Appealing to veterans of the classic 1991 videogame series of the same name and today’s younger audiences alike, ‘Sonic the Hedgehog’ is the theatrical celebration of ‘Sega’s longstanding mascot. Kicking-off what seems to be a new film universe, expected to be filled with movies on other classic ‘Sega Games’ properties in the future, the film itself does its best to navigate the pressures placed by the real world. Famously, after an incredible amount of backlash from the fandom, director Jeff Fowler announced in May last year that ‘Paramount Pictures’ and ‘Sega Film Productions’ would support the reimagining of Sonic’s design, which initially resembled very little of the blue hedgehog.
Ridding the film of its massive flaw prior to release, a design likened to the abysmal anthropomorphic creatures in 2019’s ‘Cats’, the opportunity to deliver a fun and aesthetically pleasing family movie is well and truly taken. Voiced by Ben Schwartz, Sonic is a charismatic and loveable protagonist, that captures the audience’s attention with his amazing powers and cheeky interactions. Notably, Sonic has a lot of infectious fun when paired with the sheriff of ‘Green Hills, Montana’, ‘Tom Wachowski’ (James Marsden). The characters instantly click (after a brief incident involving a tranquilizer) and embark on a hilarious road trip, one that quickly shifts the film into a buddy story. Tom’s partner ‘Maddie Wachowski’ (Tika Sumpter), also acts as welcome addition to the team of heroes, coming across as caring and supportive, especially with Tom who often conveyed as stressed and confused.
The role of Sonic’s arch-nemesis, ‘Dr. Ivo Robotnik’ (or ‘Dr. Eggman’), marks Jim Carrey’s return to cinema, being absent in films since 2016. Although not reaching the heights of roles such as ‘Ace Ventura’, ‘The Mask’ and ‘Bruce Almighty’ (just to name a few), Carrey pays great justice to the character, whilst putting his own hilarious spin on it. Robotnik, like the games, utilises his unrivalled intellect and highly advanced technology to thwart Sonic, providing a believable threat for a hero who is fast enough to break the sound barrier. Although a great deal of ‘CGI’ is incorporated to achieve both Sonic’s appearance and Robitnik’s arsenal of robots and vehicles, these visual effects are done so well that the picture never becomes a mess and both characters (particularly when opposed) are easily identifiable. The result, is an antagonist that plays well off Sonic as well as the supporting character Tom in the story, in addition to being source of humour thanks to a clever performance by Carrey.
The film does however, significantly suffer from a weak script, ultimately weighing down the overall narrative and viewing experience. The writing has examples of jarring self-monologues by Sonic and awkward interactions amongst a few characters. This is most evident in the scenes of Maddie and her sister’s family, in which the humour falls flat and the scenarios translate mostly as unbelievable. Additionally, some characters are written so poorly, that they might not needed to be included, such as a weak appearance by Neal McDonough, a phenomenal actor who in this film is underutilised and plays ‘Major Bennington’. On the other hand, interesting uses of environments and various pop-culture references scattered across the film provide great story substance and entertainment.
Arguably superior to last year’s ‘Pokémon Detective Pikachu’, Sega proves with Sonic the Hedgehog that they too can take a beloved videogame property and create a solid movie for all ages. With a better script that would have refined the dialogue and showcased and Dr. Robitnik’s strengths more, this film could have been one of the year’s best so far. Although these challenges, Sonic is a fantastic hero that kids will adore, with Carrey delivering yet another great performance that is sure to make even the adults laugh too.
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