Video game movies might not be the biggest success story of Hollywood at the moment, but Sonic just gave the genre a much-needed boost.
Based on the video game character of the same name, Sonic the Hedgehog sees our blue blur ten years after his unexpected and forced exodus from his home planet to his current residence: Earth. Having lived on the periphery of humankind without a legitimate connection or interaction in all that time (save for the local crazy guy who dubs him “The Blue Devil”), Sonic (Ben Schwartz) is having a hard time keeping up the with same old shtick living alone and disconnected from the outside world, especially when all he wants is a friend and some company to enjoy his fast-paced lifestyle with. Feeling particularly drawn to Sheriff Tom Wachowski (James Marsden) of the sleepy town of Green Hills from afar, Sonic accidentally reveals himself to Tom, leading the duo on an adventure that soon puts them in the crosshairs of the evil Dr. Robotnik (Jim Carrey) and his robot minions. Now, Sonic and his new pal must find a way to evade Dr. Robotnik and figure out a way to get Sonic to a new world where he’ll be safe from the people that want him captured. Lots of running ensues.
Don’t let the score fool you; this film is a lot of fun, even with its handful of obvious flaws. From some truly entertaining action sequences that joyfully mimic the standout Quicksilver scenes in the rebooted X-Men: First Class series of films, to the off-the-wall 90s version of Jim Carrey that brings the film’s villain to vibrant life, to the genuinely charming yet attitude driven traits that Sonic has always been known for front and center in the script, this film is able to successfully adapt the character in ways that are equal parts exciting and heartwarming.
Because of this, most of the film is able to effectively pull off the feel of this supercharged hedgehog with ease, clearly showcasing the fact that the filmmakers – after redesigning the original, creepy looking humanoid version of Sonic to its current state – cared enough about the character to do right by him, a detail that goes a long way even if the film itself feels a little uneven by the time the credits roll.
For all the surprising elements that I fully expected to bomb but didn’t, there still were a few aspects of the script that panned out a little less successfully. Although it’s clear that this film is geared mainly towards the family crowd (more so than I expected), Sonic doesn’t do much to elevate this film to anything higher than that level, unlike the more mature, serious, yet still fun and funny family friendly video game adaptation of the Pokémon license that was last year’s Detective Pikachu.
Don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing with the approach the filmmakers took, but a few fart jokes later and some forced, cringe-worthy scenes that don’t do themselves any favors in terms of dialogue or content, and you have a movie that does the bare minimum it needs to do to make this film passable instead of going above and beyond a la Detective Pikachu. Again, this isn’t a huge issue in the grand scheme of things, but I was left a little deflated in a few instances that could have been – with a little bit of extra care and attention – knocked out of the park.
Better than expected and about as good as a film like this needed to be help to continue the push of placing the video game adaptation genre on solid footing, Sonic the Hedgehog is a perfectly serviceable film even with a handful of aspects that left me wanting. Jim Carrey is as wacky as ever portraying the crazed Dr. Robotnik, and the redesigned visuals for our titular character helps the family friendly, cartoony nonsense that happens throughout watchable, so for a film that had no right to even get made, we could have done worse. I genuinely enjoyed most of this film, specifically the action sequences, so I’m down for another outing, especially if the filmmakers stay true to the exciting hints they dropped about what a potential sequel could be about, one in particular that made me giddy with nerd joy.