They got all the ways to be wickedly overlong
Hello, Spongey Here.
It’s Disney Channel Movie time again! This year I plan to cover a fair amount in some way because I have…quite a few to go. That and my interest in doing more went up thanks to a certain Mr. Walker.
And yes, he had interesting opinions on certain ones I’ve done but he liked AT2D as all is forgiven. Anyway, let me take you back to 2016 when I reviewed Descendants.
This was Disney’s attempt to cash in to pretty much modernize their classic character by giving some classic Disney villains kids. It was okay. It had some interesting/cool parts and some pretty cringe worthy moments but as a whole it was just Average.
Certainly not the worth ever like a lot of people think but I’m used to disagree with people on Disney Channel stuff. Disney puts of money into letting you know this was a fun so of course it got a sequel last year.
I was glad when it finally airs…because Disney went to the Illumination School of Over-Advertising. Seriously, I couldn’t turn a corner without seeing an ad for this and it’s various spin offs like Books, that animated short series and the merch.
That and they seem to find any excuse to re-air this. It’s the DCOM version of Teen Titans Go, I swear.
That pretty much guaranteed this would be a hit and it was. The director and writers are the same, although I never mentioned the writers work before. Their only notable credit is Additional Materiel for…Chicken Little. Huh.
But with all that aside, how is this sequel? Is it an improvement like I hoped it would be, or does it sink even lower?
This, is Descendants 2
The movie opens kind of like how the first one did. But here they skip the exposition and get straight to the villain kids singing about how evil they are. Yes, this turns out to be not be happening but we’ll get to that in a sec.
This opening song is Ways to be Wicked which is actually my favorite song in the movie. Yeah, they’re kind of blowing their load on this one. It’s pretty much a better version of Rotten to the Core as it has a more enjoyable sound and uses the characters a bit better.
Although I do enjoy the music video a lot more than the movie version, it’s better edited and the clips made for the video fit better than most of the clips from the movie version for some reason.
After about 3 minutes of that, it all turns out to be some weird vision thing Mal had. There’s no real explanation for why she had a vision thing that elaborate. It’s honestly pretty pointless, which is not good for you big opening number.
Anyway, we are reintroduced to Mal who is being hounded by press asking her tons of questions. At this point she’s fully good and as you can see, getting pretty popular. She’s even blond now for some reason.
She goes to her room with Evie where we get exposition about what has happened. We also get Mal somewhat reminiscing about the old days of being evil,
Because the writers know her dilemma of dealing with her past is easily the most interesting part of this premise. Evie gets her down to earth to now and can I just say these 2 have a far better chemistry than any of the actual romances of this franchise?
We’ll talk more about that later.
The kids get together and we begin Carlos’ subplot by showing he has a crush on some girl and he wants to ask her out. It’s not too much of a subplot, but trust me, there’s plenty of half baked subplots to go around.
Oh and Evie has a love interest too. Even I forget cuz he doesn’t do too much here. Speaking of forced love interests, Ben starts spoiling her a bit, like giving her a purple Motorcycle.
“Do you like it?”
“Does an Ogre like cheese puffs?”
….I don’t know. Is it a thing? Was Shrek really into Cheese Puffs all along?
We begin Jay’s subplot with him in fencing class. It’s a mostly male class so of course some aren’t happy when the very female Lonnie asks to join, right after showing her skills
Yep, we’re doing that cliche that I thought died in the 90’s were a girl must prove she’s just as awesome as the boys.
KNUCKLES: Anytime someone calls attention to the breaking of gender roles, it ultimately undermines the concept of gender equality by implying that this is an exception and not the status quo.
Okay, this isn’t the worst use of it but it is largely pointless. Carlos is there so we can forward his plot where he say he can talk to the girl well enough, so he’s made some progress at least.
We get back to Mal as she is being even more overwhelmed by all this attention…but we get sidetracked again as Carlos asks for a potion that will make him declare his true feelings to his girl.
…And then Carlos dog takes a random potion and starts talking, And he’s voiced by Panda from We Bare Bears. …Yep. We have a talking dog, For…reasons. He is entirely pointless.
Because we needed more Dog with a Blog humor?
On that abrupt note, we cut to the Isle where we meet our villains, a whole bunch of Pirates lead by Uma, played by China Anne McClain. It’s nice to see her again at least.
Oh and she’s the daughter of Ursula, which raises more of those lovely questions no one likes to think about. Also, it’s odd that she’s playing a different character then she played in Wicked World, guess they aren’t canon.
Through some bad exposition, we find out Uma is mat at Mal for not letting her in their crew as kids so her new fame isn’t sitting with her.
“Son of Hook, son of Gaston, and me, most of all, daughter of Ursula!”
Christ almighty, this is clunky. I was going to comment on on her motivation but that distracted me.
Also Gaston is the first character where having a kid is believable in any way.
