The Witches Are Back

“Hocus Pocus 2” is directed by Anne Fletcher and is a sequel to the 1993 original film. It sees Bette Midler, Sarah Jessica Parker, Kathy Najimy & Doug Jones all return to their respected roles. Newcomers include Sam Richardson, Whitney Peak, Belissa Escobedo, Lilia Buckingham, Tony Hale & Hannah Waddingham. This film takes place 29 years after the events of the original film and is the first to be released exclusively on Disney+ without a major theater release and wasn’t part of the dreaded early access feature that earlier films had such as “Mulan” & “Black Widow” suffered during the COVID-19 pandemic.

In 1653 Salem, a young Winnifred Sanderson and her 2 sisters, Sarah & Mary, banished by the Preacher (Hale) but the sisters run off to the forbidden forest where they meet Mother Witch (Waddingham). Mother Witch proceeds to give them the infamous spell book (previously seen in the first film) and thus their reign as a witch coven begins which leads to the events of the first film. 29 years after Sanderson sisters returned to Salem, the city of Salem is having their annual Halloween carnival, 2 teenagers, Becca (Peak) and Izzy (Escobedo) meet at the Sanderson sisters’ old cot which has now been turn in to a glorified gift shop, run by Gilbert the Great (Richardson). It is Becca’s 16th birthday, and he gives her a ritualistic candle in honor of her birthday. The girls go to the Forbidden Forest to have what they call a friendship ritual only to realize that the candle that Gilbert gave them, is another “Black Flamed” candle. Once lit by a virgin, Winnie (Midler), Sarah (Parker) & Mary (Najimy) all return to Salem. The witches return and learn that rather than drain the life forms of the children in Salem, use a cursed spell to consume all life in the world. Now, with the Sanderson sister back in Salem, Becca & Izzy must do all they can to save themselves but also saved everyone in Salem and possibly the world. In the words of Max Dennison (the protagonist of the first film), “We’re talking about 3 hags against the 20th century. How bad can it be?”.

I’ve always had an issue with movies that release sequels years apart. They go both ways, terrible like “Dumb & Dumber To”, “Indiana Jones & the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull”, “Zoolander 2”, etc. or they are fantastic like “Rambo”, “Halloween” (2018) and most recently “Top Gun: Maverick”.  “Hocus Pocus 2” was teased for a while but I always ignore those until I see a trailer from Disney. This was a pretty good. It felt the same yet different and, in a few ways, much more entertaining than the first film. The only issue that found with film is the storyline. It’s almost the exact same as the previous film. The sisters return, run amuck throughout, there was a musical number and then the final showdown. Almost a shot for shot remake with little twists and turns here and there. The cast has amazing chemistry and of course stellar performances from the 3 witches. This movie reminded me of those old school 90s Halloween movies like “Halloweentown”, “Casper” & of course “Hocus Pocus”. It was a bit disappointing that none of 3 original protagonists made an appearance but nonetheless it was still an entertaining film.

Overall, this was a fun, entertaining film. It has the same type of merit that the first film but also can be enjoyed by a younger demographic. The only complaint I had with this film is the storyline and the shot for shot retelling f the same story as the first film. Other than that, if you go into this movie with the right mind mindset, you’ll have a good time. If you’re a fan of the original film, you’ll enjoy it. It was nice seeing the 3 witches back together, they were great, looked amazing. It was liked they hadn’t lost a step from the first film.

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