film & game reviews, the retro way.

REVIEW

SONIC THE HEDGEHOG

DIRECTOR

Jeff Fowler

WRITERS

Pat Casey

Josh Miller

CAST

James Marsden

Ben Schwartz

Jim Carrey

Tika Sumpter

Loosely based on the classic video games, Sonic The Hedgehog is SEGA's first attempt at a mostly live-action film following their iconic speedy blue hedgehog. The film was famously delayed due to a shambolic first trailer back in 2019 showcasing a particularly unpopular Sonic design.

If SEGA learned anything from the initial negative reaction the film received and its eventual box-office success it's that people like the character of Sonic, and they like him enough to sit through anything as long as he, at the very least, looks like Sonic. Like the games output itself, Sonic's foray into animation has been patchy but with the odd gem including the Sonic The Hedgehog series, the 1996 2-part OVA movie and, more recently, Sonic Mania Adventures. Whether a particular show was good or not-so-good, one thing was clear: Sonic could work in an animated film. The character's short cameos in the Wreck-It Ralph movies confirmed this. And yet, SEGA chose to take the Smurfs/Alvin & The Chipmunks route and throw an animated character into the real world.

Who Framed Roger Rabbit, this is not.

It goes without saying, of course, that the main character's redesign was the right move as many cinemagoers would have likely been turned off by the frankly butt-ugly early design. That said, an effect like this in such a setting was always going to be a distraction and, even as it stands currently, it is nicer to look at, granted, but not convincing for a second. Still, there is some charm to this cuter-looking, glove-wearing, bluer Sonic and whenever he's on screen battling Dr. Robotnik or zooming around in a blue blur, the character works a lot better than you'd expect. The film's opening, set in a beautifully rendered Green Hill Zone (the games' earliest stage, usually), is a visual treat and one wishes the whole movie had taken place there.

Quicker than you can say "wait, why was this hedgehog raised by an owl?", we find ourselves on Earth in Green Hills, a small town in the Pacific North West where Sonic has lived for years, hiding from everyone. He had escaped his own world after being attacked by a group of enemies with bows and arrows we know nothing about thanks to one of his portal rings. After Sonic loses his cool and accidentally overpowers himself, causing the entire state to lose power, the Pentagon sends in Dr. Robotnik (Jim Carrey) to tackle the potential threat using his state-of-the-art machines. Before he can escape again, Sonic is captured by friendly cop Tom (James Marsden) who reluctantly agrees to help him get to San Francisco, where his lost bag of rings ended up.

The plot is as paper-thin as it gets and the writing all-around is, frankly, lacking. From the storytelling, to the dialog, to... basic logic in terms of how a character acts, this is exactly the kind of cynical, lazy kids' movie writing Hollywood delivers all too often and it's the main thing that prevents this movie from being anything more than mediocre. Even the humor is all over the place. One second there's an adorable moment where Sonic's hair poofs up, the next there's a crass fart joke you wish you could instantly unsee, or unhear. Luckily, Jim Carrey is extremely entertaining as Robotnik and he turns every uninspired line he's given to work with into gold using only his ever-stretchy face and that good old Ace Ventura-style delivery only he can provide.

This Sonic The Hedgehog movie has its moments. It can be funny, it can be cute and it can be genuinely engaging at times (the final battle with Robotnik is very well done), and yet it falls just short of being good enough to recommend. The plot and its human characters are so bland, so by-numbers and the script is so insulting that the film should only appeal to younger viewers and die-hard Sonic and/or Jim Carrey fans which... I guess is me.

Harmless enough, yet thoroughly unremarkable.

TheRetroCritic