Sonic the Hedgehog

PARAMOUNT PICTURES (2020)

 

Director: Jeff Fowler

 

Starring: James Marsden, Ben Schwartz, Tika Sumpter, Jim Carrey

Ah, to be a kid again.

 

As a young one, I spent SO MANY HOURS playing various Sonic the Hedgehog games on Sega Master System and Mega Drive – my personal favourite was always Sonic & Knuckles – and couldn’t understand why people would rather play with Mario on that other console instead (especially given that a year prior to that games release came the diabolical Super Mario Bros. movie...). With the quality of video games generally below terrible, I wasn’t entirely excited for a Sonic movie, especially given the original look of the character, but Jeff Fowler went back to the drawing board for a tune up and now we have it – Sonic the Hedgehog...the movie.

Finding himself in Green Hills, Montana for his own safety (having been teleported from his homeworld away from a gang of angry echidnas), Sonic (Schwartz) spends his days watching the locals, with a fondness for the sheriff, Tom Wachowski (Marsden) and his wife Maddie (Sumpter). When the loneliness of a life in hiding becomes too much, Sonic accidentally triggers an electromagnetic pulse that affects power across the Pacific Northwest leading to oddbod science genius Doctor Robotnik (Carrey) being drafted in to investigate the strange occurrence and hunt down the perpetrator with his futuristic arsenal of weapons.

 

First and foremost, I’m pleased to say that Sonic the Hedgehog is a far better movie than Super Mario Bros. (suck it, Mario) but that’s an extremely low bar to hit. On its own, Sonic is surprisingly entertaining and endearing, still not excellent by any means, but an enjoyable flick nonetheless. The voice work of Ben Schwartz lends Sonic a genuine humanity, James Marsden is game for a laugh and Jim Carrey turns back the clock with a vintage, though comparatively restrained, performance – all combining to deliver a committed cast performance that goes a long way towards the success of the movie. The relationship between Sonic and Tom is allowed to develop and creates the heartbeat of the movie as the pair slowly become friends over the course of the movie. Given the online furore over the look of Sonic, the finished design is very decent and the overall VFX are at a good standard. It’s the overall storytelling that leaves something to be desired, it’s an origin story that has been seen many times over, though, this is aimed at the younger generation who probably just want dancing hedgehogs, gags and fun action sequences. Luckily for the kids, they get all three. Whilst the dancing and gags may have been underwhelming for the most part, the action scenes were at least pleasing – a superspeed/superslow (depending on your species) bar room fight being the highlight.

 

What could have been a disaster turned out to be something quite respectable and gives the video game genre another boost given the success of 2018’s Tomb Raider. Sonic the Hedgehog isn’t a game-changer for the genre, but it’s an entertaining shot in the arm which is better than it probably should have been.

February 24th 2020

© 2016 Matt Hudson / What I Watched Tonight / Essex

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