Sonic The Hedgehog, an origin story for the titular character, triumphs against all the odds.
Sometimes, just sometimes, fan outcry can have a positive effect. If you’d asked me last May if I was looking forward to the new ‘Sonic The Hedgehog’ movie, the answer would have been an emphatic no.
Our first look at the titular character in the first trailer had the internet in uproar. The design of the much loved SEGA video game character was all wrong. The stuff of nightmares. Hideous human teeth. Weird eyes. Human proportions with a big head. The internet took one look and unanimously said. Nope!
Credit where credit’s due. The filmmakers reeled from the overwhelming criticism, but vowed to make things right. ‘Sonic The Hedgehog’ was delayed three months for an extensive character re-design. And although not perfect, the results are infinitely better.
Perhaps proving that no press is bad press, the film has enjoyed accelerated box office takings, zooming into the lead with the highest grossing opening weekend for a movie based on a video game. Sonic has racked up $57million domestically, pipping last year’s ‘Detective Pikachu‘ which grossed $54million in its first weekend.
So people have been seeing the film. But is it any good? My nine year old daughter thinks so. She says it’s the best film she’s ever seen. But she liked ‘Star Wars: The Rise of the Skywalker‘ too, so let’s assume her opinion is null and void at this point and find out what the 42 year old dad thought.
I lived through the console wars of the ’90s. I was a SEGA kid. Sonic was my go-to game on the Mega Drive and Game Gear. I won the Sonic 2 challenge on the SEGA bus goddammit!… and got a certificate! The chances of me enjoying ‘Sonic the Hedgehog’ seemed incredibly slim.
The final design of Sonic in the movie is infinitely improved on the first incarnation
Three minutes in and I was sold. As previously mentioned, the final design of Sonic isn’t 100% faithful to the character we grew up with. Only the purest of purists will get hung up on this.
Our favourite blue hedgehog (voiced by Ben Schwartz) is charming, cute, vulnerable and stranded on Earth, a safe haven from pursuers who mean to harness his special powers. Desperately lonely, Sonic makes friends. It’s just that the people he’s befriended don’t know it yet.
That will soon change when a manifestation of his power puts him on the radar of the U.S. government. In a bid to hunt down the cause of a huge and debilitating power surge the government enlist the services of Dr. Robotnik (Jim Carrey). The hunt is afoot and Robotnik will utilise his entire drone army, stopping at nothing, to hunt down and capture Sonic whose only hope of evading capture turns out to be the local sheriff, Tom Wachowski (James Marsden).
My daughter was on the edge of her seat for the entire one hour thirty nine minutes run-time and I can understand why. As you’d expect from a film based on a character renowned for his speed, this film is action packed and rattles along at a frantic pace. There’s rarely a dull moment. Exciting stuff, but worth noting that she’d consumed an entire sharing pack of M&Ms and a large fizzy drink too.
Jim Carrey as the evil Dr. Robotnik
Interactions between Sonic and Sheriff Wachowski are well done. Not once was I taken out of the moment by the fact that a small, blue CGI hedgehog was in a live-action setting. Jim Carrey is his evil best as Dr. Robotnik, Sonic’s long-standing nemesis. For much of the film Carrey’s performance is high-energy, as you’d expect, but his appearance is a vastly toned down version of the character as seen in the games. In fact, it isn’t until the very end of the movie that Robotnik begins to appear more traditionally recognisable.
Being completely honest, ‘Sonic the Hedgehog’ isn’t at all ground-breaking. It doesn’t really offer up anything more than any other family film. There’s an uplifting moralistic tale of acceptance and finding ones self. There’s an uphill battle against the odds where all seems lost but friendship wins the day. It’s cute. It’s very well done. Most importantly it provides a healthy shot of nostalgia for old nerds like me and an hour and forty minutes of uplifting, funny escapism for kids. Win, win.
‘Sonic the Hedgehog’ is in cinemas now.