Beyond the Trailer: Disney Descendants (2015)

Disney Descendants (2015)
(L to R) Carlos, Evie, Mal and Jay

"Ben, the teenaged son of King Beast and Queen Belle, invites the exiled children of defeated villains to attend a prep school with the heroes' children."


The colorful costuming and Villains Vs Heroes (Royals Vs Rebels?) makes me think of Ever After High, the singing makes me think of High School Musical --- and the vapid and vain heroines Vs the quirky and interesting villains? Is like they took a page from the School of Good and Evil.

I knew it was going to be a trainwreck the moment I heard about it. However, out of my love for the original I decided to watch without any biased feelings.

Apparently, I didn't need them. Even without knowing anything about the original movies, it is still a horrible adaptation. It had cute moments, but I personally didn't think they were enough to save the whole film.

The children acted better than the adults. The adults either over-acted or had lukewarm acting. Considering they are playing beloved characters, it was disappointing.

I like Dove Cameron's Mal and Sofia Carson's Evie. But while I think Booboo Stewart is absolutely hot, I am not so certain about his character. He and Carlos got the worst end of the stick when it came to character development. It is a shame since I thought Carlos was a decent actor and cute too.

(L to R) Carlos, Evie, Mal and Ben
This movie has "building potential new franchise" all over it. They even have dolls. Why is Mal's eyes brown though. I could have sworn they were green in the movie.

The dolls were made by Hasbro Toy Co. The company that gave us G.I. Joe and Jem and the Holograms.

Anyone remember Jem and the Holograms? Anyone? I guess not. 



Summary


Mal narrating with touch screen. 
The story begins with a traditional Disney opening  with the story told through narration, except the book replace by a touch pad. It told the origins of the heroes and villains and how the villains had been exiled to an island called, the Isle of the Lost.

While most people had been happy with this change (with the exceptions of the villains), the son of Belle and the Beast, Ben wasn't as sure. With his coronation drawing near, he told his parents that he made the decision of bringing to Auradon children of the villains, whom he had deemed innocent of their parents' crimes.

(L to R) Maleficent's henchman, Maleficent, Mal,
Evie, Carlos and Jay.
Maleficent tells the children about their new school.
He had chosen four children to start. Mal, the daughter of Maleficent; Evie, the daughter of the Evil Queen; Carlos, son of Cruella de Ville; and Jay, son of Jafar. Each child having their own flaws under the influence of their parents. Mal believed happiness is in evil, Evie believed that she needed to marry a prince, Carlos was terrified of dogs and Jay didn't do teamwork and a thief (It seems he inherited something from Aladdin too). Their parents thought that their children going to Auradon would be their chance to break free from the Isle of the Lost. Maleficent told them to steal the fairy godmother's wand.

Once in Auradon, the divide between the children from Good and Evil was made clear. We will meet the daughter Sleeping Beauty, Audrey, Jane, daughter of the fairy godmother and Doug, son of one of the seven dwarves (Dopey).

(L to R) Prince Ben, Fairy Godmother and Audrey
It didn't take them long to stir up some trouble. Mal had an obvious rivalry with Audrey, Evie was using her magic mirror to cheat and impress a prince, Jay didn't play nice --- however the coach still found some potential there. Carlos wasn't really trouble. He was just running away from the school mutt.

Mal was also getting attention for her magic. She was helping other girls, like Jane and Lonnie the daughter of Mulan --- with their hair. Jane especially wanted to be more beautiful, being so insecure of her looks.

However, they had a mission to do and that was to steal the fairy godmother's magic wand. It didn't take them long to find it. Unfortunately for them, the wand was tightly protected by a barrier that made it impossible for them to infiltrate without getting caught.


Prince Ben ridiculously singing, Did I Mention to Mal.
They had to go with another plan. They found out that the wand would be brought out during the prince's coronation. However, only the prince, his family and his escort can come close. Ben was already spoken for though. He was dating Audrey, which she made very clear. They decided to make the prince fall in love with Mal. They produced a love potion in their school kitchen, which they fed to Ben. The results were --- RIDICULOUS.