Speaking of distraction, we jump into her villain song: What’s my Name. It’s…okay. I know that’s odd coming from me but hear me. It’s fun and all but way too processed for my liking. Ways to be Wicked sounded better and it wasn’t even the real villain song.
But when I get past that, the actors do bring this one up because of how much they throw into it. Just wish the song was a tad better. Anyway, Ursula then gets her only line off screen and apparently that line was provided by Whoppi Goldberg.
After that random bit, we get a “Romantic” scene with Ben and Mal as they enjoy a meal Mal mad. But whoops, Ben finds out she made it with magic. She’s been using that spell book for almost everything, actually.
I get why he gets angry here. Although I do wonder if these can have a relationship without any dumb issues. But given it started with a love potion plot, I’m not surprised.
They argue and Mal pours her heart about how this whole lifestyle is overwhelming her which is a sort of nice moment after the contrived set up of this scene.
She runs off and decides to run all the way back to the Isle of the Lost. Side note, love the use of the Rotten to the Core instrumental here.
Evie finds out via a note she left (which is pretty much inviting them to chase you but okay) and tells Ben who regrets getting angry. I like Evie’s concern here, it’s pulled off better than Ben’s, somehow.
But overall these small moments work better than any of the loud stuff. Mal hits a dye shop where we here …a song from Wicked World song playing in the background. …So it is Canon? I’m confused.
The shop is owned by Lady Trermaine by the way. We even meet her grand daughter who is this spunky kid that doesn’t do much. It’s all just a long winded way for her to get her purple hair back, in a new hairstyle I’m mixed about.
One of Uma’s minions comes in and oh boy is this guy hamming it. I love it. I only recapped this part just to mention that. The other kids head out to get Mal back.
“Last thing we need is our parents figuring out we’re here”
That won’t be an issue given this is the only time they are mentioned. Seriously, they are all just gone with no explanation. Even Lizard Malifecent is shown once and that’s it. Lame.
Ben of course is in disguise as a villain kid and has to pretend to be evil. This minor point is apparently worthy of an entire musical number called “Chillin’ like a Villain”. Yeah, this song is largely pointless…but I do kind of enjoy it so I won’t complain too much.
After the song, we find out Ben’s disguise is so bad that even Gaston’s Son can see right through it. Thankfully he’s too silly to be mad right away so the kids just walk away so Ben can confront Mal.
Ben apologizes but Mal still feels like she doesn’t in the real world and the resulting scene is nice, if a bit overblown as you’d expect. To make matters worse, Harry Hook shows up and captures Ben off screen.
We’ve already got the love interest being kidnapped cliche, just with a male. Please don’t rub that in our faces like Enchanted did, which is otherwise a movie I’d rather be watching.
Mal is not happy and I kinda love reaction here. It’s like “Damn it guys, now I gotta go save him”. And Uma informed her to come alone. She does so and confronts Uma and this results in…arm wrestling.
Oh man, this movie is so epic.
Actually I joke, but this almost becomes intense because of how seriously they both take it, especially Mal. She loses so that scene was more or less pointless. If they want Ben back they have to bring her Fairy Godmother’s Magic Wand./
Which is what they were trying to get in the first movie. Well, it only took 51 minutes to start fully rehashing plot elements at least.
Their plan is to simply make a fake one and get out of there before Uma notices. Nice to see some intelligence here. Jay and Carlos go back to Auradon to take care of that while Mal and Evie do some stuff here.
There’s a bit where they visit Dizzy and it’s honestly kind of cute with how she and Evie bond. It also gives Mal and Evie the chance to talk things out a bit, which is again a bit nice.
And so then they share a love song. Okay, nah. They have a duet about their feelings, which shows various clips of them together the first movie, and their faces get very close together in a few points.
Totally nothing at all like a love song. Okay, all jokes aside,I legit believe these two work far better than Mal and Ben, even in the context of the franchise. I mean think about. Ben and Mal have been rocky since the start and especially in this movie.
Meanwhile, Mal and Evie are supposed to have a friendship but are somehow even closer together. They have tons of moments together, most of which are done well enough.
And even before this, they had a song together in Wicked World, although that was less love-y than this one. They’d had two duets together while Mal and Ben have had exactly.
I think that about says it all. It’s a major Relationship Writing Fumble…but I’m not complaining since their “friendship” is actually somewhat well done even taking aside my jokes.
Oh and the song is fine. …Moving on.
The boys finish making the fake wand and are about to leave when the girl from Jay’s subplot shows up. Bet you forgot about her from like an hour ago. She overheard them talking about their plan and wants to join.
At least she is directly involved with the main story but it’s preeety forced. The next morning, Ben and Uma talk a bit as we humanized her a bit more. She’s upset that she and many others weren’t brought to Auradon. The plan was to bring more people after the 4 but whoops, that didn’t happen.
