Descendants (2015)

Taken from the Disney Wiki page for Descendants

I’ve always loved Disney’s fairy tales, my personal favorite being a tie between Peter Pan and Mulan. By the time the first Descendants movie came out in 2015 I was already done watching Disney Channel for the most part and missed all the publicity for it. It wasn’t until both of my little sisters performed songs from Descendants 2 for their end of the year school shows over a year ago that I began to show any interest in the wildly popular franchise.

I figured now was a good a time as any, and in a matter of 24 hours I completed the franchise. (Weird fact: I watched the 1st and 2nd movie twice in the same 24 hours.) I decided to break up my thoughts and keep them separated by movie. Let’s begin with the 2015 release of the first movie; Descendants.

It opens with Mal explaining the history of Auradon; how Belle and the Beast united the kingdoms while also choosing to take all the villains and their sidekicks and locking them on the Isle of the Lost. This took place 20 years ago, and in present day, their son Ben is getting ready to be crowned King and he definitely dreams big. His first proclamation came as a shock to his parents; he wants to allow four children of the Isle to come to Auradon Prep and if all goes well, he wants to continue to bring children from the Isle past the barrier. Not afraid to make waves he goes with the biggest villains in Disney culture and chooses their kids. This is where we meet Mal (Maleficient’s daughter), Jay (Jafar’s son), Carlos (Cruella De Vil’s son) and Evie (Evil Queen’s daughter). Chosen by Prince Ben to come to Auradon Prep, they are very hesitant to leave the Isle but Maleficient tells her daughter that she must, and she must steal the wand from the Fairy Godmother (yes the one from Cinderella) so that Maleficient can escape and take over the world.

Throughout the movie, we are shown through little gestures that perhaps the kids aren’t as happy being evil as they wanted us to believe. Mal uses a love spell baked into a cookie to get Prince Ben to love her, which ends up washing away in the enchanted lake on their first date and lo and behold; he still wants to be with her. Completely dismissing the fact he had a girlfriend named Audrey (Sleeping Beauty’s daughter) who we saw as a self-centered princess who looks down on those who aren’t like her. At Ben’s coronation we see Mal actually didn’t choose to steal the wand until she was able to grab it from Jane, Fairy Godmother’s daughter. In a really sweet scene, she and her friends choose to be good, believing that their parents couldn’t get to them there.

Well, at least one of them was wrong because Maleficient shows up and even turns into a dragon. She and Mal have a battle of wits and Mal ends up winning, which leads to her mother turning into a lizard. Mal and Ben end up choosing to be together and there is a really big dance scene in the end.

Overall though, I think this movie may be the weakest of the franchise only because the personalities of the characters really shine through in the sequels.

Highlights:

  • Prince Ben singing “Did I Mention” to Mal when he is under the love spell. It’s a really catchy song and may be one of my favorites from all of the movies.
  • Carlos telling his mom that he loves dude the dog and that she needed to get over it.

Next week catch my review for Descendants 2!

Jane the Virgin S5E11-12

I never plan on talking about two episodes in a single post but that seems to be the groove I’ve settled into. So sit down, grab a snack and let’s talk about these episodes.

Season 5 Episode 11

Lots of drama in this episode. From Xo waiting for the results of her PET scan, to River kissing Rogelio, to Jane and Rafael continuing to learn how to co-parent. There’s another point of tension, Jorge has officially moved in with all of this things now that he and Alba are actually married and in love. Jane grows uncomfortable with the way Alba seems to be waiting on him and the way that the house she has grown up with has seemingly changed with him bringing all his stuff in.

It’s a reoccurring conversation throughout this episode that results in Alba shutting down that idea, saying that was choosing to cook and clean for him, because she loved doing it. Prompting Jane to realize that it was time for her to start a new chapter in her life and that she wanted to move out into her own apartment.

As for Rogelio, he doesn’t believe Xo in the beginning when she says that River is still going to go after him until River proves that by saying they could be together now that they had a good alibi. There’s even a huge fight between River and Xo on set which was entertaining. River at the end of the episode is talking to herself about how Rogelio didn’t love her and that he was going to pay. All ominous like.

Season 5 Episode 12

Guys. We did it. In this episode Jane and Rafael spend a lot of time alone because he is trying to help her find an apartment to move into. In the process though, Jane is introduced to the new woman he is dating; Julie. Julie is played by Sophia Bush and despite most likely being a guest character never to be seen again, she played a major role. I’m going to get back to this, don’t you worry. First though, I want to talk about Mateo.

