The goofy witches are back. Released on Sept 30, “Hocus Pocus 2” is the second movie in the Hocus Pocus duology. After 29 years of waiting, we have more of the Sanderson sisters crazy antics. With a return of the Sisters, so has most of the original cast. The original Sanderson Sisters, played by Bette Midler, Kathy Najimy and Sarah Jessica Parker, have returned when two girls unknowingly light the black candle and unleash the full power of Winifred, Sarah and Mary Sanderson on Salem once again.
The sequel offers some backstory about the Sanderson Sisters and their roots in magic. We get a glimpse of the trio when they were very young and vulnerable in Salem. The casting for the young Sanderson Sisters was spot on. The actress who played young Winifred, Taylor Henderson, perfectly executed everything die hard fans would expect from a young version of the head sister. This exposition is used to propel the new movie’s plotline in two ways; the witches seek revenge and ultimate power. Although it was beneficial to see the origins of the Sanderson Sisters, it showed a new side of them that did not correlate with what was already established in the original. For example, the aim is no longer eating children’s souls but ultimate witch power. This distracts from the chaotic and funny pursuit for children we have all grown to love.
The modern setting of this movie explores some independent topics that differ from the original. It emphasizes the importance of sisterhood and the power that can come out of this bond, which can be seen through the Sanderson Sisters and the main feminine protagonist group. From the beginning of the movie, the audience is pushed into teenage drama when the main feminine protagonist group is separated due to the relationship between a group member and her boyfriend. This is not developed enough for the audience to care about the group or whether they are unified. The Sanderson Sisters also stress similar dynamics but it is conveyed abruptly, which does not give the audience space to appreciate their sisterly bond.
The movie also focuses on transitions of power. It opens with the Sanderson Sisters receiving witch power and shows another young witch developing her powers. One hopes that Disney will not ruin the legacy of Hocus Pocus by fabricating a narrative that is a continuation of, but is so far removed from what the audience loves like they have done with “The Avengers,” “High School Musical: The Musical: The Series,” “Star Wars” and other franchises. Disney has once again transformed something that was fun, goofy and original and transformed it to make a statement.
Instead of watching three witches struggle against the modernization of society and clumsily achieve their goals, we are met with a different sisterly dynamic. The creators took some liberties with the knowledge of these archaic sisters and their familiarity with modern invention and technology. In many instances, the sisters are seen to understand modern invention, but do not show the comedic trial and error it normally takes them to figure things out. This strips the trio of their comedic presence. The main comedy relief is through Billy Butcherson, Winifred’s ex-lover. The Sanderson Sisters in this movie are presented in a different way that does not align with the events of the previous film.
Overall, “Hocus Pocus 2” is more geared towards little children than the audience who grew up watching the original “Hocus Pocus.” This was evident because it didn’t deliver a continuation of the original story that added to the established character many people grew up to love. There is some comedy because the Sanderson Sisters are just as out of sink as the original. The exposition was really good and it would have been an excellent vein to exploit because it was a way to see more of these witches when they grew up. “Hocus Pocus 2” was about as good as a movie can be with 29 years between the original release. However, with that amount of time, one would think the time to develop a more connected and original sequel would manifest itself.