‘The return of the witches 2’ (2022), review: An exercise in well-understood nostalgia on Disney Plus with a leading trio that casts a spell on anyone

Nostalgia is a bad adviser. It is the one that tells us that films like ‘Inspector Gadget’ were hilarious or that they remember ‘Space Jam’ so fondly that Warners came to believe that it was a good idea to make a desperate sequel. It is also the one that has marked ‘The return of the witches’ (better known, in this globalizing process, as ‘hocus pocus‘) What one of the landmarks of the 90s. That’s why it’s so hard to be fair with its sequel.

the witches are back

Few movies are more iconic than ‘The Return of the Witches’. Three actresses at their best having fun like never before starring in a film rather soft that was lost a bit in its own argument. Seen today, she feels imperfect, but with something impossible to replicate: pure magic. The second part is exactly the opposite: it has a strong script, coherent dramatic progression, strong characters and surprising plot twists, but It lacks that last shot of charisma to be as mythical as that one.

In other words: ‘The return of the witches 2’ is better technically finished than its first part, but it is not better. Anne Fletcher knows how to encapsulate everything that she made the original good and tries to multiply it by two. She doesn’t make it, but along the way she does manage to hit a triple somersault with a pirouette: that the sequel to an untouchable film shot three decades later is, at least, worthy.

Hocus Pocus 2

The main problem with this sequel (available on Disney+) is his own self-awareness: she knows that due to her own condition she will always live in the shadow of the original and she doesn’t quite have enough fun with the characters to be distinguishable by herself.

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Here we have all the necessary elements to check: the original actresses, the black cat, the book, the black candle, the zombie, the initial flashback… Only at the end, in the last act, the film dares to deviate from the established path of the sequel-remake undercover, giving some originality to the whole. The hardest fans of the saga have gotten angry anyway, so, for that matter, I wish I had tried less to please them and more to establish some new concepts that in the end are frankly weak.

witches out of water

It is not that without these concepts the film would be a disaster, far from it: it simply it was… more of the same. Same story line (a virgin awakens the Sandersons, who come back and find a way to make themselves young again), but this time with more “fish out of water” jokes: 17th century witches discovering cell phones, anti-aging creams, Alexa or, in a twist between the bizarre and the hilarious, the Roomba. If you like this type of humor (for me, for example, it always works for me), you are going to enjoy it beautifully.

hocus pocus

It is curious how, although only thirty years have passed, ‘The return of the witches 2’ it is also a testament to the changing mindset of modern life. Not just in the obvious (more representation and inclusiveness), but in the very conception of the film. If the original tape was to the point, this sequel is more suited to the current cinematographic rhythm: It’s less focused but at the same time more cohesive and leaves moments for narrative scatter, including two captivating musical numbers and a whole subplot about the mayor (the ever-fabulous Tony Hale) trying to get a candy apple.

But, of course, if ‘The Return of the Witches 2’ is the worthy film that it is instead of just a Disney jackpot it is thanks to a leading trio that continues to be absolutely captivating, directed by the very vigorous Bette Midler, who at 76 has a great time playing Winnie again with an energy that goes beyond the screen. The sheer force with which she sings the Sanderson sisters’ comeback theme alone is already worth this sequel to exist.

Added to this strength is the talent of the makeup, wardrobe and hairdressing team, which means that we can only notice that the years have passed at very specific moments: otherwise, all three look like they’re straight out of 1993.

Teenage spells and potions

‘The return of the witches 2’ is the exact opposite of ‘Obi-Wan Kenobi’: an exercise in well-understood nostalgia that broadens and enhances the film mythical aware that it will never be as remembered as that one but, despite everything, wants to give everything so that the viewer has a good time. Is it perfect? Under no circumstances: he lacks soul, honesty, better jokes and protagonists – apart from himThe three sisters- more charismatic. But is it a simple mechanism made by imposition of a check from Disney? I think not.

It is tempting to review this film and start talking about the original being second to nonethat they have destroyed my childhood or that Disney fails again with a tape made with a template, but it would be untruthful to gain a few positive comments.

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To ‘The return of the witches 2’ he lacks charisma in any character outside of the three sisters, and the plotespecially towards the end, tries to do an absurd redemption exercise, but at least tries to change the pre-established script instead of staying in the simple exercise of cheap nostalgia.

It’s very likely that we’ll never hear from Becca and her friends again, who only serve as one-off interchangeable leads, but I hope I know more about that trickster leading trioeven if everything doesn’t end up fitting into place as naturally as in the 1993 film.

Aware that within thirty years it will be just a side note when talking about the mythical cinema of the 90s‘The return of the witches 2’ tries to give everything it can without destabilizing the status quo or causing waves of outrage among fans. and he gets it, with a final product as sufficient as it is forgettable. Sometimes, it’s all we can wish for.

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