One long delay and massive character redesign, the much-anticipated live action/computer-animated video game movie adaption of Sonic the Hedgehog was finally released in February 2020.
A massive financial success, whether you liked it or loathed it, there is no arguing with it making roughly 3-times its budget back. Just like there is no arguing that it is the best Sonic the Hedgehog movie yet. Although the choice is hardly stellar.
Directed by Jeff Fowler and written by Pat Casey and Josh Miller, it stars Ben Schwartz as the voice of Sonic and Jim Carrey as Doctor Robotnik. As well as James Marsden, Tika Sumpter, Natasha Rothwell, Adam Pally, and Neal McDonough.
The movie opens with a rough origin story for Sonic as on an unknown planet, the young hedgehog is attacked by a tribe of echidnas. They have been drawn to his power of running at supersonic speeds but his guardian, Longclaw the Owl manages to help him escape using rings that create a portal to other worlds. The owl is badly hurt and sends Sonic through a portal to Earth with the instruction to never stop running as enemies will always want his power.
We then jump to 10 years later where Sonic has been hiding out in the small town of Green Hills. There, he has watched the townspeople from afar with the local Sherriff, Tom Wachowski (James Marsden) being his particular favourite.
Tom is tired of the small-town life though and along with his wife, Maddie (Tika Sumpter) plans to relocate to San Francisco where he has been hired by the police department.
Sonic loves Green Hills but loneliness is beginning to get to him. He yearns for friendship and it boils over while playing baseball by himself. With no-one to high-five him when he wins, he gets upset and runs so fast that he causes an electromagnetic pulse. Which knocks out the power across the Pacific Northwest.
Unsurprisingly, this gets the attention of the US government who send the robot loving, scientific genius Doctor Robotnik (Jim Carrey) to investigate the cause.
With the government now on his trail, Sonic realises that he is no longer safe on Earth so sets out to leave the planet. However, when hiding out in Tom’s shed he gets his attention and is shot with a tranquilliser dart. Before he goes unconscious he sees Tom’s shirt which has a San Francisco reference and accidentally opens a portal sending the rest of his rings through to the city.
With Dr Robotnik hot on their heels, the pair are forced to team up to get to San Francisco. Get Sonic’s rings and send him to another planet. However, Robotnik has gotten hold of one of Sonic’s quills and is finding how to tap into the power to make his machines even more powerful.
Let’s get something clear right away. This is a family movie, a movie to watch with the kids and to unchain your brain. This is might be video-game adaption and it has some great references and Easter eggs throughout but if you’ve never played a Sonic game in your life, you won’t be lost.
Kept short and delivered fast (fitting considered its title character), there’s plenty of fun to be had here. Provided you don’t over-think or over-analysis it. With such a straight-forward and simple story, few will bother.
Which in itself is a problem. The story is far too simplistic and leans heavily into clichés you’ve seen a thousand times before. This would be far more distracting if it wasn’t for solid performances from most of the cast. Ben Schwartz does a good job as Sonic; Jim Carrey draws from his past to add some serious energy to Dr. Robotnik and James Marsden is likable.
As a road-trip buddy movie with action sequences every so often, Sonic the Hedgehog is enjoyable. However, in an attempt to pander to different audiences it stumbles every so often.
For all its ‘family’ entertainment, there are the odd adult-orientated jokes that fall flat. A running gag about Maddie’s sister disliking Tom overstays its welcome. A heavily choreographed dance sequence for Dr. Robotnik is awkward (as much as Carrey puts his all into it) and references that will date the movie are too frequent. Such as Sonic ‘flossing’ and talking about live-streaming.
These sorts of moments aren’t in abundance thankfully and most will just enjoy the fun factor of the movie. As that is what it is overall. A fun, family flick that isn’t ashamed of its video game origins but isn’t held hostage to it either.
Sonic the Hedgehog (2020)
The Final Score - 6/10