Ben was so in love with Mal that he sang a song called, Did I Mention after they won their tourney game. This made his break up with Audrey official and began dating Mal. It is no surprise that Ben knew how to romance. He took her on a picnic by a magic lake. His efforts worked too well and even Mal was beginning to like him despite knowing that this was all only due to the love potion.

Mal and Ben having their first date.
When Ben jumped into the lake for a swim and didn't surface, she began to worry and despite not knowing how to swim had jumped into the lake as well. As she was about to drown, Ben rescued her and was touched by her attempt.

While waiting for the coronation, the four had began to assimilate into this new life. After almost getting caught cheating and having her magic mirror taken from her, Evie learned that she was smarter than she thought and also discovered her knack for fashion. Carlos was now bestfriends with the school mutt and Jay was a a bit more comfortable with teamwork and his life as a jock.

This changed a few days before the coronation when Mal met Sleeping Beauty's mother. She was introduced as Ben's girlfriend. Unfortunately, Sleeping Beauty's mother had never forgiven Maleficent and in extension her daughter, Mal. It didn't help that Audrey and even Jane began making mean comments about them. Mal changed Jane's hair back to the way it was and made the decision to go ahead with the plan.

Mal and Ben at Ben's coronation.
On the day of the coronation, Mal rode with Ben and to ease her guilty conscience she fed him the antidote for the love potion. To her surprise, he already knew what she did and forgave her. Her potion's effects had washed away when he had went for a swim at the magic lake. He admitted that he saw the good in her and loved her for it.

Mal's doubts continued to increase.

The moment of truth arrived, the whole of Auredon and even the villains in the Isle of the Lost were watching. The moment opportunity came, someone had grabbed the wand and freed Malefient but --- it wasn't Mal. Instead, it had been Jane who had been insecure of her looks and wanted the wand to make her look beautiful. Mal managed to take it away from her.

It was at this moment that Maleficent crashed into the coronation and froze time except for the four villain children. She told Mal to give her the wand but her daughter refused. Mal wanted to be good. Furious by this, Maleficent transformed into a dragon and tried to destroy them and take the wand herself. But Mal's power had grown thanks to her power of Good and ... won against Maleficent and transformed her into a lizard.
Ending Dance Number with cast.

The wand was returned to the fairy godmother, Jane learns a valuable lesson of loving herself and all was well.

The story ends with a dance number with the cast and hints of a sequel.

Costumes


(L to R) Lonnie, Evie, Mal, Jane and Audrey
IIn Disney descendants, Evie is also a budding fashion designer and had designed both her and Mal's gowns for the coronation.

Not surprisingly, I think Mal and Evie were the luckiest in terms of costumes. They were flattering and pretty. They also gave hints of their parentage. Jane as well in fact.

Audrey and Lonnie however --- not so much. If they didn't tell me who their parents are, I wouldn't have guessed at all. I can't help but feel that just because Lonnie is Asian we are to believe she is the
daughter of Mulan.

(L to R) Dolls. Jane, Audrey and Lonnie. 
Ironically though, in terms of dolls I think Lonnie is the prettiest. I just wished it translated better into her movie counterpart's dress.

I think the reason why I can't help think this was meant for franchising because the costuming process looked like the costumes were adapted from the dolls instead of the other way around.

Not surprising since the Jem and the Holograms process had been similar. The creator made a story from the dolls. Unfortunately, doing this makes the costumes look a bit too cheap.

Songs



  • Rotten to the Core performed by Mal, Evie, Carlos and Jay
Villans' Descendants performing
"Rotten to the Core"

Since it is a musical, I guess I should talk about the music. I might have liked this a lot more without it though. I will talk about the once that stood out to me the most. 

I can't deny that I do like Dove Cameron's voice here. I am not so sure about the male cast though. While I think Booboo is a musician --- at least I think he is? I don't think this kind of song is to his advantage. 

This song was unnecessary. While fun, they could have used this time to let us get to know these characters more. Maybe explain how their parents who used to move with class became the way they are. Anything.  Because while they are all decent actors I can't feel for characters by getting to know them from what they are just telling me.





