Hello, Spongey here.
Man am I relived I’m finally here to review this thing. I’ve mentioned my rule on DCOM’s and how I wait til they pop up on Netflix to review them, as they pop up as just the right time. But this one STILL isn’t up as of February 2016, and the film aired in August or so of last year.
At this point, I was fed up and decided to just do it now. I mean, TV Trash and Shark Jumping already beat me to it, that’s how behind I am!
Let’s finally just do this thing. When it comes to DCOM’s, this is one of the biggest in a while, mostly because Disney pushed it so hard. Seriously, there was tons of merch, they advertised it to high heaven, it aired a lot, and they even made a short form series of it to air during commercials.
They pushed this thing hard, because people loved it when they did that with Frozen, right? Given the subject matter, it’s no shock they were riding a lot on this one. It got more publicity from the general public, which means tons of whining.
People were acting like this is the worst thing ever, like with all DCOM’S but they were treating it worse than usual, even though the film itself is pretty much like any DCOM at heart. The mindless side of Disney Channel rating has always been kind of dumb but this brought it all back full force.
Remember that age of people hating on people like Jonas Brothers way more than they should, to the point of being immature? You know how we look down on these people now, especially with the Justin Beiber stuff?
Those days are still around, yet it’s somehow still accepted to be like that. Anyway, back on topic, the basic concept of this would be franchise is that it’s about the kids of famous Disney characters, most notably the villains.
An interesting concept to be sure, but right away it has it’s issues which we’ll get into. But it’s certainly a great idea for a monkey maker, which is why it was a bug enough hit for them to milk.
I think it should have been a TV Show, due some of the flaws I will get into, which is why the short form series is doing okay, but I’ll say more at the end. If you ask me, there’s no better director for this big epic than the man behind the High School Musical trilogy.
It is a perfect match for what is pretty much HSM meets Once Upon a Time/Ever After High. The writers have done nothing. I say we stop messing around and dive in, because there’s plenty to cover and I just want this damn this done.
This, is Descendants
The movie opens with narration telling us the backstory. Belle and the Beast got married and unified the world, which meant banishing all the villains to the Isle of the Lost. Let me guess say right now that the world of this movie is really confusing.
I mean, we’ll see that Jafar now lives at the same time as Cruella De Vil. See the problem here? Is this some other universe were things are weird? Is this the past or present day? I don’t know, not a lot of it is set up very well.
Before we can meet the narrator, we join Belle and Beast’s son.
“How is it possible you’re gonna be crowned king next month?”
Not even gonna pull it out.
“I didn’t make a good decision until I was 42”
“You married me at 28”
“Well it was either you for a teapot”
Hardy har har?
As his first proclamation, he says the children of the Isle should be given a chance to live in Auradon. That’s a bit rushed. Shouldn’t we need a few more scenes of set up before we decided these kids need a chance or something?
He’s already picked the children.
“Who are the parents?”
“Cruella Devil, Jafar, Evil Queen, and Maleficent
- Does Evil Queen actually has a name? Because Disney has a lot of Evil Queens, you need to more specific. Heck, she’s not even queen anymore so the name doesn’t even fit!
- Let’s get this out of the way: I have no idea who in their right mind would….do it with these people in order to have these kids. Jafar and Maleficent at least might have some kind of magic to do it, but the others …not so much. Especially Cruella, who the hell would tap that?
They do go a bit overboard with the characters who have kids later on. Heck, the Wicked World shorts introduce the daughter of Doctor Falciler. Yeah, I’m willing to ignore that some of these villains should be dead, because this kind of an AU but that stuff is just…weird.
After like a second, they decided to give the kids a shot since they shouldn’t be really punished for their parents actions. With that, we are introduced to the kids via our first song.
Yep, this is kind of a musical and I will say that the songs are hit and miss, and this one kind of sums it up. It’s called “Rotten to the Core” and it’s pretty much the kids vilain song, and it’s kind of enjoyably in that way but it’s also got a really messy modern-ized beat that just sounds….off.
It kind of fits the tone but it’s still odd. I actually prefer the Sofia Carson version for that reason. Speaking of which, let’s look at the kids. First is Mal, daughter of Maflfiencey played by Dove Cameron, then there’s Jay, son of Jafar played by the guy from the Haunting Hour episode Pool Shark, then we have Evie daughter of Evil Queen, played by Sofia Carson, and finally we’ve got Carlos, played by Cameron Boyce.
