After discovering a small, blue, fast hedgehog, a small-town police officer must help it defeat an evil genius who wants to do experiments on it.
Cast: Ben Schwartz, James Marsden, Jim Carrey, Tika Sumpter, Lee Majdoub, Adam Pally, Natasha Rothwell
Directors: Jeff Fowler
Writers: Patrick Casey (written by), Josh Miller (written by), Yuji Naka (characters), Naoto Ohshima (characters), Hirokazu Yasuhara (characters)
Last year the Sonic The Hedgehog movie made headlines for the design of Sonic featured in the upcoming movie, a design that was quickly met with wide criticism. This was followed up by the announcement that the feedback had been heard and the film would be delayed for three months and released in early 2020 with a new Sonic design that was closer to the games. When the second trailer released fans were generally excited, and I too thought the new design added a lot to film — namely making our protagonist not look like a little creep — but is the final product fun? For the most part, I’m happy to report that it is a lot of fun.
In the opening minutes of the film, we’re introduced to Sonic’s homeworld, his gift of speed and how and why he ends up on Earth ten years later. And it’s on Earth where Sonic hides out in safety for a bigger period of this ten years, settling into a life of solitude in the town of Green Hills — the first level in the game is called Green Hill Zone, in case you missed that gag. Sonic gets around in secret and has set up a home in a cave. Sonic grows the biggest interest in the town’s Sheriff, a man he refers to as the Donut King, but is named Tom Wachowski. Unfortunately for Sonic one wrong move from him sends the evil Dr Ivo Robotnik down to Green Hills and he ends up having to reveal himself and seek Tom’s help to make a trek across America to retrieve his rings, the only way he’ll be able to transport himself to a new and safe planet, free from the unrelenting pursuit of Robotnik.
For the most part, the film is a road movie with a lot of laughs thanks to the charming performance of Ben Schwartz as Sonic and his relationship with Tom played by James Marsden. They make a good pair as far as CGI characters and real-actors go, and one scene in a bar where the two participate in several activities together before ultimately ending in a bar fight is the height of this, especially since the film later does a similar scene to less success. A problem that lies with Sonic it seems is the desire to only tell action in slow-motion action scenes that play out like Quicksilver’s in the X-Men films, a franchise that also doubled down on the bit and found less success the second time around.
Robotnik is the ultimate hammy bad guy and as ridiculous as he can be in the games you haven’t seen him like this before because now he’s been played by Jim Carey. And this is the most 90’s Carey I’ve seen Jim Carey since, well, maybe the 90’s — and it looks like he’s having a blast as well which helps.
The character design of Sonic was a big hangup for the movie and for all but one scene I loved how Sonic looked. He’s got these great big video game eyes, wonderful amount of spikes and when he moves like a blur it looks great. However, a scene on a rooftop in the last third of the movie looks somewhere between the new and old design and was instantly distracting. Ultimately it was a great taste test because I couldn’t have handled a full movie of that old design, that’s for sure.