Sonic the Hedgehog was originally supposed to be released in November of 2019. However, when the teaser trailer for the film dropped the internet went bananas over the look of Sonic (the human teeth are still unnerving). Paramount Studios then did the unthinkable and listened to the internet and delayed the movie so they could get the look of Sonic right, or as right as the internet wanted it to be. This delayed the film four months and I imagine the films animators worked tirelessly to get Sonic perfect.
The four months spent fixing our speedy blue hedgehog was worth it. Sonic looks a lot more like the Sonic we know from the video games. However, I wish that while they were looking to fix Sonic, they also looked to fix the screenplay. Sonic the Hedgehog is yet another failed video game adaptation that does arguably the worst thing a video game movie could possibly do: take the main character out of its world.
We live in a cinematic world where good video adaptations are few and far between. For every Mortal Kombat, Tomb Raider, and Detective Pikachu we get a Super Mario Bros., Max Payne, or Uwe Boll film. Sure, the Resident Evil films are fun, Street Fighter is a lot of dumb, funny non-sense, and Assassins Creed has some interesting elements to it, but I don’t think we’ve ever gotten a truly “great” video adaptation on the big screen.
However, no matter how good or bad, one thing that can be said about all video game movies, save for maybe anything Uwe Boll, is that they try and build the video game world on screen. Some films, like Assassins Creed, go too far into the world, making it feel like you had to play the game in order to understand the movie. Others, like Super Mario Bros. do a rough interpretation of the video game world and though it doesn’t usually work, it’s at least an attempt to bring us into the video game.
In Sonic the Hedgehog, we start the film with Dr. Robotnik (Jim Carrey) chasing Sonic. But he isn’t chasing him through any of the legendary Sonic zones we played on SEGA, like the Green Hill Zone or Marble Zone. No, Dr. Robotnik is chasing Sonic through a major U.S. city, which we learn later is San Francisco. Already a rough start, we then freeze frame and get a voice over from Sonic (voiced by Ben Schwartz) who basically says, “So, you’re probably wondering how I got here?” at which point I almost packed up my popcorn and left the theater. Not even two minutes into the movie and I almost walked out.
We then flashback to young Sonic in the Green Hill Zone and it rules. We see the collapsing bridges, the loops, the spikes, everything that was in the game and it was awesome to see. This gave me slight hope that the movie would take place here, or at least a chunk of it would. I learned quickly that this was not the case. After Sonic’s mentor is killed by villagers, she gives Sonic a bag of rings that can teleport him to other dimensions, much like the giant rings at the end of each level in the game. Rather than have Sonic go to any of the other fun, cool, visually interesting levels that existed in the games, he goes to Earth, where he hangs out in small Montana town stalking the towns people, particularly Officer Tom Wachowski (James Marsden) and his wife Maddie (Tika Sumpter). When Tom finds Sonic after Sonic causes a city-wide blackout, Sonic tries to use his dimension-jumping coins to go to San Francisco, only to drop his coin pouch through the dimension-jumping ring and not himself. He and Tom must then go to San Francisco to retrieve his coins while dodging Dr. Robotnik and his drones.
The movie shows us how Sonic is lonely and is only looking for a friend, which he hopes will be Tom. Though sweet, it’s really hard to care about a character who never interacted with humans at all in any of the video games. He has also never been on Earth. Why do I want my Sonic on Earth? The answer is I don’t. A Sonic movie shouldn’t take place on Earth, it should take place in the Green Hill Zone with Robotnik attacking the land and Sonic trying to stop him.
But beyond where the movie takes place, nothing works in Sonic the Hedgehog. Sonic himself is rather annoying as he constantly spits pop culture lingo and does the Floss dance far too many times. Marsden tries his best, but his character is too flat and boring for him to do anything., Sumpter’s character is so pointless she might as well not exist. The action is brief and boring and the comedy is few and far between. The only somewhat bright spot of the film is Carrey as Robotnik. Carrey is doing A LOT with the character and though most of it misses, some of it clicks and offered up a couple chuckles.
I loved playing Sonic on SEGA when I was a kid, but hated watching Sonic on the big screen as an adult. This is yet another failed video game movie and arguably one of the worst I have ever seen. This was an abysmal experience that I hope to soon forget.
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