So, after a long, long wait, the first official trailer for the live action Sonic the Hedgehog movie is finally here! Now, I’ve been a big supporter of this film from the get-go, and I’ve been fairly vocal with my view that slating it before we actually get some footage is ridiculous. So, now that it’s out there, if you really don’t like it, go ahead and criticize to your heart’s content. While not always the case, trailers are a great way to see how a film is looking and feeling, so this is the time to decide what you think, not with a leaked unfinished photo.
As always with these posts, I’m posting the trailer below, then I’ll get into what I think.
So, that was something, eh? I’m gonna split this into a couple of different sections so that I can deal with a number of different points.
Gansta’s Paradise by Coolio. Okay, look. I really like that song. It was a hit when I was young, which made it rare in that it was a song that was popular and I enjoyed it. I still enjoy it now. For this film though? It seems like an odd choice. It’s a slow song. Sonic is fast. The trailer goes to great lengths to show that. Sonic even utters the “Gotta go fast” line at the start of the trailer. So, why use a slow track like that? To me, Sonic is more synonymous with rock music and faster dance tracks. In that respect, I would have loved to have heard a Crush 40 song here. My guess is that Paramount see Sonic as a 90’s icon and wanted to do something that would strike a chord with those of us who were fans of him in that era. If that’s the case though, I’d have rather that they went with something like Brain of J by Pearl Jam. That little musical section at the start of the trailer was really nice though. I approve of that and hope we see more things like it in the film.
The sound effects are great, in my opinion. From the classic ring collecting to the sound of Sonic speeding by, it all fit. The electricity and mechanical noises were also decent, if not anything we haven’t heard before. So, from an ambient standpoint, I’m expecting this to be really well done.
So, let’s start with the thing that has garnered the most attention since that first poster went live: Sonic’s design. Don’t get me wrong, the argument that change was unnecessary is certainly valid. I think I understand why they did it though. They couldn’t go with the modern game design without it feeling too much like Sonic 06, which is definitely not what they’re going for tonally. So, they shrank him down, and made him seem more human-like in build. Yes, it’s strange to look at when you’re used to the game style, but it’s really not bad. If anything, I’d say that its biggest problem in that regard is that it’s coming out after Detective Pikachu. Sadly, the Blue Blur has not translated as well visually as the Pokémon cast, as the CG looks less textured than that of the monster catching series.
That’s not to say that it’s badly done though. No, in fact, it has some nice touches to it. If you remember, I said in my previous post that I thought people were wrong to call his spines furry, as I thought they looked like clusters of quills. Given the number of loose quills we see in the trailer, I’m going to take it that I was right with that. I mean, look at them. They’re thicker than the body hair, so it should be obvious. I’m also not bothered by the white fur instead of gloves, but that’s more because I’m fond of animals with built-in socks. The smaller eyes look a little odd with the rest of the head being in regular Sonic proportions, but they’re emotive, so I can’t really complain. I saw a lot of people complaining about the teeth too. Sure, they’re very human looking, but think about that. When has there ever been anything in the Sonic universe where we see Sonic’s teeth and they aren’t drawn I the same style as the human character’s teeth? I’m struggling to think of any. If I’m wrong on that, please do cite an example. As it stands though, while I don’t think Paramount were aware of that little snippet, I simply can’t view them as anything other than keeping with the universe the film is set in.
The action scenes with Sonic seem fine. They look fast and fun, which is about as Sonic as you can get. The spin-dash has a nice electric feel to it, and the titular hedgehog moves well. The only real downside to it is that, during both the stretching scene and the clip where he leaps from the car, Sonic looked kinda taller than he does during the rest of the trailer. That could just be the angles, but it could also be that the studio hasn’t paid enough attention to perspective. Time will tell. Oh, and while not an action-based point, I totally want to give him belly rubs now. His tummy looks adorably fluffy.
Moving on the antagonist, we get to see the full genesis (see Paramount, I can use the same joke…even though it was the mega Drive over here in the UK, so it doesn’t really work as well) of Jim Carrey’s Dr. Robotnik. From the beginning, he’s a standard looking guy. Then he gets the outfit. Then, right at the end of the trailer, he looks more like the classic villain. I’m fine with that. There have been stories about Robotnik’s origin before, such as in the Fleetway comics, and he does always start off pretty normal. His mechanical army is also pretty cool. I like the various vehicles, and the sheer number of missiles in play clearly shows his Mega Drive (there, made it work) to defeat Sonic.
The only thing that I wasn’t as fond of visually was the scene where the human heroes are falling through the giant ring. Sorry, but that was just plain bad CG.
Characterization, Tone, and Other Stuff
Jim Carrey looks like he’s having a blast as Robotnik. He feels like he’s playing his classic 90’s self, which fits well with what we’re shown. Ben Schwartz seems fine as Sonic too, and has the slightly arrogant edge down well. We don’t really see enough of anyone else to know what to expect, in my opinion, though it looks like James Marsden’s character will be likable.
The overall tone of the film seems to lean towards a mix of action and comedy. As I said, the action looks decent. The humour on show in the trailer also made me laugh, so I have hope for that. Sonic’s “Meow” and the scene with the bag were both great, and the over the top physical movements from Jim Carrey’s Robotnik will paly well to children, I think.
There were a few nice little nods to the franchise. “Gotta go fast” obviously references Sonic X, and I’m sure everyone spotted the Green Hills sign. Tow others that I thought were pretty cool were the resemblance between Commander Walters and the G.U.N. Commander from Shadow The Hedgehog game, and Sonic doing the classic foot tapping pose before taking out he missiles.
This is pretty much what I expected. The trailer does a good job of showing what I think will the core strengths of the film, but also shows some of the weaknesses when played alongside the likes of Detective Pikachu. My opinion hasn’t changes insofar as I still think that a CG film that was either more like the modern game cut scenes or Sonic Boom would have been far, far better, but this doesn’t look like a train wreck.
The biggest stumbling block for me is that, for all the little nods and cool moments, it still somehow doesn’t feel entirely like a Sonic film. The humour is different to the games, cartoons and comics, and the design is different enough to be its own thing but familiar enough to remind us that it’s not the same as the main franchise.
I expect the critics to rip it apart, and I suspect that many long-term Sonic fans will do the same, but at its heart, I think this will be an entertaining film that just happens to feature Sonic the Hedgehog.
But what about yourselves? What do you think? Let me know in the comments below.