Disney’s Descendants trilogy shows the second generation of princes, princesses, and villains living in Auradon. Which of the three movies is best?
Disney’s Descendants trilogy is all about the second generation of classic princes, princesses, and villains, but which of these movies is the best? The first Descendants premiered as a Disney original back in July of 2015. The adventure/comedy/musical opened to generally positive reviews and has a wide viewership. Descendants 2 opened about two years later in July of 2017 on most Disney-owned networks such as ABC, Freeform, and Lifetime. The final live-action addition, Descendants 3, premiered another two years later in August of 2019.
The story follows the children of four classic Disney villains who have been banished to the Isle of the Lost by the Beast and Belle, king and queen of the fantasy land Auradon. The Isle of the Lost is a place without magic, therefore Maleficent, the main villain of Sleeping Beauty, coerces her daughter Mal (Dove Cameron) and her friends to accept Prince Ben’s (Mitchell Hope) invitation to take in children from the Isle of the Lost to live in Auradon. Evie, Carlos, and Jay, the children of the Wicked Queen, Cruella de Vil, and Jafar respectively, go with Mal to Auradon in order to take the Fairy Godmother’s wand to restore magical powers back to their villainous parents.
The Descendants trilogy has a lot of catchy songs, enough to land the first movie soundtrack in the number 1 spot on the Billboard 200 charts. There’s plenty of Disney-esque themes such as love and the power of friendship. As well the films appeal to older Disney fans that grew up with staple films such as Sleeping Beauty, Aladdin, Snow White, Beauty & the Beast, and The Little Mermaid. So out of all of these magical musical romps, which one is the best?
1. Descendants 2
Descendants 2 follows Mal having a hard time with her new life as Prince Ben’s girlfriend. She struggles with maintaining her identity, even going so far as to magic her hair blonde so as to keep up the facade of being princess-like. Mal divulges this to her friends, however, they have found their place of comfort living in Auradon. Mal returns to the Isle of the Lost and faces her old rival Uma (China Anne McClain) who is now the ruler of Mal’s old domain. Uma goes to Auradon, steals Prince Ben from Mal, and the old rivals fight it out. Though Descendants 2 produced astounding views for the network, the sequel doesn’t quite live up to the original. China Anne McClain performs well as Uma, daughter of The Little Mermaid‘s Ursula. However, Evie, Carlos, and Jay play such minor roles in the sequel that the themes of friendship are severely diminished. The focus on Mal and her insecurities doesn’t do much for the film.
The first Descendants is all about the ensemble cast and their mission into Auradon to steal the Fairy Godmother’s wand. Mal, Evie, Carlos, and Jay undergo significant character arcs and the film is packed full of entertaining musical numbers and choreography. As well, Disney fans get to experience a talented cast playing the live-action classic Disney villains. Kristen Chenowith plays Maleficent in a way that is much more reminiscent of the original Sleeping Beauty than Angelina Jolie’s interpretation. Kathy Najimy of Hocus Pocus also brings her comedic talents to the role of the Evil Queen from Snow White.
3. Descendents 3
The final chapter of the live-action trilogy, Descendants 3, is definitely the best out of the three films. The movie introduces the talented Cheyenne Jackson as Hades—later revealed to be Mal’s father—and ends the long battle between Auradon and the Isle of the Lost. In an interesting turn of events, the antagonist becomes Audrey, daughter of Sleeping Beauty’s Aurora and Philip. It’s a fitting ending to the Descendants trilogy. Everything in the third film wraps up nicely and gets back to the family and friendship themes that were lost in Descendants 2. Everyone pairs up, a bridge is built between the Isle of the Lost and Auradon, and the message of the films is made clear by Mal. People aren’t all good or all bad, everyone is capable of both.
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