REVIEW: Sonic The Hedgehog (2020)
“Blue Blur or Blue Devil, this speedy flick is very ‘Omoshiroi~!’ indeed!”
The Sonic The Hedgehog movie had quite the hype and history leading up to its eventual release. It was around this time last year that the general audience saw first hand what Sonic would look like on the big screen. Needless to say, they were not happy with the design choice. Several months later, a new design for Sonic was revealed to greater approval. The slated November 2019 release was pushed back to a February 2020 release due to the resulting backlash.
Sonic’s design was just the cherry on top for most skeptics at the time. Fans of the classic Sonic animated series will remember Jaleel White as the iconic voice for Sonic. Many of said fans wanted him to reprise his role for the feature film. Ultimately, that role fell on Ben Schwartz of Parks & Recreation fame.
Throughout the trailers, the absence of many other iconic characters from the universe wasn’t ignored. Many had thought that Jim Carrey’s role of Eggman Dr. Robotnik would be the only bright spot in this film of uncertainty. The reputation of video game movie adaptations in the past also preceded any major hope savvy fans would have as well.
However, with the release of Detective Pikachu, I had newfound hope for Sonic The Hedgehog. Detective Pikachu was a movie with an original yet at-times nonsensical plot fueled by star power. Ryan Renolds played the titular character as well as one would expect, though the supporting cast were passable.
Still, compared to the terrible era of horrific fighting video games to movie adaptations earlier on in the decade, Detective Pikachu was a breath of fresh air. It was a fun movie littered with references that fans of Pokemon will catch, yet it was never over-reliant on them. The movie was able to provide its own form of momentum from start to finish. It wasn’t perfect, but it got the job done.
It may seem like I was giving a mini overview on Detective Pikachu, but the same thoughts can be applied to Sonic The Hedgehog as well. It was a fun movie with an original, yet highly nonsensical, plot. I’ll excuse the plot on the grounds that it’s Sonic The Hedgehog. Sonic was never quite known for intricate stories.
I am aware that this game exists, but, this is the exception rather than the rule.
Look who developed the game guys. C’mon.
Whoever was in charge of the script could have watched the entire first season of Sonic X for all I know and based some of their ideas for the film.
My point is, while there is a reason for Sonic to arrive on Planet Earth via his backstory, it’s not the main attraction of the film. The fuel that powers this movie are two dynamics.
The first is the dynamic between Sonic and Tom, the human protagonist of the movie. Remember when I joked about inspiration from Sonic X? The punchline punches itself.
Okay I know I’m not being fair in comparing a kid to a grown police officer but it’s the same energy!
Oh, right. The human sidekick is a police officer from a small town in Montana. Wanna know the name of the town?
Green Hills, Montana! Get it! Green Hill? The introductory zone that will never
Go away in some way shape or form?
I’m not gonna lie I looked it up just to see if such a place exists in Montana. I was sad to discover that was false. Bummer.
Sonic and Tom share most of their screen time together and you have some classic tropes. The “we’re a family!” trope, the “trying to understand someone different than you” trope, and the classic “ROAD TRIP!” trope.
The cliches aren’t bad however. They only seemed to enhance the dynamic that these two characters have with each other. Sonic is filled to the brim and armed to the teeth with pop culture references for centuries. Any reference you can think of is there.
Several speed puns involving his collection of Flash comics including the movie, Speed, itself? Check. References to The Fast and The Furious? Also check. References to modern gaming such as live streaming and…a certain dance that is honestly dated at this point? Checkmark.
Sonic’s personality is unique to this movie yet key components remain. He’s still very much so impulsive, adventurous, and bold as his other counterparts. One thing I feel the movie does right is his development. He doesn’t know the power of his own strength or his own powers. Sometimes he overestimates his abilities, which leads to trouble for both Sonic and Tom. Other times, he feels out of place and yearning for family. By the end of the movie, however, there are enough seeds planted to promote further growth in the inevitable sequel.
The human protagonist, Tom, was surprisingly as interesting. We’re introduced to his character as a wise-cracking police officer who would fit the role of a cocky protagonist in any other movie. At times he tries to play the straight man to Sonic’s antics, but after a certain part in the movie, he’s not that far from Sonic in terms of impulsiveness.
Marsden, who plays the role of Tom, is no slouch either as he delivers his one-liners, matching the same energy as Sonic. Most importantly, he is able to stand on firm ground with Jim Carrey’s Robotnik. I honestly loved seeing them both on the screen as they tried to show who was the bigger smartass.
Ah! Jim Carrey! The main reason why everyone’s interests were piqued to high levels. This leads into the second dynamic. The man with the master plan! He is the Eggman Doctor.
In trailers and in promotional images, Carrey never looked better. In this movie, it is my honor to say that Carrey looked in rare form. The quirky and zany antics of Dr. Robotnik portrayed by Carrey felt nostalgic, harking back to the days of Liar Liar and The Mask. The hair-triggering jerk reactions, the body language, and the endless amount of quips made Carrey a perfect role for the Egghead. I could literally fill this review with all of his one-liners and dialogue. That’s how subtle yet powerful they were.
Remember when I said that the plot was a tad bit diluted? I’d say that Robotnik’s introduction is where the movie begins to take flight and he’s introduced fairly early. If you look at the movie as an hour and some change of Tom and Jerry style antics, with Robotnik and Sonic respectively, then you’ll get the most mileage out of the film.
Finally I’d like to mention the miscellaneous. The attention to detail to Sonic’s design is amazing, from his fur to his beat-up footwear. The method in which he received his iconic kicks was also adorable.
The special effects were also spot-on. There are two moments in the movie where Sonic is using his speed to get himself out of a disadvantageous situation. In both of these scenes, the rate of speed is exaggerated by a still frame of his surroundings.
For those familiar with “bullet-time” and “slo mo” effects in video games, these are how the scene plays out. Seeing Sonic manipulate the environment around him only for time to regulate into “normal time” was one of the better touches of the movie from a design standpoint. I honestly wished there were more scenes like that in the movie.
As mentioned earlier with “Green Hills,” there are several in-universe references as well. I won’t mention them all, but my favorite had to have been the “Hill Top Road” street sign.
This obviously refers to Hill Top Zone from Sonic 2.
There are also references to his moves, from the iconic spin dash, to other niche ones such as his wall kick.
For a ninety-minute movie, Sonic The Hedgehog cuts to the chase, pun intended, with no filler. Post opening credits, every scene in the movie had a purpose for progression. Nothing ever seems to overstay its welcome.
For a film geared towards the younger audience, it’s enough to keep their attention span with enough content to keep the fans of Sonic in their seats. For the parents of said younger audience, the appearance of Jim Carey in rare form is a treat in itself to see. It’s not a perfect movie, but it is far from the dumpster fire that everyone feared it would be. It is, however, more than good enough to check it out.
Sonic the Hedgehog is now showing in theaters. This Valentine’s Day weekend, take your Amy Rose out on a movie date and enjoy a fun movie after dinner!
And park your butts in your seats after the credits for a surprise! Don’t leave the theater!