Australian Council on Children and the Media

Descendants 3

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Not suitable under 8; parental guidance to 10 (violence, scary scenes and images)

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This topic contains:

  • overall comments and recommendations
  • details of classification and consumer advice lines for Descendants 3
  • a review of Descendants 3 completed by the Australian Council on Children and the Media (ACCM) on 30 June 2020.

Overall comments and recommendations

Children under 8 Not suitable due to violence, scary scenes and images.
Children aged 8–10 Parental guidance recommended due to violence, scary scenes and images.
Children over the age of 10 Ok for this age group.

About the movie

This section contains details about the movie, including its classification by the Australian Government Classification Board and the associated consumer advice lines.

Name of movie: Descendants 3
Classification: PG
Consumer advice lines: Mild fantasy themes and violence
Length 105 minutes

ACCM review

This review of the movie contains the following information:

A synopsis of the story

In this made for TV movie sequel, Ben (Mitchell Hope) and Mal (Dove Cameron) continue their plan to bring more Villain Kids (VK's) over from the island to Auradon. They travel to the Isle of the Lost, together with Evie (Sophia Carson), Jay (Booboo Stewart) and Carlos (Cameron Boyce), where they select four lucky kids to go back with them, including Dizzy (Anna Cathcart), Celia (Jadah Marle) and twins Squeaky (Christian Convery) and Squirmy (Luke Roessler). However, as they are about to leave, Hades (Cheyenne Jackson) attempts to escape through the barrier just as it is closing. Mal has to transform into a dragon to repel Hades and seal the barrier.

Back in Auradon, Mal feels the responsibility of bringing evil to Auradon and so decides to close the barrier to the island permanently. This is without the knowledge of her friends who think she will always stand up for the VK's.

When Ben and Mal announce their engagement, Audrey (Sarah Jeffery) becomes most upset and angered. She feels she has been good all her life and for what purpose? Audrey decides to transform into a wicked queen, which she does by stealing Malificent's sceptre and crown. She then casts a spell on the inhabitants of Auradon putting them all into a deep sleep. Mal and her friends now have to fight Audrey's strong magic and the only weapon more powerful is Hades' amber. Mal decides to return to the island and try to steal the amber from Hades, who turns out to be her father. In the process Mal learns that all people are capable of good and evil no matter what side of the barrier they come from. She therefore decides it is better to remove the barriers that keep them apart and that everyone deserves a second chance.

Themesinfo

Children and adolescents may react adversely at different ages to themes of crime, suicide, drug and alcohol dependence, death, serious illness, family breakdown, death or separation from a parent, animal distress or cruelty to animals, children as victims, natural disasters and racism. Occasionally reviews may also signal themes that some parents may simply wish to know about.

Fantasy; Witchcraft; Magic, Abandonment by a parent; Heroes and Villains; Good v Evil.

Use of violenceinfo

Research shows that children are at risk of learning that violence is an acceptable means of conflict resolution when violence is glamourised, performed by an attractive hero, successful, has few real life consequences, is set in a comic context and / or is mostly perpetrated by male characters with female victims, or by one race against another.

Repeated exposure to violent content can reinforce the message that violence is an acceptable means of conflict resolution. Repeated exposure also increases the risks that children will become desensitised to the use of violence in real life or develop an exaggerated view about the prevalence and likelihood of violence in their own world.

There is some violence in this movie including:

  • Hades projects laser beams from his hands which knock out Ben, Evie, Carlos and Jay.
  • Mal transforms into a dragon and breathes fire on Hades, repelling him back behind the barrier.
  • Audrey smashes a glass case and steals the crown and sceptre.
  • Gil and Harry break through the barrier and shove Jay and Carlos.
  • Audrey throws an object at Chad and breaks a window.
  • Armoured knights come to life and point their swords at Mal and friends. A prolonged sword fight ensues. This is very choreographed and no-one is injured. At the end Mal and Uma send a powerful force into the knights, which causes them to crack and fall in a heap on the floor.
  • Audrey points the sceptre at Mal as a dragon. Mal fights back with fire and overcomes Audrey.

Material that may scare or disturb children

Under fiveinfo

Children under five are most likely to be frightened by scary visual images, such as monsters, physical transformations.

In addition to the above-mentioned violent scenes, there are some scenes in this movie that could scare or disturb children under the age of five, including the following:

  • Hades is a scary looking character with blue hair which burns like fire.
  • Mal transforms into a dragon.
  • Audrey transforms into a wicked queen.
  • Uma appears as a giant octopus.
  • Harry the pirate is a scary looking character with black eyes and a hook for a hand.
  • Audrey transforms Ben into a lion – he looks and appears quite scary.

