Sonic The Hedgehog (2020) Review

With this, the 31st film in this marathon, we draw it to a close, and it’s somehow fitting that I started with a (crap) Mario film and end with a good (!!) Sonic The Hedgehog film, the two rival iconic franchises of my childhood. In the three decades between the films we have only now started to find a groove of good productions (ignoring the straight-to-disc Doom film) that actually pay homage to the source material while doing their own thing. Admittedly that’s only two films in a row, and at least one film on the horizon isn’t looking good (hello Monster Hunter!) but still! Let’s take a look at Sonic The Hedgehog, the film that despite looking like a train wreck a year ago has managed to pull one out of the bag!

Synopsis:

Powered with incredible speed, Sonic embraces his new home on Earth — until he accidentally knocks out the power grid, sparking the attention of uncool evil genius Dr. Robotnik. Now, it’s supervillain vs. supersonic in an all-out race across the globe to stop Robotnik from using Sonic’s unique power to achieve world domination.

*spoilers appear from here on out!*

The Good:

Sonic being amusing and cute after destroying something that for all he knew had a living person inside (it didn’t luckily for him, the bastard!)

As I knew going in thanks to the trailers, the definite highlight of the film for me was seeing Jim Carrey back in his 90s overly-energetic insane form as Dr. Robotnik. I actually did a rare social media post saying “Jim Carry cast as Dr. Robotnik has to be one of the weirdest headlines I’m ever going to read”, and while I was right (he doesn’t exactly look the part!) it turned out great. Crazy monologues, cheesy lines, weird dancing sequence while he runs a test of one of Sonic’s quills, all seen in the trailers admittedly, but all still hilarious. Given it was funny for this now-36-year-old I can imagine it was a hit with the film’s target audience as well.

Speaking of the target audience, this film reminds me a lot of the other actually good film in this marathon, Detective Pikachu, in that it’s a really good kids film that also resonates with older people watching, especially if they’re fans of the source material. I mean Sonic’s lore has been changed to being sent to Earth (from what I’m going to assume is Mobius, even if it was never called that!) by a large owl using the gold rings that in this universe can teleport people to wherever they wish, BUT apart from that it’s all good. Sonic is definitely closer to the (childhood favourite) cartoon which I’ll admit is on the obnoxious side as an adult, but I’m sure it was a hit with those young and similarly hyper-active seeing this film in the cinema.

It’s funny that something some close to my childhood also has Jim Carrey return to his 90s insanity…

So Sonic (voiced by Ben Schwartz) has had to stay in hiding, but has nonetheless fully integrated himself into American culture, a lot of which came from observing small town police officer Tom Wachowski (James Marsden) in the town of Green Hills (Green Hill Zone! Way-hey! etc.) Sonic gets angry at being alone one night and reveals himself to the world by generating a massive blackout with his unearthly powers and soon ends up actually meeting and talking to Wachowski while trying to go into hiding. During this meeting Sonic loses his bag of teleporting rings through a portal to Chicago and so the blue blur and Tom go on a road trip full of “person out of place” humour and a X-Men style “person running so face it looks like everything has frozen” scene in the bar, all the while Robotnik is on their tail. It’s a perfectly fine set up.

They then go the route of “fun immature character falls out with the person he looks up to, gets hurt and then they make up”, before a final confrontation with Robotnik which thanks to the rings takes place all over the world before ending at Green Hills. Sonic gets full of crazy blue lightning powers and with Tom’s help shunts Robotnik off into the weird mushroom planet he was due to flee to next. Sonic moves in with Tom and his wife Maddie (Tika Sumpter), who helped for a bit towards the end, all for a “finally been accepted into a family at last” feel-good ending… followed by some credits with a-bit-better-than 16-bit graphic retelling of key film scenes… followed by two mid-credit cutaways, one of Robotnik on the Mushroom planet with a bald head and giant moustache (therefore looking far more like his game counterpart) and one where Tails arrives out of a portal looking for Sonic to set up a sequel, a sequel I’m looking forward to, which is something I never thought I’d say about a live-action Sonic film! Hell, a game-based film in general, frankly…

The Bad:

Sonic being annoying and cute…. just in general.

Well, I hate to rag on a family film for lacking originality, but there wasn’t anything here you haven’t seen 1,000 times before. Outside loner who wants a friend finally finds a friend, they fall out, then get back together for the exciting finale… It’s entirely predictable, but as mentioned, it does it well when so many children’s films are just anthropomorphic animals farting (which only happens once in this film…) Just don’t go in expecting to be surprised about anything… hell, they actually used the “I know what you’re thinking, how did I get into this mess?” opening, complete with scenes from the end of the film before “rewinding” back to start the film. I always hate that cliché, it just shows you have no faith in the start of your story…  So yeah, no surprises, especially if you’ve watched the trailers as they gave away pretty much everything!

There were moments with Tom’s sister-in-law Rachel (Natasha Rothwell) where she constantly tells Maddie to leave him, but they’re written and performed in such a way that it weirdly felt unpleasant rather than a funny gag. She later gets tied up and accidentally left in her home for days, and frankly… good. …? Or maybe that’s going a bit far, I don’t know. Either way they stuck out to me as not being funny in a film I was otherwise enjoying. I also really enjoyed Robotnik’s long-suffering sidekick Agent Stone (Lee Majdoub) and was sad to see him just not appear in the latter third of the film, even if admittedly I’m not sure how he could’ve appeared while Robotnik was chasing Sonic around the globe…

Overall Thoughts:

Oh yeah, right, the main human protagonist. Nearly forgot to show him at all…

We end the Game to Live Action Movie Marathon the opposite of how we started: with a really good film that works with the source material really well. Overall it’s not a family film that will wow you with originality, but it is one that will entertain all audiences watching, including fans of the original gaming franchise.

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