Sonic the Hedgehog Movie Review
It’s taken almost three decades for everyone’s favourite hedgehog to leap from the small screen to the silver screen. The Sonic the Hedgehog movie has been a long time coming, and was fraught with character design woes which resonated throughout most of 2019. But it’s finally here, and it’s good.
Sonic as a game series has had some ridiculous stories and characters that, for the most part, are super weird. In director Jeff Fowler’s film though, all of that is stripped away and focuses on a much more wholesome and character-driven tale about an alien speedster just looking for a quiet place for himself in the world, while also divulging in accidental hijinks (a particular scene involving a turtle had me genuinely laughing).
The one thing I expected least of all in a video game movie is how much heart this film has. Both Ben Schwartz’s adaptation of Sonic, and James Marsden’s Tom, are wonderful as two characters trying to find a purpose for themselves while also learning to understand their new partnership. Tom is a police officer based in small-town Green Hills (get it?), from a lineage of officers keeping order in an already-orderly community. Sonic is a hyperactive teen who unintentionally becomes an urban legend, until he accidentally creates a surge so big it knocks out the town’s power. This gets the attention of the military, who have no better choice than to send in a certain Dr Robotnik (Jim Carrey) to investigate.
Carrey’s performance is a return to his legendary ‘90s form—apt for the Sega superstar’s first film. Dr Robotnik is brash, arrogant, diabolical, and appropriately obsessed with arming himself with an arsenal of robot drones. In fact, the film’s over-the-top use of robots feels perfectly lifted from any of Sonic’s mainline adventures, right down to the climactic showdown between Eggman and Sonic. And Carrey shines as he seems to legitimately have fun with the role.
Sonic the Hedgehog is unabashedly aimed towards kids, while still throwing frequent quips to get chuckles from the grown-ups. But don’t let that spoil the experience for you, and it’s still a great ride while maintaining a charming innocence like many other kids’ movies of bygone eras. And the soundtrack is reminiscent of this as well, only using pop tunes tastefully sparingly (unlike many other kid flicks that pack itself with contemporary songs that date quickly).
Now, for the character design, given the discourse after the leaked marketing treatment and original trailer debut in early 2019. It’s safe to say the retcon was a smart and worthwhile choice; Sonic looks great, moving and acting the way you’d expect him to jas a cartoon character. In fact, I was really impressed with the VFX overall, especially considering the overhaul and inevitable delay the production endured to re-animate and render the already-completed scenes.
For all the praise I’ve given, it’s also worthy to note that Sonic the Hedgehog isn’t a particularly groundbreaking movie. Much of the film’s plot points connect very conveniently and some jokes are handed too heavily (eg. farts). There are also some references that land well today, but in a few years will likely show their age. Again though, it’s a film aimed at kids, so despite its by-the-numbers structure, it works.
Sonic the Hedgehog is a really fun adventure movie that offers a new spin on a thoroughly played-out mascot. The characters have charm, the plot is simple, and the visuals look great. It’s not a particularly innovative piece of cinema that pushes any boundaries, but it’s not trying to do that. Instead, it’s a solid effort that’s evidently been handled with much love and care to the source material, while also refreshing it’s for a different medium. This film upholds the welcome trend of good video game movies (like Detective Pikachu), and sets itself up for a sequel I’m already excited for. Don’t sleep on this one.