Descendants 3 is the third in Disney’s series of fantasy musical television films. If you have no idea what this is, think High School Musical meets Cinderella; it is a live-action musical set in a Disney inspired universe.
In this fantasy world, the inhabitants are descendants of popular Disney characters, of both heroes and villains: there is King Ben who is the son of Beast and Belle, Mal, daughter of Maleficent, and Audrey, the daughter of Princess Aurora. A definitive class system is imposed here where the “good” characters live in Auradon, wanting for very little, in a country club-like atmosphere; to keep this land safe, all of the “evil” characters, and their descendants, are banished to the Isle of the Lost and kept there by a magical barrier that restricts the use of evil magic. As one could have guessed, life in the Isle of the Lost is much more difficult than in Auradon. But it’s not all bad, as kind benefactors, the people of Auradon allow four villain kids (VK’s) to live in Auradon.
Before Mal came into the picture in the first Descendants movie, King Ben seemed destined to be with Audrey (daughter of Princess Aurora), but that doesn’t work out and Audrey has quite a bit of resentment. In her jealousy, Audrey steals a magical scepter. She then begins a reign of magical chaos, first putting the people of Auradon asleep and eventually turning them to stone. The heroes’ only hope is to get the ember, a magical gem, from Hades, the god of the Underworld, played by Cheyenne Jackson of American Horror Story fame.
Descendants 3 offers an enjoyable viewing experience, as the quality of special effects and overall sets–though not Hollywood quality–are surprisingly effective and offer more than you might expect, or even require, from this type of production. It is easy to appreciate the energy of the film, too.
There are several musical numbers that are well choreographed and fun to watch, and fans will be happy to see all the familiar characters and actors from the prior films in the series return. It is apparent that the performers are having fun in their roles and this comes through in these scenes. Cheyenne Jackson, a newcomer to the series, stands out, as he seemed to love playing Hades, producing an over the top, fun performance in the process.
One minor disappointment was that, unlike prior films, Descendants 3 lacked a truly memorable song with staying power.
I watched Descendants 3 with my four- and five-year-old daughters and they were entertained throughout the 90-plus-minute run time, and that’s all that really matters, right?
If you are looking for a whimsical musical with messages of friendship, acceptance, and honesty that is suitable for young kids, Descendants 3 just might fit the bill.