The first Hocus Pocus made its premiere almost 30 years ago and became a staple of the Halloween season for its memorable cast and nostalgic quality that it brings back every fall. On Sept. 30, “Hocus Pocus 2” was released on Disney+ and brought the beloved story back with a modern storyline.
The focus of the sequel is on the original Sanderson Sisters: Winifred, played by Bette Midler, Mary, played by Kathy Najimy and Sarah, played by Sarah Jessica Parker, as they fight to save Salem against Becca (Whitney Peak), Izzy (Belissa Escobedo) and Cassie (Lilia Buckingham). Furthermore, we meet enthusiastic new players like Gilbert (Sam Richardson), who is fantastic, and we see returning old favorites like Billy Butcherson (Doug Jones).
While the old cast seamlessly transitions into their previous roles like well-worn witch shoes, the new performers all make admirable contributions to the Hocus Pocus series.
The Sanderson Sisters have resurfaced with brand new naughty ideas and a completely new ensemble after evolving into a cherished cult favorite over the years. We still remember how these witches were able to put a spell on us in the first place, even though it is plagued with some bad CGI.
In the sequel, Becca and Izzy, two Salem teenagers, are getting ready to celebrate Halloween and Becca’s sixteenth birthday in 2022, 29 years after the Sanderson sisters were brought back to life by the Black Flame Candle in the original “Hocus Pocus.” However, they decline an invitation to a party from their estranged friend Cassie Traske. Gilbert, who used to own the Sanderson cottage, welcomes Becca and Izzy to his magic store and gives her a candle for their customary birthday celebration. Once the candle is lit, Becca and Izzy realize it is another Black Flame Candle. The candle brings the Sanderson sisters back to life once again because it is a full moon and they are both single women.
The usage of green screening is the single significant problem in this movie. It is obvious from the film that it was not filmed in Salem. Even while there were portions of the original that were definitely shot in a studio, at least some of them were shot in authentic Massachusetts graves. Occasionally, it feels a little harsh that this appears like a Disney Channel production, especially with the misuse of dull brown filters that do not reflect the Halloween atmosphere.
It’s still possible to compare legacy sequels to their predecessors, but “Hocus Pocus” and “Hocus Pocus 2” are virtually apples and oranges. Although they share the same stars, the two have drastically distinct focuses. The original’s biggest appeal was its non-witch human protagonists, Max, Dani and Allison. Although Becca, Izzy and Cassie get a lot of screen time in “Hocus Pocus 2,” it still appears that the Sanderson Sisters are the main focus here.
The film treats us with a cold open that features Winifred, Sarah and Mary as children in the 1600s, where they are banished from their village for rejecting the authority of the Church and encounter the Mother Witch, who teaches them the ways of dark magic and how to be young forever by stealing the souls of young kids. And without giving anything away, the ending has a callback to the beginning, establishing a real emotional bond between the three witches despite their wickedness and annoyance with each other.
Midler, Najimy and Parker all slip back seamlessly into their roles and once again have great comedic chemistry with one another, not losing a single ounce of their energy after 29 years. You can choose to believe it is due to cynical, merchandise-selling intentions or the fact that more stories are being written from the villain’s perspective. In either case, it benefits the story and the new player’s narrative arc. The Sanderson Sisters’ involvement also results in a lot more musical moments than we saw in the last film. Even if their other songs are amusing enough, the main song steals the stage.
Those who have a nostalgic attachment to the original film may say some of the scenes that serve as callbacks are a little far-fetched. Though “Hocus Pocus 2” is in no way going to be considered a classic, it’s still definitely a fun movie to check out with Halloween right around the corner.
Excellent review. Enjoyed it