecting Auradon, which might cost the VK’s their opportunity for a better life.

So let’s start of with a non-spoiler review before I dive into these wicked spoilers:

Bigger, Better …

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No copyright infringement intended

I don’t want to say there was a lot more work put into this one, because the previous ones had just as much work, but there was a lot more detail and complexity. One thing that stood out to me was the visual effects. If you compared the first film to the third one, I’m sure you would see a difference.

The sets were amazing. I felt like this movie had more locations around Auradon so we got to see more beauty and picturesque that this fairy tale had to offer. The costumes, hair and makeup were absolutely gorgeous and colourful. I always look forward to these films because I love seeing how the designers incorporate these famous Disney stories into each outfit. These characters, their stories and their personalities are shown visually in what they wear.

The choreography and dancing was amazing. So was the cinematography. It was visually stunning and entertaining. The music brought it all together, but more on that later.

… Badder

“Bad Lady GIF”
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I can’t get over the villain in this film. When I say no one saw it coming, I mean it. NO ONE! I think it was a really smart and creative move on their part, which I will further explain in the spoiler section.

Wicked Talent

Retrieved from weheartit
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I loved how this movie really brought out and showcased each individual character and the actor’s ability in portraying this character, even the side characters. Each character had a personality that contrasted the other, which made them all stand out and shine in their own spotlight.

Bibbidy Bobbidy Bops

“Cinderella1950 GIF”
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Even the music in this film allowed the actors to show off their vocal talent, which was especially refreshing for those who were given their own song.

And if you’re wondering, the music was just as amazing as the previous films. I thought these songs and the lyrics suited the scene and the characters singing in the film, but the thing I love the most about the music is that you can listen to it on its own and still feel the same tone and emotional impact it had in the film.

I’m currently listening to the album on Spotify as I write this and you can bet I’ll be buying the album as soon as possible.

Started From The Rotten Now We’re Here

“Descendants GIF”
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This film did an amazing job at each of these character’s arc. You can really see a difference between the characters in the first film to who they are now and how they’ve grown up. I don’t know about you but I feel like I’ve grown up with these characters, not just because I grew up with reading the Brother Grimm’s tales or watching the Disney versions, but because the characters in the first film must have been portrayed as young teenagers (14 to 16 maybe?) and now, here they are, taking on more responsibilities and becoming their own person. They’re adulting. Just like I’m supposed to be.

But overall, I really enjoyed seeing how these characters matured. You can tell by their appearance, their actions, their costumes, their relationships with other characters, even through the music.

Something Old, Something New

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No copyright infringement intended

Ortega took all the best parts from Descendants and Descendants 2, then recycled them to be even better in Descendants 3. You might notice some similarities between the music or scenes from the previous films but I personally like intertextual references. I don’t think it was a cop out move, I thought it complimented the film and the previous ones well. It combined these films together and made them more seamless, as if these films were just a chapter in one giant storybook.

I also really enjoyed how this film (as well as the other Descendants movies) made references to the previous Disney fairy tale versions I grew up with. Even though these references were old content, I liked how this film recycled it and used it in a newer context.

I have a weakness for fairy tale retellings (which was why I was drawn to Descendants in the first place) because of how creative people can get by incorporating a universally well-known story and rewriting it to make it their own. This is the reason why I love these references and I WANT to see as many as possible. It’s like a secret or an inside joke that only you and the movie share.

What can I say? This film was the happily ever after we’ve all been waiting for. Everything about it was amazing. It was the perfect send-off to this Descendants trilogy and characters, as well as the perfect tribute to Cameron Boyce, who recently passed away.

My condolences. May he rest in peace.

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No copyright infringement intended

If you want to chat with me, share your thoughts in the comments down below! Have you seen Descendants 3? What were your thoughts on the movie? What was your favourite scene? What’s your favourite song? I could spend hours talking about this movie so I’m just going to leave it at that.

Stay Rotten! (or stick around for the wicked spoilers down below!)

Warning: Spoilers from Descendants 3 will be revealed. Proceed at your own risk.

Spoiler Alert GIF
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***Spoilers starting …***

NOW!

Queen of Mean

Retrieved from “Which Descendants star are you” in Dolly
No copyright infringement intended

Okay, okay, um WOW. First off, I was not expecting the villain to be Audrey?! Honestly, my prediction for this film’s villain was that Celia went to Auradon pretending to be looking for a second chance, but was secretly working for her dad or Uma or someone on the Isle to wreck havoc.

But I like their villain choice MUCH BETTER. That was a huge plot twist that I did not see coming and it made sense with Audrey’s character. I mean she had the motive. Plus, it tied the events of the first film together with this one, as we didn’t see Audrey in the second one.

Considering that she wasn’t in the second one, I’m glad Audrey got a chance to really shine in this one, especially as the villain. Sarah Jeffery did an amazing job as this film’s baddie and oh my God … HER VOICE. I did not know she could sing?! I’m a little disappointed that she never got a chance to sing and show off her beautiful voice in the previous films, but I mean, better late than never, right?

At least this film did her justice and gave her the spotlight she deserved, as well as a unique character arc. I liked how her character emphasized this theme of inclusivity. It doesn’t matter where you come from or who you are; we’re all human and we have the power to choose to be good or bad. Labels don’t define the person we are.

Also, I loved her performance in “Queen of Mean.” That was probably my favourite song and scene from this movie. I still get chills when I listen to the song. Plus, I loved her look when she became evil. She looked absolutely gorgeous and wicked. Special shout-out to the music and hair/makeup/costume department … and the editors and cinematography for creating an amazing scene … and everyone else.

Bibbidy Bobbidy Bops (cont.)

