Sonic The Hedgehog. The original game was released in 1991 for the Sega Genesis and it became a smash hit. You play as the titular character who runs fast, collects rings, and destroys robots deployed by his arch-nemesis Dr. Robotnik (or Dr. Eggman these days). The speedy blue hedgehog became Sega’s mascot that could rival Nintendo’s Mario and spun into a multimedia franchise of video games, animation, and comics, which have attempted to expand the universe to mixed results. This brings us to the movie adaptation. When the first trailer for this movie came out, people were like…
It had the feel of an executive marketing decision with the music choice, the humor, and of course, the butt-ugly character design of Sonic himself that dove into uncanny valley territory. It was so bad that Paramount postponed the film from its original November release last year to February of this year. When the second trailer came out, people loved it, especially with the Sonic redesign looking closer to the video game look. Now, the movie is out, so how is it? Well, let’s find out. This is Sonic The Hedgehog.
Sonic The Hedgehog lives in the town of Green Hills where he’s been hiding in secret. Suddenly, his presence gains the attention of Dr. Robotnik and he must team up with local sheriff Tom Wachowski to avert the mad scientist and reclaim his lost rings in San Fransisco. Like most classic video games, the Sonic games are not known for their great stories. It’s a simple battle of good vs evil, so the writers have to add in more to justify a feature-length release. I was worried that they were going to go the Smurfs movie route of the cliched “cartoon character in the real world” premise, which they kinda do here, but they avoid one pitfall that has trapped similar movies like it: focusing more on the titular character than the human characters.
Since we’re going into characters, let’s start with Sonic himself, voiced by Ben Schwartz. He’s great. Funny, hyperactive and endearing, he’s exactly like what the character should be like. And the redesign helps a lot since it’s more expressive, recognizable, and easier on the eyes compared to the original design. This movie gave Sonic an origin story where he’s taken care of by an owl named Longclaw who protects him from enemies who seeks his powers. He’s given a set of rings that can open portals to other worlds and he spends his time on Earth. This is where he meets Tom Wachowski, played by James Marstern, who seems to get type-casted alongside CGI animals. He wasn’t anything great, but he was good enough for what he had and the scenes he has with Sonic are great. They go on a semi-road trip to San Fransisco while avoiding Dr. Robotnik and it’s filled with both funny and touching emotional moments. Tom’s wife Maddie is played by Tika Sumpter and she was alright. She’s not in the movie much since most of the focus is on Sonic and Tom.
Now, we have to talk about Jim Carrey as Dr. Robotnik. I’ll be honest, he wasn’t exactly my first choice to play the character. I’d imagine he’d be played by someone who’s… rounder. Well, he’s actually one of the most entertaining parts of the movie as he goes full 90s Ace Ventura/The Mask/Grinch mode. Perfect for an egomaniacal genius. His more source material-accurate look shows up at the end of the movie after he’s defeated.
The beginning of the movie is amazing, taking place in Sonic’s world which looks exactly like the Green Hill Zone level in the first game. This is exactly what I wanted a Sonic movie to look like, but instead, it takes places mostly in our world, which isn’t as interesting. Another letdown is the soundtrack. Here’s the thing: Sonic has some of the best music out of any video game franchise. Even the bad games like ’06 had some bangers. Here, it’s a pretty standard movie soundtrack with a few glimpses of songs from the classic era. It’s not bad, but it’s not that memorable, either. The humor here is a mixed bag. There are some jokes and puns that are legitimately hilarious, but there’s also some jokes that just bombed. There is a fart joke that made me facepalm because it’s lazy low-hanging fruit. There’s also a bunch of pop culture references sprinkled throughout which isn’t surprising, but will make the movie more dated. Oh, and stick around for the mid-credits scene because Tails makes an appearance.
I give Sonic The Hedgehog a 7/10. The story doesn’t have a lot of originality, some of the jokes don’t really land, and there’s a lot of missed opportunities, but it was still a pretty enjoyable family movie. The jokes that land are really funny, the characters are entertaining, and there’s some genuine heart within. This movie is made by passionate people who want to show their love for the Sonic franchise. This could have gone wrong in so many ways, but it also could have been better as well. I feel like this and Detective Pikachu are breaking the curse of bad video game movies because they’re the best we have so far. I just hope that this leads to us getting a legitimately great video game movie in the future. What will it be based on? Who knows?