‘Hocus Pocus 2’ conjures nostalgia  but can’t beat the original film

Ramona Shekhar , Editor-in-Chief

There is no other way to celebrate Halloween without revisiting the iconic witchcraft comedy, “Hocus Pocus.” After 29 years of this beloved and ageless cult classic, Winifred (Bette Midler), Mary (Kathy Najimy), and Sarah (Sarah Jessica Parker) have returned to reprise their roles to spook and bewitch audiences in the highly anticipated sequel, “Hocus Pocus 2” on Disney+.

The film opens with a flashback of 1693 Salem, where the Sanderson sisters, Winifred (Taylor Henderson), Mary (Nina Kitchen), and Mary (Juju Journey Brener) are young children exploring childhood and adolescence through witchcraft. Since these sisters live in the village as orphans, Winifred is expected to marry a young man, while her sisters are sent to live elsewhere. She refuses and runs away with her sisters, where they discover their witch powers.

The film advances to present day Salem where friends Becca (Whitney Peak) and Izzy (Belissa Escobedo) are preparing for their Halloween without their long-time friend, Cassie (Lilia Buckingham), who grew distant from the two. Becca and Izzy visit the local magic shop run by Gilbert (Sam Richardson), who gives them a black candle which they light, and, as a result, the Sanderson sisters are resurrected.

While it does not live up to the spirit of the original, the sequel does deliver a heartwarming tale that brings closure to the original that can be enjoyed by younger audiences and future generations. The sequel pokes a few references to the original, adding a little bit of humor along the way.

The film did an excellent job with including a more diverse ensemble to the story and conveying an important message about friendship and love to the audience. However, the sequel fell flat with its characters and storyline. It attempts to soften and humanize the antagonists, who are out to commit sinister deeds and consume the lives of children for eternal youth.

In regards to the cast, the acting by Taylor Henderson as Young Winifred was magnificent. Her mannerisms and gestures were almost identical to Midler’s.

The limitations of this movie is that it does not possess the lively persona and spooky elements that made the original so great. Regardless, this film is far from lackluster and is worth watching, especially if you have younger siblings. If you haven’t already, go stream “Hocus Pocus 2” on Disney+.