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Making history by casting the first non-binary lead character in one of their movies, Disney continues to promote acceptance and inclusivity through their third installment of the “Zombies” franchise, released July 15 on Disney+.

“Zombies 3” brings aliens into the city of Seabrook, which houses humans, zombies and now werewolves following their introduction in “Zombies 2.” As we watch Addison (Meg Donnelly), Zed (Milo Manheim) and other familiar faces enter their final year at Seabrook High school, we begin to wonder if Addison will finally find where she belongs, and the aliens want?

SPOILERS AHEAD

The film begins with an animated introduction, similar to the first two. Once the film transitions to live-action, back-and-forth banter reintroduces us to the characters we know and love.

Quickly throwing us into the plot, extraterrestrials begin to descend on the citizens of Seabrook, leading us into the first song of the film, “Alien Invasion.” This song starts the movie off strong, with verses from most of the lead and side characters, continuing to invite us into their personalities.

Their killer dance moves set the tone for the entire movie. Compared to the two entrance songs, the song and choreography are on another level and set high expectations for the rest of the movie.

Onto the song I can’t get out of my head, “Ain’t No Doubt About It” follows Zed and Addison as they continuously worry about their future, yet continue to claim that “it’s gonna be fine,” which is something us college students relate to a little too much.

The choreography in this scene is in my opinion some of the best out of all the movies, as the couple makes their way through the city and the school, moving with the camera. Not to mention my favorite Addison outfit is worn during this song, consisting of a light blue jacket with matching checkered pants and chunky white sneakers.

Things heat up as we delve more into the alien plotline and the werewolves learn that the visitors attempted to steal their moonstone, the source of their power. This transitions into “Come on Out,” which I wasn’t a fan of upon first listen but it has grown on me since. This song implements techno aspects into it, capitalizing on the extraterrestrial view of the film.

A noteworthy lyric is when Willa (Chandler Kinney) tells the aliens to “call your mommyship,” which funnily enough is voiced by RuPaul.

Dare I say, “Exceptional Zed” is the best song Zed has had throughout the entire franchise. From the beginning, he displayed himself as a highly confident and ambitious person, something this song reinforces as the entire town is shown supporting him.

The song begins with the talk-singing we’re familiar with when it comes to Zed, and then Manheim belts all of the reasons he’s “exceptional Zed,” with his friends and family members lifting him up. Slowing down towards the end, the song later heats up as the cast finishes with a strong medley and dance number.

Shortly after, the song is reprised and I’d be lying if I said this didn’t make me emotional. Calming piano backs up Manheim as he sings about his family and friends taking pride in their differences and that although he is different, “who that’s exceptional isn’t?”

Since the first installment, Addison has been on her own journey to discover herself, something she finally achieves in this movie. After embracing her alien heritage, Addison begins “I’m Finally Me,” which carries a similar tone to “Stand” from the first movie.

Donnelly continues to impress me with her insane vocals, beginning the song as a slow ballad and later performs it as a power ballad. Tears were brought to my eyes as Addison showed us she finally found herself and she is “ready to make history.”

Addison later leaves Zed and everyone else behind to travel with the aliens, which leads us into the final version of Addison and Zed’s iconic ballad, “Someday.”

Unfortunately, this version didn’t turn out the way I had hoped and left me feeling disappointed. In the first two movies, “Someday” is a duet sung by Addison and Zed, discussing their unconventional relationship and how “someday, this could be this could be ordinary.” Still, the newest version contains verses from most main and side characters.

While I enjoy the idea that a song that was once for two has been turned into a song of hope for all citizens of Seabrook, I was hoping we would get one final solemn duet between the couple. The versions from the first movie will always be my favorites.

I also want to note the insane amounts of chemistry Donnelly and Manheim have together, making each Addison and Zed scene realistic, touching and fun to watch, something Disney failed to do with Mal and Ben from Descendants. 

Going out with a bang, the entire town gets together one last time to perform “Nothing But Love,” promoting their message of acceptance and being yourself. Sung by Donnelly and Manheim, the line “If you want a chance to change the world, you gotta dare to be the change” further shows young generations how they can make a positive impact on the world.

In one of my favorite parts of the movie, A-Spen (Terry Hu), and Willa have gotten together and sing about how “the stars shine so much brighter now I’m sharing them with you.” Hu, a non-binary actor, portrays A-Spen, the first leading non-binary character in a Disney movie.

I wish these positive messages were around when I was younger. These movies show that while others try to tell you who you are, push through and show them who you are and that you won’t change for anyone but yourself.

As an avid fan of High School Musical (I’m talking “Troy cardboard cutout” fan), seeing same-sex couples and non-binary people included and accepted in the franchise nearly everyone’s childhoods revolved around at such a young age would have helped me and many other fans accept themselves sooner.

“Zombies 3” leaves the franchise at an ending point or starting point if they ever decide to make a fourth film. And if they don’t, they ended Seabrook’s story on a high note that left fans pleased with new characters, music and choreography.

If you haven’t seen any of the “Zombies” movies, fix that and watch all three of them on Disney+. Many people assume they are cheesy and childish. While parts of them are, you can’t deny their good music, choreography and overwhelmingly positive messages.

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