A review of ‘Hocus Pocus 2’

By: Julia Sikorski Roehsner

Warning – spoilers

Image taken from: https://disneyplusoriginals.

Fans of the original ‘Hocus Pocus’ movie, which was released in 1993, to great success, were likely excited by the announcement of a sequel. ‘Hocus Pocus 2’ was confirmed as in production in December of 2020, and was released to Disney+ on September 30th of this year.

‘Hocus Pocus 2’ runs about an hour and 45 minutes long. Its story line picks up three decades after the events of the first movie and is set in the present day—with a quick visit to Winifred Sanderson’s past in 1653 Salem.

The viewer learns that she was banished from the town after she refused to consent to a marriage arranged by the despicable Reverend Traske. To avoid separation, Winifred and her sisters, Mary, and Sarah, venture into the nearby forest, into which the people of Salem are too scared to pursue them.

There, the sisters encounter Mother Witch. At first wanting to eat the girls to preserve her youth and beauty, she stops when she senses Winifred’s witchly power.

Mother Witch gifts Winifred a magic spellbook—recognizable as Book from the first movie—as it is Winifred’s sixteenth birthday, but warns her to never cast the power-gaining spell of Magicae Maxima. She also makes the mysterious comment that a witch is nothing without her coven.

The flashback ends, and the viewer is soon introduced to a new cast of characters. First and foremost is a teenager named Becca. Not only is it Halloween, but it is also the day of Becca’s sixteenth birthday. She and her friend Izzy are preparing for their customary night of fun celebration, though without the company of their third friend, Cassie Traske, who has become distant in the wake of her new relationship.

The two girls pay a visit to their favorite magic shop, located in the former home of the Sanderson sisters, and Becca receives a candle as a birthday gift from the store owner, Gilbert. Per tradition, the pair then venture into the forest.

Upon lighting the candle, Becca and Izzy discover that the 1993 banishment of the witches—now a local legend—was not so permanent after all; the candle turns out to be another Black Flame Candle.

Winifred, Mary, and Sarah are back once more.

Thus begins an evening full of adventure and twists and turns as Becca and Izzy do their best to escape the Sandersons and get rid of them once and for all.

Pulled into the mix are Gilbert, who turns out to have tricked the friends and is now facing the consequences, and Cassie, whose father is the spitting image of his ancestor—Reverend Traske. There is also an appearance by the familiar corpse, Billy Butcherson. And, of course, what is Winifred Sanderson without her beloved Book?

It’s only one night, but a lot can happen in one night when there’s magic involved.

Perhaps controversially, I found ‘Hocus Pocus 2’ pretty enjoyable. Common complaints that I’ve heard about it are that it’s not up to the standards of the original ‘Hocus Pocus,’ that it lacks that same feeling of Halloween spookiness, that it’s disappointing that more of the original cast didn’t return, and that the plot itself was boring.

I can understand these complaints, but they were things that didn’t bother me personally. I am not a longtime fan of ‘Hocus Pocus,’ so nostalgia was less of a factor for me when watching ‘Hocus Pocus 2.’ I also didn’t mind that it was aimed at a wider, and potentially younger, audience.

I particularly liked the cinematography and editing. The scenes were crisp and clean, and the coloring followed a consistently pleasing color scheme.

Overall, it was a light and comedic watch.

However, there were a few moments where I found myself frustrated at the characters for not realizing the obvious, and some of the scenes felt a bit forced, both in storyline and in acting.

Therefore, I give ‘Hocus Pocus 2’ a three and a half out of five star rating. As mentioned earlier, you can watch this movie on Disney+

The Artemis Program: A multi billion dollar pipe dream

By: Reed Morris

Once again, we find ourselves revisiting an old topic. Much like my James Webb articles, this covers space exploration. The difference between the two is the successfulness. 

The Artemis Program is NASA’s newest project, hoping to get humans back on the moon. Conceived in 2010, the Artemis Program had a lot of support and dreamers behind it. It was initially scheduled for its first test flight in 2017, but here we are in 2022 with still no launch. The failures of Artemis and its SLS launch system have created an environment of high costs, short budgets, and many sad space fans like me. 

Where we run into problems

There are multiple issues with NASA’s current dream for lunar inhabitants. First off, we’ll have to cover the issues that are seen on paper. The rocket is NOT cheap. The SLS is a new launch system that is supposed to be able to carry the crew and supplies needed to start a lunar surface base, and a lunar orbital station. While it IS capable of such feats, flying it comes at a sizable cost. It runs off of several RS-25 rocket engines, which cost nearly 150 million dollars to make, for a SINGLE USE engine, in a time when private companies have cheaper multi-use engines. While the SLS is one of the heaviest lifting rockets in existence, its 4.1 billion dollar-per-launch price tag is something that cannot be ignored. 

The aforementioned 150 million dollar engines – Image taken from: https://arstechnica.com/science/2022/02/nasa-delays-sls-rocket-rollout-says-launch-date-is-¯_ツ_-¯/

The second and more severe problem is that Artemis 1 has been delayed over and over again due to malfunctions in the SLS’s overpriced engines. On August 29th, 2022, the Artemis 1 launch was supposed to take place. Before it was sent into space, leaks sprung up in the hydrogen fuel lines. Additionally, sensores stated that one of the four main engines was not cold enough to support fuel injection for launch. These problems were non-ignorable, delaying the launch for another week. When the problem was deemed fixed, it was set to launch once again on September 3rd. Surprise, surprise, it never left the launch pad. 

Similarly to the first failed launch, a hydrogen leak occurred, but this time it was much larger and much more dangerous. Cold liquid hydrogen is relatively stable, but when liquid hydrogen begins to mix with warm Florida air, it becomes gaseous, and VERY dangerous. This explosive hazard was deemed non-ignorable once again and the launch was postponed “to a later date”. 

That “later date” has been announced! Just recently, NASA announced that the new launch date for Artemis 1 is November 14th, 2022.

Hope for the future

While the Artemis program is over budget, riddled with problems, and yet to actually start, there is still hope. After dumping more than 23 billion dollars into a project, there is little chance that NASA will scrap the project. Even if there are more issues on the 14th, there will always be hope for future endeavors.

This can’t be promised, and can’t be stated as a fact, but I will anyway. Man will make it back to the moon whether it’s in the next several years, or the next several decades, the younger generations WILL see humans return to the moon.