Ben, son of Belle and the once selfish beast, is poised to become next on the throne, however he is not ready and allows the villan kids from the Isle Of The Lost to attend Auradon Prep. ... See full summary »
Liv, a popular television star whose show has just finished its run, and Maddie, an outstanding student and school basketball star whose popularity is on the rise until Liv makes a return to their high school.
Tenzing Norgay Trainor
When the pressure to be royally perfect becomes too much for Mal, she returns to her rotten roots on the Isle of the Lost where her archenemy Uma, the daughter of Ursula from The Little Mermaid, has taken her spot as self-proclaimed queen of the run-down town. Uma, still resentful over not being selected by Ben to go to Auradon Prep with the other Villain Kids, stirs her pirate gang including Captain Hook's son Harry and Gaston's son Gil, to break the barrier between the Isle of the Lost and Auradon, and unleash all the villains imprisoned on the Isle once and for all. Written by
Villain Kids: In most movies, the story is only as good as the antagonists to fight and in this case Uma (China Anne McClain) is an improvement over last movie's band of baddies. Descendants one tried to reinstate the classic baddies, with subpar casting and actors who semi looked the part. The direction of the movie though put the kids in the forefront and the villains in the back, resulting in rather boring/cheesy performances. With the kids being the focus, the new villain of Uma gets the focus and development needed, and her malicious planning are nice qualities. Her second in command Harry Hook (Thomas Doherty) is the enforcer who has some mad skills to bring to the table and actually does something to up the ante in a rather calm series. With kids at the focus, the doors open wide for more adventure at hand.
The Story: The first movie did a nice job introducing all the relationships of the world while embedding it in plots of doing villains' bidding, but also battling yourself when morals conflict. Yet the story was very simple and lacked the kick that it needed to be fully entertaining. Descendants 2 was a step up, building on those relationships and using them to tell a new story that involved exploring more of the isle. The added "suspense" was again a step in the right direction, and the increased urgency only brought more suspense to the mix.
The Songs: By far my favorite component was the soundtrack. After seeing Descendants a thousand times over the last two years, I made my list and found only a couple of songs I found timeless. In this installment, the five out of six tracks will most likely be coming to my Ipod. The dance numbers were much better for me and they fit very well into the theme of the movie instead of just being jammed in at random intervals ( see Evil Like Me and Ridiculous). The new soundtrack has edge and really kicks up the beat. Nice improvements guys.
Dropped plot elements: If you haven't followed the animated shorts and accompanying books, then this won't affect you. However, the super fanbase will note other characters missing from Auradon's halls. Many characters are absent in this film, and even those from the first film have been reduced to back burner secondary appearances with little involvement in the main plot. Audrey, Jane, even Doug are not nearly as involved, most likely to give the newbies more screen time. Unfortunately
New elements lacking: Outside of Uma and maybe Harry, many of the new characters are also reduced to smaller roles than I anticipated. Newcomers Dizzy (Anna Cathcart) and Gil (Dylan Playfair) have been the highlights of the recent advertising campaign, but sadly don't do much in this film. In addition, many of the dramatic buildups, foreshadowing, and magic are actually played less than I originally thought. Guess dancing and sword fighting are more important than complete plots. One warning I have for future installments is to not grow so big to drop other characters, or face the threat of devouring yourself by inconsistencies.
Rushed Plot: Descendants holds a lot of potential to be an epic tale, and that first book by De La Cruz was an epic introduction filled with that potential. The movies unfortunately have lost that balance and go for the rather rushed conclusions that make many DCOMs lacking. Number 2 did not improve on this element, but worsened as they tried to shove too many plots into the short run-time. Much of the conflict is dropped quickly, the tasks and trials are rapidly completed, and new elements are haphazardly dropped without any buildup or heat. I know they are shooting for time constraints, but with something this big you can take your time and go a little longer. Younger audiences won't care about this, but older ones like me would appreciate a little more dramatic play ups. In addition, don't set up potential plots and drop them like a bad habit (see Chad Charming subplot). That incomplete presentation is a little disappointing with legendary directors in the mix.
Anti-climatic ending: I know, this is a movie geared for younger generations, we can't have too violent of a fight. The sword fight did a decent job of bringing the appropriate action especially the tangle between Harry and Jay (Booboo Stewart). However, another struggle at the end showed off some semi-decent computer work in a very bland manner. I can't reveal much more, but an epic tangle could have come in that wasn't so abruptly stopped. Kids watch lion King, Aladdin, and Incredibles, they can handle more than G rated punches. Add some "fire" to the mix, or throw in some close calls to mix things up and actually bring fear to the mix.
Overall, Descendants 2 stepped its game up on many levels with their villains, story, and songs. Yet it still succumbs to the modern spin on DCOMs to go for musical gimmicks and diluted themes that while entertaining are not the only sustenance of the film. Descendants 2 story has room for improvement in regards to integrating its characters more, and could take a lesson from the books in regards to adding some suspense to the film. Still, it is one of the better DCOMs I have seen in a long time, and certainly the more impressive sequel to grace the small screen. With a little more work and some other feedback from you fans Descendants 3 (which I feel will come) can be even more exciting.
Family/Musical/Adventure/Fantasy: 8.0 Movie Overall: 5.5
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