  • Did I Mention performed by Prince Ben


However, he isn't actually the one singing though. His singing voice was done by Jeff Lewis from the Voice (Season 4), so it is no wonder his voice here just made me melt. I thought it was a little odd that his "Be Our Guest" Number wasn't as great. 

As my friend, Kerri says --- he has the voice of a prince in Did I Mention.

While still unnecessary, I admit that this song is catchy. I found myself singing this song on my way to work. But I think it helped that the voice is really gorgeous and thinking about it --- it was a little sweet. Even if part of me also thinks it is a little mean that he broke up with his girlfriend like that and humiliating her further by courting another girl. I know it isn't his fault --- but it brought down the romance for me a little.



  • If Only performed by Mal
This is probably the least unnecessary song in the whole movie and also my favorite. I want to sing this myself someday. 

Another thing I like about this song sequence is that many times Mal looked like she stepped out of a painting and the fact that she is telling her story in this song. I wish all the characters had something like this. Even if it is silly for Carlos to sing about his fear of dogs getting cured. I am just kidding. The singing really isn't necessary.

In the end, I could still do without this though if it meant growth for the other characters. 



Characters

Villains' Children

Mal, Daughter of Maleficent
from Sleeping Beauty
Mal

Mal is played by Dove Cameron. Her character is the daughter of Maleficent with an artistic side.

I dislike what they did to Maleficent. In the original, she was elegant in her evil. Now, she just seems petty and pathetic at times.

If I were to be honest, I like Mal. She was the one who stood out the most for me. I like her voice and I think the actress acted well despite the material she was given. That is saying a lot since the story is basically a disaster. With a better story, I think she could have made this character work. However, that doesn't mean I like her enough to want to see her in a sequel. Please, do not make a sequel.

Evie, Daughter of the Evil Queen
from Snow White
Evie


Apparently, Snow White has a younger stepsister. Her name is Evie and she is played by Sophie Carson.

Considering how kind Snow White is, I am kind of surprised that she made no attempt to rescue her potential stepsister before. But then again, all of the adults in this movie are out of character.

Despite what I said earlier about being a trend, I generally like Evie. She is funny, cute and I find her alleged flirty character interesting. I also like that a pretty girl can be smart too.

Jay, Son of Jafar
from Aladdin
Jay


I am not a fan of Twilight, so I am not really sure which character he was there. This is Jay, the son of Jafar and played by Booboo Stewart. 

How Jafar has fallen. Any charisma he ever had is gone and now he is a pathetic man still rubbing on magic lamps.

I have to admit that Jay is pretty good-looking but he is the type of character that makes me want to roll my eyes. As I said earlier, his character development  --- if there was any --- was really rushed. If they didn't, maybe I would have learned to like him more.

Carlos, Son of Cruella de Ville
from 101 Dalmatians. 
Carlos


Lastly, among the villains is Carlos, who is played by Cameron Boyce. He is just absolutely adorable, but I wished they gave him something more to work with. He had very little to no memorable screen time.

Another Disney villain bites the dust. His mother, Cruella in my memories was a truly horrible person. Still cruel despite all everything she had to go through to get those puppies. However, this Cruella again --- seems really pathetic.

Like Jay, his character build up was rushed. In fact, his development was simply, he used to be afraid of dogs and now he isn't. That was it and I find that sad because I think his character is the most likable among along the guys.

Heroes Children

Ben


Ben, Son of Belle and Adam
from Beauty and the Beast.
Belle is one of my all-time favorite characters, so I had been looking forward to seeing what her son would be like. He got the look and the personality ---  but at the same time he is a bit boring. I have to admit though that he wasn't boring when he was singing.

Ben is played by Mitchell Hope. 

Then again, with a character template like Ben there is really not much you can do. Ben is perfect and I don't know maybe he is so perfect it almost feels more like a template.

Audrey, Daughter of Aurora and Philip
from Sleeping Beauty
Audrey


Played by Sarah Jeffrey, Audrey sort of reminds me of a character in the book, "The School for Good and Evil." A girl named Beatrix who was the most beautiful girl in the School of Good. She was as vain as she was beautiful.

Audrey feels like another character template. She is the rival, so she is meant to be someone you shouldn't like. I wish they did something like Apple White from Ever After High. Maybe not a carbon copy of Apple, but something less cookie-cutter. Apple is still likable despite being the rival.

