A star rating of 4 out of 5.

It has been nine years since fans were first introduced to the villain kids from the Isle of the Lost who shook things up upon their arrival at Auradon Prep, and a lot has happened since then, marking the introduction of Chloe (Malia Baker) and Red (Kylie Cantrall).


Descendants: The Rise of Red fast-forwards ever so slightly from the events of Descendants 3, in which Mal (Dove Cameron) and Ben (Mitchell Hope) have set off on their travels and there’s a new principal in town – Uma (China Anne McClain), the daughter of Ursula.

Now, whether that was a good or bad thing given their touchy history is a storyline in itself, but that isn’t the focus.

The new movie introduces Disney fans to the rebellious daughter of the Queen of Hearts from Wonderland, played by the talented Rita Ora, who has a decades-long grudge against Auradon and her former best friend Cinderella, played by the equally talented Brandy. And when Red is invited to study at Auradon, a light bulb goes off – and she seeks revenge and incites a coup.

But Red must team up with Cinderella’s perfectionist daughter Chloe as they travel back in time to try and undo the Queen of Hearts’ villain origin story.

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Rita Ora as the Queen of Hearts in Descendants: The Rise of Red. She is dressed in a red ballgown, crown and has long red gloves on.
Rita Ora as the Queen of Hearts in Descendants: The Rise of Red. Disney/Quantrell Colbert

While the story is a classic Disney plot, it is the performances from the young actors that elevate and move said story along. The Descendants franchise has never shied away from testing out different kinds of music across its soundtracks, from the likes of It’s Goin’ Down, Did I Mention and Queen of Mean all taking on different musical genres – and The Rise of Red is no different.

In some of the opening scenes, we see Kylie Cantrall and Rita Ora bounce off one another in a duet, proving that Disney movies are restoring their glory, providing a stage for brand new stars to take centre stage alongside more experienced heads.

And it isn’t just Cantrall’s singing that impresses, with the 19-year-old’s acting skills shining through as Red embarks on a journey of self-discovery and empowerment, which many fans could liken to Mal’s in each film, as every challenge she faces develops her character bit by bit.

Malia Baker, who plays the overly-cheery Chloe, embarks on a similar journey to Red, but as the pair unite, it issues an important message of friendship – even between the most unlikely pair.

It’s Chloe’s interactions with other characters which sees the royal daughter undergo a transformation, moving away from abiding by the rules all the time to sometimes bending those to stand up for what is right.

But they aren’t the only characters at the forefront in The Rise of Red, with Dara Reneé taking on the role of Uliana, the younger sister of Ursula the sea witch, who will undoubtedly remind many of Uma before she stepped out of her villainous shoes.

Despite Reneé, Ruby Rose Turner and Morgan Dudley’s characters not having the most amount of screen time in the movie, their presence is certainly noted, and if there is another instalment, let’s hope Disney brings those powerhouses back!

As Red and Chloe explore old Auradon to discover what happened to Bridget (Ruby Rose Turner) to become the evil Queen of Hearts, without giving away spoilers, it becomes clear that Uliana had something to do with it, and an electrifying number between the teens as the movie reaches its climax will blow audiences away.

Anthony Pyatt as Hades, Mars as Maleficent, Dara Renee as Uliana and Joshua Colley as Hook, all stood next to each other, smiling eerily.
Anthony Pyatt as Hades, Mars as Maleficent, Dara Renee as Uliana and Joshua Colley as Hook in Descendants: The Rise of Red. Disney/Quantrell Colbert

As this is another Descendants film, the outfits are just as impressive as before, with each character having their own story to tell, and a lot of that is down to the colour scheme, letting audiences learn that just that bit more about them.

Red’s style has a mix of colours, from the obvious red and black and heart shapes, nodding to her royal lineage as the Queen of Hearts, even if she doesn’t want to associate with that part of her life.

As the daughter of Cinderella and Prince Charming, Chloe’s look is much more regal, with light colours of white and royal blue at the forefront, highlighting her innocence in comparison to Red.

But even with these clash of colours, they blend together well, just as their characters do.

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Descendants: The Rise of Red is a pleasant surprise addition to the Descendants franchise, proving it can keep the same messages as the original movies all while being fronted by a brand new cast.

While at times the film has its awkward teen drama moments, it is a Disney movie after all!

Whether you’re a fan of the original Descendants films, or are watching the movie with a new eye, the strong performances from each actor, even beyond their songs, will leave you in anticipation for what’s next.

Descendants: The Rise of Red debuts on Disney Plus on Friday 12th July. You can sign up to Disney Plus for £4.99 a month or £79.90 a year now.


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