Title: Sonic the Hedgehog
Genre: Action / Comedy / Family
Length: 99 minutes
Based on the global blockbuster videogame franchise from Sega, SONIC THE HEDGEHOG tells the story of the world’s speediest hedgehog as he embraces his new home on Earth. In this live-action adventure comedy, Sonic and his new best friend Tom (James Marsden) team up to defend the planet from the evil genius Dr. Robotnik (Jim Carrey) and his plans for world domination. The family-friendly film also stars Tika Sumpter and Ben Schwartz as the voice of Sonic.
So, the Sonic Movie. Now, going into this, I suspect that long time readers will be expecting me to have loved this. That would be a fair assumption too. I’m incredibly kind to the Blue Blur, and I was less critical of the original trailer than many. Yes, that was partially due to my love of the franchise, but I was also not interested in taking part in the insta-hate based on the visuals. And don’t get me wrong, I am glad they changed the design. I think they did a fantastic job there. But just changing the visuals doesn’t alter the film itself.
Now, the question is, was my original assumption that it would be a serviceable family film that happens to feature a certain video game correct? Well, to a point. The thing is, this does primarily feel like a family-friendly buddy cop movie. And so it should, that’s what it was designed to be. What surprised me was how much it felt like an actual piece of the Sonic universe at times too though. More Sonic X than the early games, sure, but it still felt right.
The drone-based combat was pretty spot on in terms of shifting badniks to the real world, and Sonic’s part in the action sequences was awesome in that regard. In particular, the final confrontation between Sonic and Robotnik was suitably quick and looked like a reimagining of a game boss battle to me. In general too, I thought that the fast pace of the story aided it. Jumping from point to point without giving it time to reveal any weaknesses in the plot was a good move and will certainly have helped keep the target audience of children engaged.
The humour was enjoyable too. Sonic himself was an absolute blast with his hyperactive cheekiness, and, while not as standout, James Marsden’s Tom played off this well and was really quite likable. Jim Carrey meanwhile gave us a 90’s style performance, drawing on all the madcap energy that made him so popular in films like Ace Ventura and The Mask. Best of all, Lee Majdoub did a stellar job as his set-upon assistant Agent Stone, and I for one would love to see more of the duo.
Musically, much of the soundtrack fits well. The best moments were perhaps those that harked back to the franchise though, such as the piano break at the end, or the way Robotnik’s theme is a slowed down reference to Robotnik’s Lair theme in The Adventures of Sonic the Hedgehog. Visually, this was much the same. The rework of the titular hedgehog absolutely deserves praise; he is so full of character, and I loved the little dressing up scenes and general mucking around. It’s when you catch little things that really shines though, like Sonic doing the edge of a platform wobble, Robotnik’s change after the final battle, or the echidna tribe visible at the start of the film. By far my favourite shot was towards the end though, with Robotnik staring at Sonic, and the hedgehog’s reflection in his goggles looking a tad like Mephiles the Dark. Oh, and of course, my favourite character making a cameo in the mid-credit scene brought such a big smile to my face.
So, with all that praise, was there anything wrong with the movie? Well, that will depend on what you want out of it. The story is very simple. In a way, it’s kinda paint-by-numbers in terms of how it plays out and doesn’t really veer from the formula. The pacing did help that though because it allowed you to concentrate on it being as well-executed as you could hope. There were times that I felt like Sonic was too short too. There has never been a Sonic game to my memory where he is this short compared to humans, so I can only imagine this was done to try to gain sympathy.
I would also say that many of the characters kinda get swept under the rug a little in terms of what we get to see of them. I thought that Tika Sumpter did a great job in her appearances as Maddie for example, but she had so little focus on her that it almost felt like a waste. That applies to the cast as a whole too. Outside Sonic, Robotnik, and Tom, nobody is on screen enough to get any real growth. I’m also still not sold on the Wiz Khalifa theme song ‘Speed me Up’. That’s more a personal taste thing than a comment on the quality of the song though.
So, how do I rate this overall? Well, this sir petty much what I’d hoped for. It’s fast, fun, and an easy watch with some great performances from Jim Carrey and Ben Schwartz. While it would be wrong to claim that it’s perfect, I will say that it captures the feel of the franchise way better than the live-action Super Mario Brothers film did (though let’s be fair there, the upcoming animated Mario film will be better than the animated Sonic OVA). In all, I give this one a big thumbs up and a solid 4 out of 5. Here’s hoping for a sequel.