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Sonic the Hedgehog – Movie Review

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Sonic the Hedgehog – Movie Review

Rating: C (Average)

Trailer/Thumbnail Courtesy Paramount Pictures

Sega’s Sonic the Hedgehog video games are delightful and fast-paced platformers that gave players the ability to be a cute blue animal who could run as quickly as possible. There is so much potential for an entertaining movie with that premise. The blue blur’s long-awaited film adaptation has moments of fun, but the story and human characters surrounding the hedgehog fall into disappointingly generic waters. Even the humour isn’t quite up to snuff. The biggest smiles come from the references to Sonic’s legacy, but they aren’t enough to carry an entire movie. Changing his design after the initial uproar was a nice gesture, but it doesn’t fix the other problems in the finished cut.

Thankfully, Sonic himself is one of the highlights of the film. The animators make him appropriately cute and likeable and you do root for him over the course of the story. Ben Schwartz brings the needed energy to the role and his genuine love for the character shines through. He even does well with the scenes where Sonic feels down. The main appeal of seeing Sonic on the big screen is to see the effects when he runs. Those sequences are fun, with director Jeff Fowler incorporating many of Sonic’s abilities from the games. There are plenty of little shout-outs to the source material and those provide a few chuckles and knowing nods, including recognisable music cues and our hero’s nickname for the evil scientist pursuing him. The movie even throws shade at infamous fan art of the Sega mascot.

It’s disappointing that the blue hedgehog is weighed down by the human characters he’s forced to interact with. We get the familiar plot of a creature from another world ending up in our universe. The early scenes in Sonic’s world are beautifully animated and realised, but we spend little time there. The story is primarily a generic road trip comedy as most of the runtime has him tagging along with a policeman named Tom. Try as he might, James Marsden just can’t make Tom interesting and it’s difficult to care about his problems. Tika Sumpter, meanwhile, is wasted as Tom’s wife and contributes little to the proceedings.

Jim Carrey seems like inspired casting as Dr. Robotnik, but he completely overdoes the role. Some over-the-top acting is to be expected, especially from an actor famous for his facial expressions. However, Carrey dials the performance up to 11, recalling his younger Ace Ventura and In Living Color days. He is constantly chewing the scenery at every turn and the material he’s given isn’t all that funny to begin with. So Robotnik’s antics get old extremely quickly. There is a reason the film is at its best when we’re focused primarily on Sonic, because he’s at least interesting and tolerable.

There is the potential to lean more into the fun of the video games in future sequels and the ending does provide room for an entertaining storyline. Unfortunately, the script for this Sonic the Hedgehog movie feels twenty years too late and like a product of a time when CG/live-action hybrid movies based on recognised characters were starting to become commonplace. There are also only so many times you can watch the same story from Masters of the Universe, but with different IP spliced in. High art shouldn’t be expected from a Sonic the Hedgehog movie, but enjoyable side characters and a story that doesn’t repeat familiar beats and jokes are still necessary.

Stefan Ellison
THE SCENE


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