Descendants, the Disney Channel Original Movie franchise inspired by classic Disney animated features, received an animated twist on August 13th with the premiere of the half-hour TV special, Descendants: The Royal Wedding. Longtime fans of the series know that this isn’t the first time the teens from the Isle of the Lost have been animated, with the CG short form series Descendents: Wicked World filling in the gaps between films. But in many ways, that series had no continuity on the films, whereas Descendants: The Royal Wedding not only picks up right where Descendants 3 left off, but appears to also connect to the next adventure for the franchise.
It’s Mal and Ben’s wedding day and everything is going perfectly, with Mal’s dress designed by Evie and Audrey serving as her wedding planner. But when Mal’s dad Hades seemingly destroys the wedding with his angry flames, Mal’s only chance of having her dream wedding relies on chasing after him back to the Isle of the Lost. Will Mal be able to mend the divide before she ties the knot?
With the actors from the franchise reprising their roles in voice form (minus Kristen Chenoweth, who hasn’t been back since the first film), Descendants: The Royal Wedding feels connected enough to the film series to appease some fans. One of the biggest flaws, however, comes in the form of the absent character Carlos, played in the films by the late Cameron Boyce. Marketing for the special said that his absence would be acknowledged, but it’s actually a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it quick reference that doesn’t explain why he’s not present for Mal’s big day. His dog Dude (voiced by Bobby Moynihan) is confusingly very present.
The animation quality is incredibly lackluster, with very limited animation that leads to choppy movements. It looks more like a motion comic than an animated special at times. When the average episode of a “6 days to air” animated series like South Park has more fluid animation than this one-time Disney Channel spinoff of one of the networks’ biggest properties, you have to wonder why it either had such limited resources or too quick of a turnaround for in-betweens to have been completed.
At any rate, the ultimate goal of Descendants: The Royal Wedding feels more like it’s trying to close one chapter to start another. The special ends with a tease of what's to come in the future, with white roses dripping with red paint and an open rabbit hole beyond them. Descendants 3 was previously announced as the end of the film series, leaving us to only guess if this means a spin-off series, new movie, or both. Time will tell who has gone down the rabbit hole, but Descendants: The Royal Wedding feels less like a celebratory finale of the story for Mal, Evie, Jay, Carlos and Ben and more like a way to get fans on board for more stories in the series that presumably don’t include the core cast they fell in love with. At any rate, the special very much feels like Auradon has lost its magic.
I give Descendants: The Royal Wedding 2 out of 5 types of flowers in Auradon.