Just want to add here how much I loved hearing Sofia Carson perform a solo called “One Kiss” in Descendants 3. I know she performed her own version of “Rotten to the Core” on the Descendants soundtrack but this was Evie’s song and it was so cute and girly.

I also really enjoyed Ben’s acoustic version of “Did I Mention” when he proposed to Mal. I thought the proposal idea was really smart and creative, especially because it referenced the first film. It was cute and sappy. A perfect fairy tale ending.

Daddy of Death

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No copyright infringement intended

I should have put the pieces together. First the Descendants 3 teaser showed Mal walking to a mysterious blue light and asking, “Dad?”

Then Disney released glimpses of the new characters in the film, which included Hades.

I do wish the other parents were revealed because I would love to see more villains brought to life in this fairy tale retelling and their actor portrayals. I also would have loved to see a cameo of the villains from the first film again, just to see what their reactions are to their grown-up kids and how these villains (hopefully) have changed since the first film.

But anyways, Jackson’s performance as Hades was amazing. I didn’t know he could sing either! His banter-like relationship between Mal was so fun to watch, especially in the “Do What You Gotta Do” number. And even though we’re unsure of the villain parents’ character development from the first film, you definitely saw Hades’ villainous ways change when he saved Audrey and rekindled a father-daughter relationship with Mal. It was nice to see that, even though these characters are villainous and supposed to be bad, they still have a heart.

It also took me a while to realize that Cheyenne Jackson was in American Horror Story (I recently binge-watched all the seasons this summer … stay tuned for that). I’m slow, I know.

Something Old, Something New (cont.)

Did I mention some of the parallels I found between Descendants 3 and the previous films? Well, here they are, just to show how they combined (what I believed to be) the best performances of Descendants and Descendants 2 into Descendants 3. Did you spot any parallels or similarities between the three films?

In Descendants, Mal (Dove Cameron) and her mother, Maleficent (Kristin Chenoweth), performed a Broadway-worthy duo called “Evil Like Me,” where they bonded over their evilness. In Descendants 3, Mal and her father, Hades (Cheyenne Jackson) did a rock-and-roll performance called “Do What You Gotta Do”. In this song, they argued over their differences (and, er, some similarities?).

I liked how these performances gave a contrasting insight to Mal’s relationship with her parents and I just loved the lyrics. This is probably my favourite one:

[Mal:] You were never there
Guess you don’t have a phone
You never called to say “I miss you”

[Hades:] Are you kidding? Is this a joke?
You need to let it go
You’re stronger with those daddy issues”

“Do what you gotta do”, Performed by dove Cameron and Cheyenne Jackson in “Descendants 3”
lyrics retrieved from Disney Clips

In Descendants 2, Uma (China Anne McClain) performed her villainous anthem, “What’s My Name?”, which still remains as one of my all-time favourite songs. As previously mentioned, in Descendants 3, Audrey (Sarah Jeffery) performed her villainous anthem “Queen of Mean”, which I am obsessed with, so I loved that they created another villainous anthem to jam out to.

I love Dove Cameron’s powerful vocals and I’m pretty sure Disney loves them to, which is why she got the turning point performance of “If Only” and “My Once Upon a Time” in Descendants and Descendants 3, respectively. Her powerful voice during these powerful scenes just made these moments all the more raw with emotions and climatic.

And of course we can’t forget those intro and outro songs in every movie. Those intro songs like “Rotten to the Core,” “Ways to be Wicked” and “Good to be Bad” set the tone for the entire film. These musical numbers replaced that “Once Upon A Time” fairy tale statement by opening with a catchy beat and exciting choreography that attracted viewers, no doubt gluing their eyes to the screen for the duration of the film.

In addition, the outro songs like “Set it Off,” “You and Me” and “Break This Down” did not disappoint. It promised viewers the same excitement and entertainment as the film came to a closing, sending these characters off with that anticipated happily ever after.

I’ve always looked forward to these musical numbers because they start and finish the movie off with a bang.

M.L.I.I.A (Missing Love Interest In Action)

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I noticed that Lonnie was missing and I’m upset (that’s actually an understatement) that she wasn’t in this movie! I was really hoping to see her and Jay’s relationship blossom … though, in this film, it appeared that Jay and Gil might be an item. I’m totally for gay characters, Jay and Gil’s interaction was so cute, but I thought Harry and Gil would become a thing, unless Harry and Uma are supposed to be a thing … or Harry and Audrey? I’m a little confused as to who Harry’s supposed to end up with.

Just tell me who to ship and I’m on board!

Auradon and VK’s UNITE

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So I don’t know about you guys, but I kind of felt like there was a political statement made about the segregation between Auradon and the Isle and how they put their labels and differences aside. I’m not going to go too much into it but if this was intentional, I thought they handled the subject matter very well for a younger audience. It was subtle enough that it didn’t overwhelm or take away from the entertaining quality that this film provided.

And if it wasn’t intentional, then I guess my adult brain was overthinking a kid’s movie.

***Spoilers ending …***

HERE!

Again, if you want to chat with me, share your thoughts in the comments down below! Have you seen Descendants 3? What were your thoughts on the movie? What was your favourite scene? What’s your favourite song?

Stay Rotten!

5 thoughts on “Bigger, Better, Badder: Descendants 3 Discussion”

    1. You were so spot on with Hades! I’m so bad at predicting these things lol. I’m really curious to know who Evie’s father is though, because I think it would be cool if Evie and Mal shared the same blood. They ACT like sisters so they might as well BE sisters.

      Ahhhhhh!!!! The songs are amazing!!!! I already bought the new soundtrack!

      I thought about doing a post where I rank all the songs from all three movies … we’ll see if that happens, but those two songs would definitely be high up there!

      Thank you so much for your response!

      -A

      Liked by 1 person

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