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Hocus Pocus 2 First Reviews Praise Main Trio's 'Electric Presence'

Kathy Najimy as Mary Sanderson, Bette Midler as Winifred Sanderson, and Sarah Jessica Parker as Sarah Sanderson in Disney's live-action HOCUS POCUS 2, exclusively on Disney+
Kathy Najimy as Mary Sanderson, Bette Midler as Winifred Sanderson, and Sarah Jessica Parker as Sarah Sanderson in Disney's live-action HOCUS POCUS 2, exclusively on Disney+

Matt Kennedy/Courtesy of Disney Enterprises, Inc. Kathy Najimy, Bette Midler and Sarah Jessica Parker in Hocus Pocus 2 (2022)

The first reviews for Hocus Pocus 2 have landed!

The highly anticipated sequel to 1993's Hocus Pocus premieres Friday on Disney+, and critics seem to be in agreement that the Sanderson sisters — Bette Midler, Kathy Najimy and Sarah Jessica Parker — are back to their witchy selves, in the best way.

"What's most interesting about Hocus Pocus 2 (besides its utility as a lesson in how you can't bottle and resell nostalgia) is its star trio: Midler, Parker and Najimy reprise their roles with the same energetic kookiness that made Hocus Pocus beloved. You can tell they're having fun," Lovia Gyarkye writes in her review for The Hollywood Reporter, adding that the three "have an electric presence on screen, their chemistry virtually unchanged in the decades between films."

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But at the same time, she continues, the sequel feels like it "honors [the] history" of the original movie "without knowing quite how to move beyond it ... bear(ing) the markings of a struggle between embracing existing fans and courting new ones."

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Hocus Pocus 2
Hocus Pocus 2

Disney Plus Hocus Pocus 2 (2022)

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According to IGN's Amelia Emberwing, "The original cast" — which includes Midler, 76, Najimy, 65, Parker, 57, as well as Doug Jones as zombie Billy Butcherson — "return to remind us why Hocus Pocus became a cult classic."

"The original cast step into their former roles like they're well broken-in witch boots, and all the new players make admirable additions to the Hocus Pocus franchise," Emberwing adds.

"There isn't a lot that can go wrong when you put three fabulous character actresses onscreen together (yes, Sarah Jessica Parker was once a character actress!), but you have to give them a little something to work with," IndieWire's Jude Dry writes.

Dry goes on to call Hocus Pocus 2 "a totally satisfactory sequel" but notes "the plot is basically the same and the jokes mere updates to the original."

Although that might not necessary be a bad thing. Says Dry, "Why mess with a good thing when you can simply recreate it?"

RELATED VIDEO: Hannah Waddingham Says People Will "Fall in Love" with Hocus Pocus 2

Other reviews are a bit more critical, like from USA Today's Brian Truitt, who says, "The witches are done dirty, yet the youth movement also isn't well served."

"With its well-trodden fish-out-of-water and teen-movie tropes, Hocus Pocus 2 succeeds in showing that not every popular movie needs a starry sequel decades after the fact," Truitt adds.

Hocus Pocus 2 is set "29 years since someone lit the Black Flame Candle and resurrected the 17th-century sisters, and they are looking for revenge," according to a plot summary by Disney.

"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 Hallows' Eve," the summary adds.

Joining Midler, Parker, Najimy and Jones, 62, the new cast includes Whitney Peak, Belissa EscobedoTony HaleSam Richardson and Hannah Waddingham.

Hocus Pocus 2 is streaming Friday on Disney+.