This summer, Disney Channel released the network’s newest live-action original movie, Descendants 2. Directed by Disney Channel mastermind Kenny Ortega, the sequel follows the children of Disney villains and heroes as they make their way in high school.
In the first movie, the merciful “King Ben” (Mitchell Hope), son of “Belle” and “Beast” of Beauty and the Beast, allows the villain children to leave the isle where their parents have been exiled for a decade. In Descendants 2, the same characters find themselves moving between the lands of good and evil while balancing internal conflicts of their own.
The movie premiered on July 21, drawing 13 million viewers across six different networks. This hoard of viewers is not surprising, considering the success of the first film and the anticipation of new villain characters like “Uma,” daughter of “Ursula” played by China Anne McClain, and “Harry Hook,” son of “Captain Hook” played by Thomas Doherty.
The incredible dancing, bright colors and catchy music also were highly anticipated aspects of the sequel, and the film did not disappoint. Anyone fortunate enough to watch this movie certainly will be cursed for the following weeks by the unshakable melodies of “Chillin’ Like A Villain” and “What’s My Name?”
All of the songs are edgy with choreography so sharp and iconic it certainly will create a new standard for dancing in Disney Channel musicals. One of these dancers, Cameron Boyce, who plays “Carlos De Vil,” is at the forefront of these hot new moves, bringing freshness to the dance numbers that High School Musical never pulled off.
In addition to the spectacular dance numbers, the film represents a shift for the wholesome Disney Channel aesthetic. Though the songs and themes ultimately convey the usual Disney messages of friendship and self-acceptance, the costumes, production designs, lyrics, and dance moves of Descendants 2 are undeniably darker and, at times, distinctly more sexual.
“Gabriella” and “Troy” were cute, and their dancing in High School Musical was impressive, but the new crop of teen stars represents a new age of pore-less confidence that the older generation of Disney folks never had the chance to embrace.
With this new confidence comes the most exciting aspect of the Descendants franchise, the bold and thrilling feminist characters, themes and plotlines. Actresses Dove Cameron, playing “Mal,” and Sophia Carson, playing “Evie,” carry the movie as competent female leaders, with complicated motivations and internal conflicts. They lead their male counterparts through complex moral decisions to a better understanding of a masculine capacity for gentleness, all while rapping about their evil schemes.
Descendants 2 is a revelation in TV filmmaking and a gift to audiences everywhere.