21 August 2015 | narfexists
Disney magic as seen through the lens of High School Musical
Don't be fooled by the premise; Descendants is not a nostalgic romp through classic Disney, nor is it a gritty reinterpretation of the source material a la last year's Maleficent. It has much more in common with High School Musical, Camp Rock, and Teen Beach Movie. These film franchises are so stylistically similar that they may as well be considered a single series with Descendants as the next in line (pun intended.) It is a series Disney is likely going to milk until it stops being profitable, so you might as well enjoy it until then. These films are shallow, cheesy, and unintelligent, but they're also so harmless and fun that there's no point in hating them. The target audience is clearly preteens, but there is plenty of enjoyment for adults and older teenagers due to three main factors:
1. The films don't take themselves too seriously.
2. The musical numbers are catchy and memorable.
3. The actors seem to be having fun which makes it easy for the viewer to have fun.
Here's how Descendants stacks up against its predecessors:
1. The moral of the film is "do what makes you happy and be with the people who make you happy even if it's not what others expect from you." It is no coincidence that High School Musical, Camp Rock, and Teen Beach Movie have that message in common. Descendants somehow manages to be even more rushed and less subtle in conveying it. While the film is lighthearted as a whole, it takes breaks to be serious and enforce its moral which detracts from the experience.
2. The very first song, "Rotten to the Core" is a blend of dubstep and poor attempts to be edgy. It is every bit as cringe-worthy as it sounds. The later songs are significantly better with "Did I Mention" as a highlight, but I'd still choose the Teen Beach Movie soundtrack over this one in a heartbeat.
3. To be blunt, there is no chemistry between the actors whatsoever. Dove Cameron's individual performance as Maleficent's daughter, Mal is somewhat captivating, but everyone else seems to be struggling to click with their characters.
I could go on about the predictability of the plot, the awkwardness of the dialogue, or the costumes which look like bad cosplay, but honestly, anyone who doesn't expect all that from a film like this is simply unobservant.
If High School Musical is your guilty pleasure, Descendants probably will be too even though it slips a little from the better aspects of its predecessors.