If any film has been a major topic of discussion within the past few years, it’s hands down the film adaptation of Sonic the Hedgehog. What started out at seeming to be like the next worst thing since a live action Disney remake, the Sonic movie seemed like an initially horrible idea and possibly worse execution of it. But thanks to a rare delay in production changing the character design, the film has become one of the more supported video game adaptations for taking such a risk and seemingly pay off. However, does that make for a good movie? While not an end all be all film based around the blue blur, Sonic the Hedgehog serves as a fairly entertaining film adaptation that even despite some flaws as a film and adaptation is a nice serviceable rendition of the iconic SEGA character.
Geared More Towards Younger Than Older Fans
The film of course centers on Sonic living as recluse on Earth and enjoying himself until the government finds out about his existence and he has to return to his original home. He teams up with a Police Officer named Tom to try to make it so he’s safe and away from the clutches of the evil Dr. Robotnik. For a franchise with such an extensive history as Sonic, many would expect for his first appearance on the silver screen to be a grand explosion of awesomeness the blue blur is known for with in-jokes and references on the level of something like Spider-Verse. The downside is, the film isn’t really that and instead serves as a road trip movie with a very childlike tone and humor attached to it. It feels very similar to other live action hybrid kids’ films with not a whole lot of substance and very joke heavy. Some would not take issue with this however, because Sonic is essentially a kid’s video game franchise, so having the film geared more towards kids would not be an issue typically. However, something that should have been considered more often is the fact that Sonic has a massive fan base that have been around with him throughout his near 30 year history. With so many games, shows and comics really expanding on the lore and doing unique things, one would have hope that this could have been a huge celebration of the character introducing film audiences to the character in a faithful fan service movie with some edge to it. Unfortunately, that’s not the case because it feels fairly standard with a straightforward story and typically elements you’d see in a kids film. That’s not to say there isn’t any fan service or neat references here or there but not as much as one would hope for. That’s not to say the movie is bad however, because even for its more child friendly tone, it still relatively works. The film never goes ridiculously insulting with out of place try hard references or incredibly cringe worthy humor that is seen in films like the Aladdin remake. There are modern humor and references, but that is something that has usually been associated with Sonic’s hip attitude so it doesn’t feel too out of place here. For what it is worth, it does serve as a very cute and fun kids' movie that does have enough energy and character to it that younger fans of the series can enjoy. Think of it like Paddington except with more modern day internet humor that could appeal to kids, and in that way, it does work.
Nails the Blue Blur as a Character
If there’s anything that should be right about a film like this, it’s the title character and how he is represented as part of a big franchise like this. Fortunately, Sonic the Hedgehog himself is fantastic being every bit the fast, smart talking mammal with attitude that so many fell in love with. Not only does the character look great with so much expression and personality based on the new redesign alone, but Ben Schwartz gives a very good performance that is true to his character. He is the best part of the movie as he should be, but it would not hurt to mention how fun Dr. Robotnik is in the film. The casting of Jim Carrey as the character seemed so bizarre that it had to work and it does as Carrey looks like he is having the time of his life playing the character. He’s an over the top mad scientist that adds to the movie’s energy just like how Eggman should be in the first place. The downside is, outside of the main two characters, there’s not a whole lot of this movie from a character standpoint. The human characters feel very standard for this movie with not a whole lot, such as Tom, who doesn’t have a whole lot to him as a character outside of having a decent chemistry with Sonic thanks to James Marsden’s performance. The film is at its weakest when it focuses on the human element that doesn’t really need to be there and feels very much like filler to a good extent. Thankfully, it’s not a huge distraction from the movie as the film still is very much more focused on Sonic and Robotnik for a good 75% of the film. It does feel like it goes through a bit of a halt when watching the scenes with the humans only, but fortunately it picks up big time thanks to Sonic’s high speed energy feeling very appropriate for the fast pace character.
CGI Characters with Personality and Passion Behind Them
The Redesign of Sonic as mentioned earlier was one of the best decisions the filmmakers had for this movie. Not only because it looks so much better, but more so because it showed how the people behind this film were willing to make something good for the fans as opposed to being plagued by soulless studio executives. A lot of modern day films have this issue of trying to be more realistic when they’re based on animated properties to a fault where the characters just look unexpressive and grotesques looking. The Sonic movie escapes that trend because this was a film made by people who cared more about the property than anyone who greenlit something like a live action Disney remake would. Sonic doesn’t look like a realistic hedgehog because he’s not supposed to, he looks cartoony and expressive just the way fans initially loved the character for. Even outside of the design, it still is a relatively decent looking movie with some fun action sequences that really emphasized the sense of speed Sonic is known for even if it does feel similar to films like the recent X-men movies. Sonic does get some respect for making it an expressive CGI character that isn’t plagued by studio interference and should be more of a standard for future films based on animated properties.
A Solid Sonic Movie that Deserves a Chance
Sonic the Hedgehog is not quite a game changer of a film nor is it the 100% perfect film for the character but as a first attempt into the film world, it is decent. It caters more towards the kids than older Sonic fans but it’s not too much of an issue due to how expressive and fun the movie can be, especially when representing Sonic. If a sequel were to be made from the ground up with the new design in mind, it could be a vast improvement from what came prior being a full on Sonic movie. As it is however, Sonic the Hedgehog is a movie that is cute and faithful enough that it deserves a chance especially from longtime fans of the series. It’s not the ultimate mania of a Sonic experience but the fastest thing alive has experienced slower days for sure.