I think the casting is mostly good, but Cameron Boyce looks a bit too young for the character he’s given, made more obvious by how jarringly different his design in the Wicked Shorts is. You’ll see how the actual characters are in a bit.
After the song, we are properly ( introduced to Maleficent, played by Kristen Chenoweth. She is easily the best part of the movie, and you can tell she’s having a lot of fun with this role. I haven’t seen the movie Maleficent (‘I’m told I’m not missing much), but I hear she’s actually a bit than Jolie was in that one.
She’s pretty much the main villain, with the other villains just being there. The kids are told of the Auradon deal, and while the kids are a bit mixed on the idea, Maleficent thinks it’s perfect for their world domination plan.
Yeah, I think maybe they could have thought for a second that maybe they needed to take measures before just sending the kids, so that this doesn’t happen. The plan is to get the Fairy Godmother’s Magic wind so they can do evil things with it.
You can tell what the main arc is gonna be and to be fair, there’s nothing wrong with that in theory, we’ll just see that the writing of it isn’t always the best. I swear this review is fair it’s just that it;’s DCOM so the flaws make it “good”.
We see a bit of the other villains, and they are cool too, just not as notable as Maleficent. After a bit more set up, the kids are ready to go. Yeah, see what I mean? WE don’t get a lot of time to know much before the plot starts even though they leave 12 or so minutes in.
This movie is way longer than it needs to be, that shouldn’t be a problem. Although we at least get a sense of their characters: Mal is the one one who has to live up to her mother’s Legacy, Evie is the Fashion diva, Jay is….tough, and Carlos is a pussy. For most of them, that is the extent of their characters.
After a limo ride, the kids arrive at Auradon Prep, and meet the Head Mistress, Fairy Godmother.
“As in, Bippity boppity boo?’
Thanks for spelling it out for us. The kids also meet Ben, who has a bitch-y girlfriend which means someone, likely Mal, will hook up with him. Told you this is still a DCOM.
“My Mom’s Aurora. Sleeping Beauty!”
Again, we know her nickname. At least she has an excuse to be apprehensive about Mal.
Don’t worry, those kind of modern references are toned down once the movie gets going. Except for the most painful thing ever, but that’s way later.
“Most of us happen to be ordinary mortals”
“Who happen to be Kings and Queens”
It’s clear they put a lot more effort into making Mal likable than the others. I’m sure her actress has nothing to do with that. Ben leaves them in the hands of Doug, son of Dopey. Come in, they need kids too?
“Dopey, as in Doc, Bashful, Happy, Grumpy Sleepy…”
Stop telling us things we already know! Also, Doug likes Evie.
Get it, that’s a thing they said! Although I do get it, she is easily the hottest. Sofia Carson is like 22 something, don’t worry. They go to their dorms, and we see Cameron Boyce’s character playing a video game. Hardy har.
Actually, the game he’/s playing happens to be Hero Rising, which is from the Disney XD series Aaron Stone. Yes, really. This raises so many questions it’s not even funny. So we’ll just move on.
The kids gather to plot to take the wand they need. Yeah, they’re gonna try to jeopardize what little good will they have right away instead of taking time to come up with a complex plan. Great idea.
That night they go to the museum where the wand is being held. They use magic to take out the only guard (you think a place holding a wand would have way more) but see that the wand isn’t in the rooms they search.
Most of them head off but Mal stays behind to partake in a song. Doesn’t seem like th best time, but okay. It starts with her just singing about her Mommy troubles, and it’s just there. …Until Maleficent inexplicably pops up.
I don’t get it either. Is this a hologram, is she somehow making it here or what? Either way, she’s here to give us the villain song! Yep, we needed at least one and and here she just tells Mal to perk up and be “Evil like me”.
It’s easily the best song in the movie, it’s over the top in the best way, being really enjoyable. It’s also one of the few that isn’t too modernized, so it works. …But it’s also really randomly with not much build up and after it happens, so one ever mentions it again.
Not saying it. They find the wand and Jay, being the genius tries to take it and activities the alarm. What did you think was gonna happen?! Anyway, they escape and it turns out this was all so they can spend the time between now and the climax planning to get the wand. Eh, I’ve seen other films do this so I can let it slide.
