I know I live tweeted this during the premiere, but now that I’ve watched it multiple times, I still have feelings that I need to get out, plus the set needs to be complete. As a note, I am trying to be…less abrasive, I suppose?…of my reviews, even if I have issues with them. This is especially true for this movie, since it premiered so soon after the loss of Cameron Bryce (Carlos).
Descendants 3 picks up a bit after the second movie, bringing a fresh class of kids from the Isle of the Lost to Auradon for a chance at turning good. However, a clash with Hades at the gate puts the entire program in jeopardy, especially when a villain appears and begins to wreck havoc on all of Auradon using Maleficent’s scepter. Mal and the others must obtain Hades’s ember, the only force capable of countering the scepter, and bring an end to it…once and for all.
Okay, spoilers from here on out, ya’ll. Look away if you don’t want to see anymore.
So, the fact we are three years (I think? I can’t tell if this is all supposed to have taken place within the same year or once a year or what) into this and the people of Auradon still don’t think their own are capable of becoming villains has gone from snicker-worthy to sad. Like, the early signs were laid out all through the first movie, and while the second took a break to focus more on the Isle, we all still knew that Chad was Gaston 2.0 just royal and Audrey was in no way the nice girl they insisted she was. (We knew this from when Mal started casting spells and the way she reacted to other girls getting prettier.) So I don’t know why everyone else saw Audrey turning evil as perfectly in character, but within universe it was thought to be a lie.
Oh, speaking of, Audrey just went batshit, and a part of me loved it because it was entirely in the style of Maleficent. But on the other hand, she was just…not that smart, like at all. And then to make it worse, she faced no punishment. In fact, because she faced no punishment, the immediate response was to free everyone on the Isle, despite the fact it is safe to say some people on that Isle need to stay in prison. (Oh, or go back to being dead. Yeah, the heroes RAISED THE DEAD to punish them on the Isle, OMG, and you are the good guys???)
Aside from that, the story was pretty bleh. The new characters were basically a whole lotta nothing, though seeing this version of Lady Tremaine was nice. The only exception is really Hades, who stole the damn show and I am living for it. I want more of Hades and Mal, please. Hell, I want Hades and Maleficent backstory. But once we leave him, it becomes this really contrived liar revealed, let’s team up plot, and I don’t mind those plots when they are done well… But Mal’s is easily resolved by her going, “I changed my mind. They are right, the kids need let out and maybe we should do it quicker instead of slower as a nod to safety concerns about the adults, who need counseling to determine who is safe to free and who isn’t.” And instead, we have to have really, really confusing magic save the day (I still don’t get why the magic synced up).
Jane and Carlos get a special shout out, though. They were adorkable and she was fantastic. Also, Ben was actually a little entertaining in this one, him and Mal over the beard and teeth? I snorted and fell over in amusement.
Speaking of character designs, I thought everyone’s was done really well with a couple of notes. I mean, like I said, I thought their version of Lady Tremaine was actually nice and I like the change to her dress. The styling was on-pointe as it usually is, and I actually liked Uma’s a whole lot better in this one. I don’t get why Doug’s hair was long, though I suspect it has to do with the actor in question and really, I get to make funny jokes about Evie letting Doug get away with that, I’m okay. Mal’s hair turning even bluer I think was unnecessary to tie her to Hades. We get it, he’s her dad. Let her hair stay the shade of purple from either of the other two movies, please? It makes it harder to track her and Evie for someone who hasn’t seen all the movies on repeat (because my friend watching it for the last half with me couldn’t keep the two of them straight between outfit changes).
Last talk on is for music. I mean, yay, there was less rap/hip hop? But at the same time, uh, Audrey can actually sing. Why is she rapping again? I liked the idea of Knight Fall, but the fighting was too slow to match (safety reasons probably), and then by the end it was just like, “Okay, that was pointless.” But you know, at least they make little nods to the exasperation with it, like Mal and Uma’s backup singing for Evie in One Kiss (that was hysterical). I also wonder if the solo for Dove is why this liar plot line happened, like trying to put in this flashback to the prior two movies. The song by itself is fine, my problem remains with the plot. Also, the ending felt more meh to me, I don’t think it ended things like the last one did, we had too many one-liner type scenes at the end for it to work that way.
Overall, I definitely think this one was better than the second, but not quite up to the first. The story was just the wrong plot-line to go down for me, though others might feel differently, and it reflected into the music. It was still a good, solid ending to the series. I just hope that they leave it that way, since without Cameron, I can’t imagine the others being excited about it.