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‘Awful To The Core’: New ‘Hocus Pocus 2’ Gets Mixed Critic Reviews As It Hits Disney+

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Hocus Pocus 2” is partially relying on millennial nostalgia for success, but it seems like that may not be enough for some reviewers who are calling it a big miss.

The original 1993 film was a box office bust, but over time “Hocus Pocus” has taken on the status of cult classic and is considered one of the quintessential Halloween movies. Now almost three decades later, Bette Midler, Sarah Jessica Parker, and Kathy Najimy return to portray the wicked Sanderson sisters once again.

A synopsis on Rotten Tomatoes says, “It’s been 29 years since someone lit the Black Flame Candle and resurrected the 17th-century sisters, and they are looking for revenge. Now it is up to three high-school students to stop the ravenous witches from wreaking a new kind of havoc on Salem before dawn on All Hallow’s Eve.”

However, some reviewers don’t believe this newest effort, which was released on Disney+ September 30, lives up to the original. 

New York Post reviewer Johnny Oleksinski called the original “a very bad movie” and said that the sequel is “also awful to the core, but charmless and too low stakes to keep our interest.” He said it contains a lot of references to the original, which gets old fast. Plus, he thought it was hard to find sympathy for these characters.

Oleksinski notes the “through-line of feminism and the power of sisterhood, which would make sense if this was ‘The Crucible,’ but these are supposed to be real witches who murder children to maintain their youthfulness. Not quite fodder for a redemption story.”

His final verdict dubbed this sequel “lousy, lame millennial nostalgia bait.”

The Irish Times had a similar take. “The insistent life lessons about sisterly bonding will drive the most saintly among us to satanic practices. When shall we three meet again? With all due respect to Midler and company, how about never?” that reviewer shared.

The Guardian’s Benjamin Lee blamed the flaws on the curse of the sequel. “Like many fan favorite follow-ups, ‘Hocus Pocus 2’ is stuck, trapped somewhere between different times, audiences and tones, trying to do so much yet, in this instance, achieving so very little,” he wrote

Meanwhile, he contradicts the Post reviewer, arguing that the three witches aren’t evil enough this time around. 

“While the first film began with the three witches sucking the life out of a small child, this one sets them up as radical girlbosses (they are later referred to as ‘ahead of their time’ and ‘misunderstood’), a strangely miscalculated softening (notably not a single child is murdered this time around),” Lee writes. “Is it bad to want baddies to still be … bad?”

Not all the critics hated it though. The movie currently has a 64% critic rating on Rotten Tomatoes, with a slightly better audience rating at 74%.

“The Sandersons’ shtick … is no more clever or inspired than it was in the first movie, but Midler, Najimy and Parker remain such game performers, so adept at vampy antics and menacing facial contortions, that thou wilt not really care,” the LA Times reviewer writes.

“It manages to capture the same hokey magic of the original while creatively updating its humor,” The New York Times wrote of the flick.

“Hocus Pocus” is available now on Disney+.

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