The next day during class they meet Jane, daughter of the Fairy Godmother who I think it somewhat important due to the wand thing. We get a sports scene with Jay so we can pretend he’s important, then Mal talks to Jane in order to get her on her side.
Not a ton to report on here, this is just one of the dull spots we gotta get through to get the …good stuff. We get a few more filler bits to show off our characters, like a part with Carlos learning that dogs are not monsters
That’s the end of his arc. Really.
Evie finds herself a nice boy with Cinderella’s son and we find out Ben’s Coronation, which will be the setting of our third act. The wand will be involved because of course it will. The girls hang out later and we meet the daughter of Mulan.
At this rate we’ll be seeing the son of Gaston, the daughter of Ursula, or the son of Scar. You know they’d somehow do the last one. Although I would kill to see Gaston in this franchise. All that happens is that they give Lani a magic haircut because eh, why not.
“Now I’m cool”
Sorry, but you wlll never be as cool as Vanilla Ice. After more filer, Ben pops up and tells them they sadly can’t be in the front row at the coronation as it will just be him, his folks, and his girlfriend.
With that knowledge, Mal decides the best way to fix this is become his girlfriend with a love spell. Huh, I found something romantic for February after all. This is an example a mixed attempt at this plot, by the way.
They make their love potion and later on Ben’s girl is heard complaining about Mal’s magic haircut, calling it Gateway magic. You know, for kids. Oh, an as the Alpha Bitch, she’s just okay. Enjoyable but barely does anything.
I guess we have enough amazing villains as it is. Mal gives him the love potion through some cookies and it works right away. We’ll deal with the results that in a second, first we need bits of a big sports game.
I think they win but I could care less about any kind of spots. By the way, we are now an hour in and we’ve been too much filler for it to be this point. Yeah, this DCOM happens to be a longer one and as I keep saying, a long length makes filler worse.
Ben interrupts their celebration to say something important. And by that I mean proclaim his love to everyone, making things awkward. He loves her so much, he’s going to sing about it! …Yeah, this is one of the more random songs but I suppose it has a tiny bit of purpose. “Did I mention” is fun. Nothing amazing but it has an edge to it I kind of like.
For some reason, only Audrey finds any of this weird. Yeah a guy randomly sings about loving someone for no reason, nothing weird about that. Meanwhile, real romance is blooming with Evie and Doug which spoilers, doesn’t add up to much.
Ben asks Mal on a date and after a pep talk from Evie she goes out. We get some “romantic” moments between the two, which shows that he is starting to like her for real even without the love potion.
They at least come close to getting rid of the implications of them getting together she slips him a love potion, but it’s still…weird.
“Is this your first time?”
…I’m not touching that one.
While he goes for a swim, Mal breaks into the obligatory love song. It’s alright. Pretty typical but it gets Dove her song, so I’m fine with it. After slight filler, the kids have a webcam chat with their parents in class.
This exists to give us more of the best part of the movie, and inform the parents about Coronation and the wand. That night they plan for their final assault, and Mal sings some more. It’s a tiny part so I won’t comment on it.
But I wlll comment on the next scene as we cut to Family Day. We get the only part of the movie I’d call painful: The hip hop-y remix of Be Our Guest. I am not kidding. There’s been modern stuff but they’ve keep it a bit light for the most part.
Then there’s this. It’s the most painful attempt at being hip I’ve seen in a long time, as well as the whitest thing ever. The other flaws are just meh, while this is just….ugh. Who thought this was a good idea?!
At least it’s over quickly. Ben introduces Mal to his parents and they have mixed feelings for obvious reasons. I get it, Belle couldn’t all sympathize with falling love with someone who seemed really evil.
Mal bumps into Audrey’s Grandmother.
“How are you here?”!
…Did she not get the memo about the evil kids? This is just a contrived way for the kids to lose their goodwill becomes…someone remembered their parents are kind of evil, I guess.
The kids act out a bit, because that won’t just confirm their doubts or anything.
‘Forget about it, Let It Go”
A Disney product will never tell me to do that!
After we see that even Disney Channel can making marching in a straight line awesome, we finally cut to the big day. The evil parents watch this live to give us funny commentary.
“I want that wand!”
“You do? I hadn’t heard”
Mal cooks up an Anti-Love Potion for after the attack so he won’t be hurt to see her turn bad, but he accidentally takes it by mistake. But..