Aged five to eightinfo

Children aged five to eight will also be frightened by scary visual images and will also be disturbed by depictions of the death of a parent, a child abandoned or separated from parents, children or animals being hurt or threatened and / or natural disasters.

In addition to the above-mentioned violent scenes and scary visual images, there are some scenes in this movie that could scare or disturb children aged five to eight, including the following:

  • Hades cries out that he is a god and shouldn't be stuck on the island.
  • Mal is shaken by her attack on Hades and feels that all her power has gone.
  • Audrey changes into a wicked character, she wants to be the 'queen of mean'. She has purple hair and clothes and laughs wickedly. She bangs the sceptre which sends out powerful impulses.
  • Audrey appears suddenly in a cloud of smoke. She points the sceptre at Mal who then transforms into an old crone, dressed in black, long white hair, toothless, bent over and crooked.
  • Audrey casts a pink cloud over everyone, causing them to fall into a deep sleep.
  • Mal and her friends enter a cavern on the island which shows a mural with a large monster's face with an open mouth and sharp teeth.
  • Mal and Celia enter Hades cave which is quite scary. Hades catches Mal in the act of stealing the amber. She confronts him with the fact that he abandoned her as a baby.
  • Audrey puts Ben to sleep and turns the Fairy Godmother into stone.
  • As a lion, Ben is aggressive towards his friends. He growls and roars at them. Carlos tries to reach out but Ben lashes out at him.
  • Celia and friends are trapped inside a cottage by Audrey who shutters up all the windows with a spell.
  • Ben, Mal, Jay and Carlos walk through a scary forest in the dark. They approach the cottage which is all in darkness.
  • Audrey turns Evie, Jay, Carlos and Ben into stone.
  • Mal transforms into a dragon and flies over a dark castle screeching at Audrey. Audrey laughs wickedly and holds Celia hostage.
  • Audrey appears to be dead on the ground. She isn't – so the friends take her into the castle where she is seen, deathly looking, lying in bed. They think she's slipping away.

Aged eight to thirteeninfo

Children aged eight to thirteen are most likely to be frightened by realistic threats and dangers, violence or threat of violence and / or stories in which children are hurt or threatened.

In addition to the above mentioned violent scenes, there are some scenes in this movie that could scare or disturb children aged eight to thirteen, including the following:

  • Hades defends his actions of leaving Mal's mother because she was impossible to live with. He hated her mother, not her. He also tells her that all he has left is the ability to steal souls.
  • Hades is led into the castle, tied in chains. His hair is on fire. He casts a spell with the amber.

Over thirteeninfo

Children over the age of thirteen are most likely to be frightened by realistic physical harm or threats, molestation or sexual assault and / or threats from aliens or the occult.

Nothing further of concern.

Product placement

  • None noted.

Sexual references

There are some sexual references in this movie, including:

  • Mild flirtation and kissing.
  • Ben and Mal kiss.
  • Evie kisses Doug to waken him from a spell.
  • Jane and Carlos hug.

Nudity and sexual activity

  • None noted.

Use of substances

There is some use of substances in this movie, including:

  • Substances are used to cast spells.

Coarse language

There is some coarse language in this movie, including:

  • One occasion of name calling when Audrey calls Celia a brat.

In a nutshell

Descendants 3 is the last movie in the trilogy with plenty of singing and dancing. However, it does have some dark themes, with Hades as a former god who steals souls and abandoned Mal as a baby, and some conflicting messages between good and evil. It also contains some quite scary scenes, therefore, is not recommended for children under 8 and parental guidance is recommended for children 8 – 10.

The main messages from this movie are that we are stronger together and that all people are capable of good and bad regardless of their background.

Values in this movie that parents may wish to reinforce with their children include:

  • Forgiveness
  • Team work
  • Collaboration
  • Redemption
  • Second chances
  • Not to live in fear
  • Building bridges and breaking down barriers that keep us apart
  • Tolerance and celebration of differences.

This movie could also give parents the opportunity to discuss with their children attitudes and behaviours, and their real-life consequences, such as:

  • There are some mixed messages in this movie that children might find confusing such as:
    • At the start of the movie the villain kids sing a song called ‘It's Good to be Bad’. This isn't actually the case but it is true that no-one is entirely good or bad and that everyone should be accepted for what they are. It's important to know the difference between good and bad.
  • Audrey has been a good person all her life and feels like she hasn't been rewarded as such. She then decides to be a bad person instead. Is there another way Audrey could have resolved her feelings?

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