New from Kevin Wozniak on Kevflix: Movie Review: Hocus Pocus 2

 

It seems a virgin at Disney lit the Black Flame Candle because the Sanderson sisters are back! Whiney, Sarah, and Mary have returned to lure children and stay young forever in Hocus Pocus 2, an entertaining and worthy sequel to the 1993 childhood classic.

It’s been 29 years since Max, Danny, and Allison lit the Black Flame Candle and resurrected the trio of 17th-century witches, and stopped them from causing mayhem throughout the town of Salem. The town, which takes its history and its love for Halloween very seriously, is obsessed with the Sanderson sisters and even more so after the stories of what happened in 1993.

Now, in present-day Salem, three friends, Becca (Whitney Peak) Cassie (Lilia Buckingham), and Izzy (Belissa Escobedo) get tricked by a local magic shop owner (Sam Richardson) and light the Black Flame Candle on Halloween night, resurrecting the Sanderson sisters (Bette Midler, Sarah Jessica Parker, Kathy Najimi) who are hellbent on getting revenge for what happened to them 29 years ago. It is then up to Becca, Cassie, and Izzy, with the help of some others, to stop the Sandersons from taking over Salem before the sun rises.

Legacy sequels have become a popular genre as of late. It feels like every year we get a few sequels to movies that came out ten, twenty, Just this year we got Scream, the fifth entry in the Scream franchise, and Top Gun: Maverick, a sequel to the 1986 high-flying action film. For a legacy sequel to be successful, it must accomplish one of two things: it must be a movie that has the same vibe and spirit as the original or previous film, or the film must have a completely different vision from the original film. Films like Top Gun: Maverick, Scream, and 2017’s Blade Runner 2049 are great examples of the former, as they are films that have the same spirit as the original film. A film like Mad Max: Fury Road would be an example of the latter. Fury Road felt completely different from the previous Mad Max films in terms of its vision, scale, and look, that it almost feels like a separate entity from the film series. These films are some of the more successful legacy sequels.

Kathy Najimi (left), Sarah Jessica Parker (middle) and Better Midler (right) in Hocus Pocus 2
Kathy Najimi (left), Sarah Jessica Parker (middle) and Better Midler (right) in Hocus Pocus 2

But not all legacy sequels are good. What makes a legacy sequel bad, like the most recent Jurassic World trilogy, is that they lean too much on the nostalgia factor of the previous film or films and feel like empty, soulless cash-grabs that were made not because they had a new or interesting take on a franchise or a beloved movie, but because they were easy money.

But fear not, because Hocus Pocus is an example of a good legacy sequel. Hocus Pocus 2 does what all good sequels should do: it gives the characters more depth and more of a story, it elevates the stakes, and it features bigger set pieces. Hocus Pocus 2 gives us more about the Sanderson sisters by kicking the movie off when they are younger, showing them in 1700s Salem, and adding more depth to them as characters beyond just wanting to steal children to stay young. Our new characters are more developed and have more going on with the plot than Max, Danny, and Allison had in the original, and there are stronger themes in the film about the bonds of friendship.

The best aspect of Hocus Pocus 2 is that it knows why we’re all watching the film: the Sanderson sisters. We all want to see Whiney, Sarah, and Mary and their shenanigans across Salem and there is no shortage of that here. All the credit in the world goes to Midler, Parker, and Najimi, who don’t miss a beat. They look spectacular rocking their capes and gowns and picking up exactly where they left off nearly thirty years ago. They’re funny, goofy, sometimes creepy, and even get a couple of musical numbers in. Much like the people in Salem, we love the Sanderson sisters, and seeing them on screen again is one of the great cinematic joys I have had in 2022.

Hocus Pocus 2 will satisfy those who are fans of the original 1993 films while also being a good watch for kids who may not have seen the original. It’s a film the entire family will enjoy and a fun film regardless of your opinion of the original film.

 

 

 

 

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