‘Let’s wait a few minutes for the Anti Love potion to take effect’
That’s right, he knew because the spell washed away during his swim. But of course he got a connection with her which is why he didn’t say anything. Yep, he’s got no problems with her slipping him a love potion of anything like that because he happens to like her now.
It’s not the worst take on this plot, but it’s kind of weak with that reveal. And I’m pretty sure it doesn’t lead to that much, they could have fallen love more naturally with this plot device.
The ceremony begins and Mal takes the wand at the first change we get. Okay, time for all the arcs to come full circle as interesting things happen!
“Gimme the wand’
Mal says she is doing this due to her Mommy and Ben says she has her own choice.
“I think I want to be good”
Yep, after a pretty short speech, she decides they are not their parents, with the others agreeing. For all the build up, this is a bit rushed. Mal’s development is at least there, the others just kind of change here are a couple scenes of them being okay earlier.
Either way, it’s slightly nice to see them learn their lesson. This isn’t a happy moment though, because taking the wand kind of friend the villains and they are coming here. Well, the arcs are done time for mindless action!
Maleficent comes in bad CGI smoke to chew more scenery and do other evil shit. Mal finally stands up to her mother and repeats the moral. In return, she becomes a big CGI dragon. As weak as the effect, it’s awesomely ambitious for a DCOM to try big effects, and I’ve seen far worse.
With that they learned in mind, the kids band together and chant some words….which turns Maleficent into a small lizard. Yep, that’s our climax. I’m both disappointed and not chocked at all. They say she shrank to the size of the love in her heart. She must have some love if she’s not flat out microscopic.
At least she didn’t turn good, or anything like that. I guess one movie ruining her character was enough for them. Everyone just kind of bounces back after that and is happy. They just buy the kids’ face feel turn without hesitant. Fine, let’s just finish this with a DANCE PARTY ENDING!
This involves out final song, Set It Off. It’s…okay. Kind of forgettable for a finale song, especially compared to High School Musical. I think “Good is the new bad”, featured in a Wicked World short is a better finale song than this.
I’m just saying it could have done a better job of leaving things on a nice note to make up for the rushed ending. Mal narrates to us to finish things off for good.
“You didn’t think this was the end of the story, did you?”
Given how Disney is, I did not think so at all. And after an Hour and 50 minutes (Yes, a DCOM actually comes close to being 2 hours) the film ends. Yep, a rushed endings and one of the weaker ones.
Still not the worst Dove Cameron rushed ending, but still weak. It tries at least, but it could have been way better.
That was okay. Yeah, with all the hubbub over it, it’s mostly just okay. It’s like most DCOM’s with the writing and the good parts coming from ideas and charm. I guess that’s disappointing to some, but I imagine the people who hated it the most wanted to hate it.
But I’ll discuss that effect more if I review Jem. Anyway, I’ll start with them more negative aspects. I think this one bites off more than it can chew, as it has too many small subplots and characters.
A lot of it just adds up to nothing and only Mal has any semi believable development. Evie has some cute scenes but that’s as good as it gets with the others. The writing can be fairly sloppy in that way, and the film is a bit too long and has some filler.
Oh, and the Be Our Guest thing is still bad.
With all that said, you can still tell they tried their hardest with this. The production value is decent with good sets and costumes, and it does have some heart. The moral is nice and they clearly tried to some good things here.
Most of the characters are at least tolerable, and the acting is mostly decent too, with Kristen Chenoweth being the standout. While most of the songs are meh, Evil Like Me is good enough to save the soundtrack.
They had a lot of fun making this film and you can certainty see that. It is kind of disappointing that is just Average given how big it is and how much they advertised it, but it was a huge hit so it kind of payed off.
As a whole, it’s another fine DCOM that becomes a Guilty Pleasure due to it’s dumb-ness. Not what I really wanted, but exactly what I expected. Oh, and it’s not an insult to Disney a think, since they clearly tried to be faithful, despite the Be Our Guest shit.
It’s fine. That sums it up in the end. Now as for the Wicked World shorts, they are fine too. The format allows for the characters to stand out a bit more and the animation is pretty decent. I think this could have been a TV Show to begin with, since this almost feels like a pilot with how the characters are written.
Oh, and Phineas and Ferb writer Aliki happened to be a director on them. That’s cool too.
I’m just glad to be finally done with this. It was fun to review but I was tired of waiting. We go back to requests next time, with something even I know nothing about it.