"Hocus Pocus 2" Film Review
By: Nathaniel Simpson
It has been almost thirty years since Winifred, Sarah, and Mary Sanderson were resurrected on Halloween night, causing havoc and mischief throughout the town of Salem, Massachusetts. Now they're back and better than ever in a great sequel to the cult classic which improves on many aspects of the original and uses nostalgia to intrigue the viewers into watching.
The tale of the Sanderson sisters returning on Halloween night in 1993 is huge throughout modern-day Salem. In a way, they are practically icons to the young people in town, causing many of them to dress up as the spooky sisters in costume contests and to go Trick or Treating. However, when Becca (Whitney Peak) and Izzy (Belissa Escobedo) accidentally summon Winifred (Bette Midler), Sarah (Sarah Jessica Parker), and Mary (Kathy Najimy), they are unsure of how to reverse the spell and take care of the witches.
Now on the loose, the three sisters go throughout town to try and find kids to consume to regain their youthful looks. However, when they come across a campaign flyer for Mayor Traske (Tony Hale), they decide to eliminate him and take revenge on Salem due to his ancestor, Reverend Traske, who wanted to kill the witches when they were younger. Now on a warpath to corrupt Salem and take it for themselves, the two young girls must partner with the Mayor's daughter, Cassie (Lila Buckingham), to stop the witches once and for all.
This may be a very controversial statement, but I honestly enjoyed this film more than I did its predecessor. Both of them have their charms and their own unique aspects that make them special, but I found this one to be much more fun and enjoyable to watch. I really did enjoy the very modern aspect of this movie, with the three ancient witches trying to figure out how to manage being in Salem with all of the gadgets and technology around them.
Midler, Jessica Parker, and Najimy are on top of their game in this installment. They are hilariously wicked as they were in the first film, and we receive much screen-time of the witches in this one. I think that was one of the major faults in the first one is that we didn't see much of the witches. This movie focused heavily on the witches and their quest to summon the spell more than anything, which I really did enjoy. Even after all these years, they have wonderful on-screen chemistry with one another, with many of the jokes and gimmicks from the first film being referenced or called back to in this movie. Plus, I enjoyed the family friendly version of "The Bitch is Back" by Elton John, sung by the Sanderson Sisters in the movie and through the beginning of the end credits.
One thing I would like to mention is that they added more depth and character to the witches, in terms of backstory and feelings. In the first film, they just portrayed these witches as scary beings who go around and eat children. However, this movie shows how they are multi-layered as well, giving reason for their actions throughout the movie. It's not the same case of them running around and trying to eat children, but rather showing how they are a product of their environment.
Another thing that I think this movie did much better than the original was implement likable and fun-to-watch protagonists. A lot of people have complained about Omri Katz not reprising his role as Max Dennison in this film, but I honestly didn't enjoy his character or his sister as much as I did our female protagonists in this movie. At the same time, it shows how these three young girls relate to the witches at the end, and how it could further on the plot line for more films to come.
This movie isn't swinging for the fences or tries to be a cinematic masterpiece, but is simply a well-put together Halloween film for families that is both hilarious and fun to watch. I do think it definitely improves on multiple aspects of the original, as well as keeping that same charm that fans fell in love with all those years ago. There are rumors swirling around that there will be more "Hocus Pocus" movies to come, which I certainly hope they're able to keep this same atmosphere and fun vibe moving forward.