Jane

Brenna D'Amico played Jane, the daughter of Cinderella's fairy godmother. She is the insecure girl that wants to be beautiful. Ironic, because I think she has the most incredible eyes. I could seriously look at them the whole day.

I would have liked her character more if she didn't switch personalities for no reason. It was one of the things that didn't make sense to me about her character. Why was she suddenly such a mean girl to Mal and the others? Did they just really need someone to grab the wand that wasn't Mal, so that they would have some exciting twist? If that is why, I feel sorry for Jane since I would have liked her better if she was written better.

Overall

Jay, Carlos, Mal and Evie.


There was a lot of hype given for this movie since last year.


Where do I begin? Many parts of it was cheap --- from costuming to the bad CGI effects. The story is poorly written, which makes me feel sorry for those younger actors who can act decently. I have said this over and over that the original Disney characters have changed to the point of being absolutely unrecognizable.  I would also have liked it better if I found the characters recognizable outside their costumes.

I would have liked this much better if it wasn't a musical. There are songs that I like, but I also don't like that long hair makes a beautiful girl. That is the impression given to me when Mal was giving out hair styles. She basically just made their hair longer and you have great hair. It makes me sad because I love short hair.

The hair part is probably just me nitpicking.

It would have been nice to give Mulan a more significant role. While we do see her enough times, she seems to be there simply because they needed an oriental character. She might have worked for me, if the personality wasn't such a 180 from the original Mulan. Her "mother" had chopped off her hair for her family. Lonnie is a bit more vain for someone who is supposed to be Mulan's daughter.

While I liked small bits pieces of this movie, overall I really didn't like it all that much. I still look forward to see the young actors in other works in hopefully better movies --- but not here.






3 comments:

  1. I firmly disagree with a lot of what you're saying. The movie features a lot of characters of color, so I think that alone would make this movie very successful, especially since a lot of people of color remain underrepresented in the film industry. The characters are also very multi-sided, seeing as most of them are torn between truly finding themselves and trying to follow what their parents what. When the “evil” foursome saw the statues of their parents in the museum, they weren't proud. They were terrified. All of these tales about the ruthless things their parents had done were all just tales before they came to Auradon, so they never really knew the extent of just how bad they were. They never saw themselves as villains, because they grew up on an island where everyone is labelled a villain. There were no grey lines. So when they get shunned for being the scum of the earth during that party, they want their revenge, not because they're one-sided villains who always want to do evil things, but because they were treated so unfairly that they want to give them a taste of their own medicine. I can go on and on about the importance of this movie, really. (It has strong female characters, too, and oh, look! It passes the Bechdel test!) Yes, there were a few problems with the movie, like how much the writers pushed their characters to see conventional beauty as the only kind of beauty there is, but I really dislike people who can't seem to grasp the importance of this movie and would rather review it from a very literal point of view instead of its significance for a young, impressionable audience trying to understand the complexity and diversity of the people around us.

    P.S. Jodi from Make It Pop isn't a Latina character. She's Asian. Jodi, Sunhi, and Corki are all Asian characters. I don't know how you came to that conclusion. #Yikes.

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    1. I looked it up and you are correct. Jodi is Asian --- I apologize for that. I forgot she is Filipina too. I am usually thorough with my research. I will remove that immediately. I stand corrected, but I think you misunderstood a lot of what I said.

      I wasn't complaining about the variety of people of color. In fact, I liked that about it and really liked Evie and acting from the younger set. I don't remember complaining about that. I disliked the costuming, the "adult" original Disney villains and heroes. If you meant about what I said about Mulan. I was just saying I wished she would have been written better. In general, I wished everyone was written better and presented better.

      Maybe you are right and it isn't for my demographic, but it is a sad thought as well if that is the case. I grew up with these characters of Beauty and the Beast and Sleeping Beauty. Loved them. Is my demographic forgotten just because we older now? I think that is a little heartbreaking ...

      P.S. Thank you, by the way!

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  2. Mal, the daughter of Maleficent; Evie, the daughter of the Evil Queen; Carlos, son ... dmalcostume.blogspot.com

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