I have a theory that, sans Camp Rock 2, the sequels to DCOMs are always better than the original. Zenon: Z3, High School Musical 2, Teen Beach 2, Cheetah Girls 2, etc. Descendants 2, premiering July 21st at 8 pm on Disney Channel, Disney XD, Freeform, Lifetime, and ABC, attempts to join the club.
This time around, Mal is stressing about the expectations that have been placed upon her after her move to Auradon. Her relationship with Ben is giving her continual challenges she's having trouble facing. She hits a breaking point and travels back to the Isle of the Lost to reclaim herself and think about how she wants to live her life. Ben, of course, tries to go and get her to return (alongside Carlos, Evie, and Jay). Uma, daughter of Ursula, has different plans for Mal and Ben, and thus our story continues.
Y'all, this movie straight up delivers. It is so good. SO good. My sequel theory stands!
Before actual plot or performers or any of that, I need to shout out to some production, because this movie is impeccably designed. Mark Hofeling is the production designer and his attention to detail shows. The Isle of the Lost is, of course, a treasure trove of easter eggs and really fun textures, but the detail in the dorm rooms at Auradon Prep is also spectacular. Costume designer Kara Saun slays. I don't know what else to say, 'cause they are all stunning. The beading, the colors, the materials. I have major jealousy over everything Carlos wore in the film.
Now, onto the actual plot. It had some very interesting turns that I didn't see coming and really enjoyed. The Act 3 conclusion has a very weird compromise that I could've done without, but it didn't distract from the rest of the gold this film presents.
Dove Cameron shines bright, once again. Her performance is really spectacular and, at many times, felt effortless. Her simple reading of "She dabbles." felt like I was just eavesdropping on a normal conversation. China Anne McClain was a welcome addition and I will never say no to China Anne.
Lonnie, Mulan's daughter (played Dianne Doan), has more to do in this film and it was also great to see her kick butt and kick down gender stereotypes. She has a fantastic call out to her mom saving China that made me clap like a proud uncle. The biggest winner this time around is Thomas Doherty, playing Captain Hook's son, Harry. He isn't playing around. His characterization is actually perfect. He oozes masculinity, but not in a toxic way. He's confident and adds the right bit of crazy that his dad had in Neverland.
(Side Note: Cameron Boyce as Carlos is fantastic, but I didn't feel the need to mention it, as it's assumed. I'm actually obsessed...)
The music is also 1000x better than the first film. Harry's rap in "What's My Name" is so good. "Space Between" feels very much like HSM2's "Gotta Go My Own Way," which I approve of ten-fold. "You and Me" is the best DCOM finale song, arguably, since HSM2.
On top of everything, it had some really interesting commentary on institutionalized class systems and feminism (Check out disneyBOP.com for more content regarding that in the coming weeks!) that was welcomed and appreciated.
Overall, this is a true must watch. I was openly not the biggest Descendants fan the first time around. I thoroughly enjoyed myself, but I wasn't as obsessed as the Teen Beach franchise. I absolutely loved Descendants 2 and am already looking forward to the eventual 3rd film (in theaters, I hope!). Let the sequels reign!