This actually does make sense in the context of the series, and is fairly decent motivation for a villain. Nothing too complex or anything but passable. So with that the kids arrive for our climax.
Which of course leads to a song…which begins with a rap battle. Yes. Evie is probably having war flashbacks from this. The song itself is pretty messy with how it tries to mix in the Rapping Verses and non Rapping Chorus. There’s some neat parts but overall just a bit odd and messy.
Sorta like this franchise.
After that, Uma wants Mal to test the wand to see if it works. Oh crap, didn’t count on her being smart! She actually does manage to fool her…thanks to the talking dog. But she finds out the truth right after so yay the dog is still pointless.
This leads into the actual big fight which is neat but goes on for too long. And boy do I mean it. It seems to go on forever! But after what feels like 50 years, it finally ends with the kids and Ben escaping.
Okay then, that was our climax so we should be wrapping up, right? ….Nope, we’ve got like like 20 plus minutes left. I am not kidding. It went on for that long and we’re STILL not done.
Needless to say, this is where I got antsy. They go home where Carlos and Jay finally speak about getting nothing to do these movies. Seriously, Carlos reads my mind and points out that the boys tend to get left out.
It’s perhaps a bit too little too late but it does give us a nice moment where they talk about their roots and yada yada. It doesn’t fix Carlos issues as nothing here relates directly to the boys, just how Mal and Evie took all this…but I appreciate the effort?
Speaking of the boys, we finish Jay’s subplot with the team letting in Lonnie. I should have mentioned that was willingly to let her in and it was Chad here who had issues. So Jay pretty much learned nothing and this was resolved very quickly despite taking an hour.
We then finish Carlos’ with him asking out Jane, which took him very little effort. At least this was character driven but it’s still another rushed subplot.
With that settled, we get to this big Cotillion thing. Ben shows up…with Uma. He’s being controlled by a love potion of some kind. Even when I first watched this,I called it.
So everything before that is revealed is just wasting our more time more than all this already is. And things for on for quite some time until eventually some pretty gift he made earlier proves he was in true love with Mal thus revealing the Uma love is fake-and oh who cares, just end!
Mal confesses her love and a kiss makes him normal again. Uma responds by jumping in the water (Good thing this happens to be on a boat) and pretty becomes Ursula.
This prompts Mal to turn ito the CGI form of her Mom to fight her. Okay, now THIS is a climax! The CG still isn’t great but at least this is somewhat cool. Ben jumps in and tries to plead with Uma to stop this.
She responds by….leaving. That’s right, there wasn’t even a climax there. We wasted all that time after the first climax for this. Boo. I mean seriously, can you say most easily swayed villain ever?
They just kind of move on after that. They care about what happened as much as I do. Ben does agree to starting letting more kids in, like Dizzy so there’s that. Also, Mal won’t use the spell book anymore because that’s enough plot point I forgot.
And so we jump right out finale song: You and Me. It’s a kinda slow and not that memorable song. Perfect for a Dance Party Ending. Set it Off was better. Good choreography in it though.
And right when the song ends, the credits roll but they keep dancing. Then there’s a Mid Credits scene because they went to the Sandy Wexler school of ending a movie.
It has a bit with Dizzy and then it cuts to Uma looking at us.
“What? You didn’t think this was the end of the story…did you?’
After the incredibly blatant cliffhanger with you, I did not. And wow is this the most shameful sequel baiting I’ve seen in a long time.
Okay, now we’re done. Geez.
It’s sad that the main review had to end with me being so grumpy because for the most part I will say that this was better on a 2nd viewing. Thanks to the problems it didn’t become Good but I did get into certain things more.
It had way less of the cringe-y stuff and they do clearly try harder to give us development and all that good stuff. I actually did get into some of the smaller scenes this time around, even if we get too much of it near the end.
The problems are some of the same ones, like how Jay and Carlos get very little to do and just generally having too much going. I get why some subplots need to be there but most are pointless
It just all goes on too long and I’m starting to think this would have all worked better as a full cartoon series, so then they’d have time to flesh a lot of this out. Wicked World only fixes a few of my issues.
Oh and the songs are fine but all of them are processed in some way, so none are as good as Evil like Me was. Then have the 3rd which goes on too long and ends on quite the lame note.
We all know there’s going to be a 3rd one, why the lame cliffhanger? It was clear from the start this was all a cash grab but parts of this made it more blatant. Which is too bad as they are almost on to something here.
Next time, focus more on the small development moments and less on setting up 50 other stories. That’s all I got. It’s much better with some nice moments but this series has a lot to work on.
Hopefully the 3rd one can improve on this one, but I guess we;ll see.
In the meantime, we have Zombies which looks like this meets Warm Bodies. Can’t wait.
Okay, that’s enough of 2017. Next time we go back a bit for a movie that’s a lot worse than the ones we’ve covered so far. Should be fun.