Film Review: “Descendants 3” (Disney Channel)

The Isle of the Lost is opening its doors once again in Disney Channel’s Descendants 3, the third installment in the wildly popular film series. Based on the Disney Villains, fans of the franchise will reconnect with their favorite Villain Kids (VKs) including Mal, Evie, Carlos, Jay, and Uma. Grab the popcorn and soda pop and settle in to watch a Disney Channel Original Movie that is full of brand-new songs, fun characters, and some shocking twists.

Like the previous two installments, Descendants 3 starts on the Isle of the Lost with a high-energy dance number, the pre-release single “Good to Be Bad.” Mal, Evie, Carlos, and Jay each get to pick one kid from the Isle to bring back to Auradon with them and they select some newcomers in addition to fan-favorite Dizzy. It’s never mentioned or shown, but the film takes place after the core crew has graduated high school.

The inciting incident is not that new VKs have been brought the Auradon Prep, but the fact that Ben proposes to Mal. This causes an Auradon native to feel like Mal stole the future that should’ve been hers. I don’t want to give too much away, but let's just say the tables have turned and while we already know that not everyone from the Isle of the Lost is bad, maybe not everyone from Auradon is inherently good.

The marketing has made a big to-do of the new adult villain in the film, Hades. He is brought to the screen by Broadway star Cheyenne Jackson, continuing the tradition of casting a great stage actor as the parent of a VK. His ridiculous good looks aren’t impeded by the addition of guyliner or a blue cotton candy wig. And in case you were wondering, yes, he gets a fun musical number. Sadly, Kristin Chenoweth has not returned since the first film and an amazing opportunity was missed to unite the two stage icons in what surely would’ve been an Emmy winning performance.

Kenny Ortega has done it again and proves that he is worthy of both his star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame and his upcoming Disney Legend Award. The Hocus Pocus director continues the tradition of adding nods to his Halloween classic in the Descendants series and fans of the Sanderson Sisters should listen for two line-for-line quotes from the film included here, as well as characters getting turned into stone in a way that is reminiscent of the finale of Hocus Pocus, the best Halloween film of all time (an indisputable fact).

The sadness of the recent passing of Cameron Boyce adds a touch of melancholy to the premiere. However, the film has so much energy and such a positive message that it doesn’t detract from the viewing experience. It’s nonetheless somber and when the film’s final shot appears, you can’t help but think about the life that was taken too soon.

Descendants 3 is the best film in the series so far and has an air of finality to it. While the drawbridge has certainly been lowered for more, there’s something special about letting a trilogy remain a trilogy and it feels like a good way to end it. With some twists and major character reveals, I highly recommend that fans tune in to the premiere on Friday, August 2nd, before spoilers get ruined. But no matter what, you’ll have a wickedly fun time.

I give Descendants 3 5 out of 5 uses of “Bibbidi Bobbidi” as an adverb.

Alex Reif
Alex joined the Laughing Place team in 2014 and has been a lifelong Disney fan. His main beats for LP are Disney-branded movies, TV shows, books, music and toys. He recently became a member of the Television Critics Association (TCA).