I can see why Hocus Pocus became such a cult classic but that doesn’t mean I have to share that same sentiment and agree; while I can’t vouch for that, I can vouch for the movies wholesome family spirit……which is why I grew skeptical immediately upon news breaking of a Hocus Pocus 2.
Coming from someone who only JUST liked the first film, this was….surprisingly alright.
Kenny Ortega is nowhere to be found, so directing duties fell to Anne Fletcher, the director behind the first Step Up movie. While Kenny had a proficient balance between the ridiculous and improbable goofiness, Anne’s attempt at replicating that pays off dividends. She doesn’t take many liberties with the story behind what we’re already familiar with and the few she does aren’t severely damaging or annoying.
The ambiance and tone is very out there and ridiculously cheesy as expected and the pacing is respectively leveled out to help accommodate that. Cinematography and editing are fairly basic in the grand scheme of things but there are two or three cool shots that appear on occasion to avoid anything looking to pedestrian.
Visual effects are much more polished with the exception of a few cheesy green screen effects, it actually stays consistent with its themes on family and snarky sisterhood both of which culminate in a surprisingly hearty climax and once more, Bette Midler, Kathy Midj and Sarah Jessica Parker own every bleeding second on screen. They don’t have the same bounce in their step as they did 30 years ago but their chemistry is still on point and they continue to bounce well off each other.
With that being said, this is the most straightforward, by-the-numbers, here we go again sequel one could possible hope to make; it is almost an exact retread of the first movie only with more updated settings and a few synthetic bells and whistles attached. Halloween night, a trio accidentally brings the sisters back, they roam around floundering about with new technology, they sing a song, hypnotize the crowd, try to capture kids to receive eternal youth, they’re defeated, a lesson is learned, cut to credits. A few liberties were taken at poking fun with some elements of the first film but most of them either severely hit or miss or are just utterly confusing.
More issues from the first film are regurgitated here as well: it is once again cursed by an unwavering sense of not knowing where to go despite being predictable as all hell, fermented cliches are everywhere, more inconsistencies rise from under the ground, it was destined to be much softer, safer and more sentimental than in its earlier incarnation by default and the biggest sin in my eyes…..energy is surprisingly lacking.
Don’t get me wrong, I chuckled a lot, to my eternal shame, but the original film had a lot more energy, ebb and flow to its more choreographed scenes than here. I’m glad nothing in this movie felt like it was on autopilot but you can never fully get rid of that tingling sensation that something felt aloof.
By far the best thing I can praise this movie for is that it never bored me; but I feel as if I would’ve enjoyed this a tad more if they actually based this on the sequel book……and it flabbergasts me that they tried harder on THIS than Pinocchio.