‘Hocus Pocus 2’ Review: “A Fun But Not Good Legacy Sequel”
Legacy sequels have become a very popular thing in 2022. Early in the year, we got follow-ups to Scream and Top Gun, and now in October, we have follow-ups to Hellraiser and Hocus Pocus. These sequels are usually met with mixed reviews, often leaning way more negative. In the days since its release on Disney+, it’s clear that Hocus Pocus 2 suffers from the same fate. While it’s a fun movie with a good message for kids, it fails on many technical levels.
Hocus Pocus 2 starts off with the young Sanderson sisters, Winifred (Taylor Henderson), Mary (Nina Kitchen), and Sarah (JuJu Journey Brener) in an old Salem town. After Winifred turns down the proposed marriage to John Pritchett by the town’s Pastor Reverend Traske (Tony Hale), we see how the sisters gained their powers by meeting The Mother Witch (Hannah Waddingham), who gives them the Book of Spells.
Fast forward to the present and we find our protagonist Becca (Whitney Peak), a young girl obsessed with all things witch related. She has her friend group including Izzy (Belissa Escobedo) and Cassie (Lilia Buckingham) that’s slowly falling apart. They are growing apart as Becca’s 16th birthday falls upon them. While Becca and Izzy have the same plans, as usual, Cassie is having a party of her own. With the unintentional aid of Gilbert (Sam Richardson), the man living in the Sandersons’ old home, Becca and Izzy end up resurrecting the sisters. Now in adult form, sisters Winifred (Bette Midler), Mary (Kathy Najimy), and Sarah (Sarah Jessica Parker) are looking for revenge on the Traske descendant that’s now mayor and to stay alive even after sunrise.
Hocus Pocus 2 is a very fun story. This film doesn’t follow the same beats as the original which is refreshing because that’s where a lot of legacy sequels fumble. There’s just a lack of enthusiasm and all-around energy in this film. It feels very bland and boring, there’s definitely a good movie here, but it’s not this final cut. It’s still a fun Disney movie because there’s an adventure and a great lesson behind the movie. Anne Fletcher’s directing doesn’t seem to pull the best out of her cast here and there’s just a lack of flow in the film.
The cinematography from Elliot Davis starts off exceptionally well as the Raven guides us into Salem. The more the film continues, it suffers from being shot digital and not film. The editing is really good though, in Hocus Pocus 2, it’s possibly the best thing about the movie. The cuts, the flashbacks, and just how everything is mixed. The bit of flow that’s alive in this film is from the editing. The choreography and soundtrack are really great. The sisters keep the energy from 1993 alive, and it works well.
The cast is either very meh or incredible. Midler, Najimy, and Parker are still up to their old tricks, very fun and a bright spot as always. The young cast that plays the sisters all matched their character to the fullest. The opening scene is great. Richardson kind of carries the film in each scene he’s in, and Doug Jones back as Billy Butcherson was wonderful. Peak is a good protagonist, but that’s about as good as the acting gets. The rest of it is flat and just lacks energy. It isn’t even close to the acting we’ve begun getting from streaming originals. The acting or lack thereof does not help this film one bit.
It was incredible to see them bring back some of the original actors, and how they continue to showcase their talent. We have stepped into an era of film where companies rely on the brand rather than the actual product. Hocus Pocus 2 is an unfortunate victim. It isn’t enough to have the name of a childhood classic in the title, you still have to produce a watchable and rewatchable product. Sadly, while this is something I don’t regret watching. I wouldn’t rewatch this film. It had all the potential to be a really good movie, but it suffers from so many different things that ruin the product in full. – Rascal F. Kennedy
Rating – 5.5/10
Hocus Pocus 2 is now streaming on Disney+.