I love that the show isn’t romanticizing ADHD, and I love that they are accurately showing how powerless parents can feel for not knowing the best way to help their child, and how confused and upset the kids can be for not understanding what is going on.

Now back to the role Julie played. If it wasn’t for her very existence, Rafael wouldn’t have realized the one deal-breaker he can’t get past. She isn’t Jane. Ironically, right before getting back together with Rafael, Jane was showing Petra her new dating profile. But Rafael comes to his senses and tells Jane not to buy the apartment because he wants to be with her and thus, they will be moving back in together. There’s a musical number that occurs here, by the way.

Things aren’t going for Petra, and I have a feeling they will only get worse from here. Milos wants to force Petra’s hand and make her lie for him in court in order to stop him from selling the hotel. But she refuses, because she doesn’t want to lie anymore. Her assistant Krishna goes to Milos and says that she is willing to work with him because she also wants to take Petra down. Which made me think of Luisa saying she was ready to work with Rose again. Which in turn reminded me that we haven’t heard of our red-headed villain in the shadows in a couple episodes. Seems to be the quiet before the storm.

We will just have to wait and see what happens as the show starts coming to a close.

How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World

When we’ve got a good thing going no one wants it to end. It was only in the past few months that I’ve dived headfirst into the fandom that is How to Train Your Dragon (mentioned as HTTYD from here on out). I watched the first movie when it came out originally in theaters but then I lost track of it and chalked it up to ‘just-another-kid-movie.’ After a friend recommended me to give them another chance now that I’m older, I realized how wrong I was. Sure, it’s animated and that for so long meant that it was just for children but let me remind you that there are so many works out now that are enjoyable for all ages and not just children.

When I began the franchise over again I watched HTTYD, followed by all the short films, Riders of Berk, Defenders of Berk and Dragons: Race to the Edge. These shows and short films were meant to act as supplement material between movies 1 & 2 due to the five year time jump. I think these pieces were brilliant, my favorite being Netflix’s Dragons: Race to the Edge because it was in this show that we watched the characters really grow up and saw Hiccup and Astrid become our beloved couple.

If you didn’t watch the shows here are some points you may have missed out on

  • Stoick and Hiccup’s relationship really flourishes in the shows, and it makes his death in HTTYD2 that much more painful. We see Stoick more in the shows and we get to see his first dragon; a Thunderdrum named Thornado who we don’t get to see in the second film. We also see him and Toothless actually bond and work together which once again, makes his death hurt that much more. I’m a big fan of Stoick and I think Hiccup learned a lot from him.
  • Dagur and Heather the berserkers! I’m still so gutted that they weren’t a part of the films because these two characters are beyond interesting and some of my favorites so the fact they aren’t even mentioned?? I didn’t like that. They are such a major part of the story because Dagur is the Chief of the Berserkers, Heather is his sister and was even a dragon rider with the gang for a while. She and Fishlegs were even together briefly.

things that the Hidden World did that didn’t make sense to me

  • Ruffnut being shown as nothing more than a dimwitted annoying girl that her twin can’t stand to be around. Sure, they tease the hell out of eachother but to make it so he wasn’t worried when she was left behind? Wasn’t accurate.
  • Hiccup being depicted as someone who wanted to keep Toothless all to himself? It wasn’t a selfish desire, they had each other’s backs for years at this point, of course he would be upset if he didn’t think Toothless was going to come back.
  • The riders not being able to work together as a team? After doing so for the past, what? Like six years? Also not accurate and frankly super annoying.

Overall, I think it would have been really hard for this movie to keep all of the fans happy. I don’t think it was a perfect ending to a franchise I love so much, but it could have been a lot worse. In some aspects I can understand the route that the writers and everyone behind the scenes decided to take in terms of making it so all the dragons disappeared into the hidden world. They probably wanted to keep some mystery alive so that it could be said that dragons still existed but that they know the humans don’t deserve them. On the other hand, it could be said that this was an easier route than trying to come up with an ending that would make sense with no one trying to hurt the dragons while they were at New Berk. Easier doesn’t necessarily mean better in this case, because I just find it hard to believe that after everything Toothless and Hiccup have been through together that they would only reunite ten years later and take one final ride before saying goodbye forever. It’s a painful thought and I’ve elected to ignore it.

That’s a wrap on the HTTYD franchise but it has sparked a renewed love for animation so I’m looking forward to finding new series to watch and fall in love with.