‘Sonic the Hedgehog’ defies low expectations and doubts
Sega’s famous blue hedgehog stars in an actually good video-game-inspired movie
Movie: “Sonic the Hedgehog”
Director: Jeff Fowler
Starring: Ben Schwartz, James Marsden, Jim Carrey
Studio: Paramount Pictures
Films about video games have historically bombed in the box office. But sometimes all you need is a blue blur, a donut lord, a pretzel lady and an eggman.
“Sonic the Hedgehog,” based on Sega’s video game franchise, is a whirlwind action-adventure comedy that focuses on an extraterrestrial blue hedgehog named Sonic (Ben Schwartz) who has the ability to run faster than the speed of sound. While living on Earth, a series of events leads to Sonic seeking help from a sheriff named Tom Wachowski (James Marsden) in order to stop Dr. Robotnik (Jim Carrey), who wants to use Sonic’s powers for his robots.
Despite the rocky road that led up to its release, “Sonic the Hedgehog” is a fun movie filled with lovable characters, hilarious scenes and well-placed references. It is engaging throughout its 99-minute run-time and leaves the viewer wanting more.
Truthfully, much of the doubt that surrounded this movie is justified. Video-game-inspired movies have a tendency to be awful. “Resident Evil” is one of the best horror game franchises, but the live action movies are hot garbage. While there have been a couple exceptions to this rule, like the recent “Detective Pikachu” adaptation, it was hard to put faith in a genre of movies that typically bombs pretty hard.
Plus, “Sonic the Hedgehog” ran into some criticism before it released that seemingly signaled doom. The film was originally scheduled to release on Nov. 8, 2019, but the CGI designs for Sonic in the original trailers were regarded as so horrifying by the general public that many people complained and made memes, and Paramount delayed the film to redo the CGI.
The CGI redesign admittedly looked super cute, but it did not instill much hope.
Still, the movie ended up being great.
The cinematography, lighting design and comedy are top-notch. It has good pacing that remains fast while not losing its viewers in the chaos. Even though the film does not require the viewers to have prior knowledge about Sonic, it also has plenty of well-placed references for fans.
Despite some initial ambivalence toward the human characters, they are easy to love by the end. Sheriff Wachowski and his veterinarian wife, Maddie (Tika Sumpter), have a great loving relationship that enhances the film. Original characters in video-game-inspired films usually feel unnecessary or easily disposable, but the Wachowskis’ relationships with each other and with Sonic elevate the movie rather than hinder it.
Carrey absolutely shines in his role as Dr. Robotnik, too. It is easy to tell that he had a lot of fun with this role, as it’s arguably his best and most energetic role since he portrayed Stanley Ipkiss in “The Mask.”
After “Sonic the Hedgehog” ended, the after-credits scene suggested a sequel, but only time will tell if it actually gets one.
Anastasia Wilds is an assistant arts editor and can be reached at email@example.com and on Twitter @AnastasiaWilds