A Long Time Coming
We all knew this day was coming. Frankly, many of us expected it about 25 year sooner, but better late than never I guess. The only problem is my inner ten year old has been killed by a healthy stream of booze and depression, so there’s not much to enjoy about Sonic the Hedgehog.
So far, the movie has been known for its last-minute alterations due to the original model of the Sonic character looking more like a Cronenberg creation rather than a beloved video game character.
The first few minutes of the movie give us what the movie should have been: Sonic frolicking in a lush CG world ripped straight from the code of the Sega Genesis games most gamers who grew up in the 90s remember with fondness. Much like Masters of the Universe in the 1980s, we are taken from this much more interesting world and sent to Earth.
Primarily taking place in the Montana town of Green Hills (Get it? Please tell me you get it), we follow Sonic as he grows from urban legend to beloved hero. Along the way, we’re treated to numerous Easter Eggs referring to Sonic’s history, and I wonder if his nickname of “Blue Devil” by Crazy Carl is a sly reference to the underappreciated web series Sonic For Hire.
Following his history of terrible career decisions, James Marsden serves as our human contact on this journey. Sonic refers to him as “Doughnut Lord” because…comedy? I guess. He’s a small-town sheriff who dreams of proving he can make it on the rough and tumble streets of San Francisco.
Serving as his diversity hire wife is Tika Sumpter who’s most memorable scene is wearing a somewhat revealing yellow top. Other than that, it would have been less pandering if Jonah Hill was cast as Marsden’s husband.
The highlight of the film is definitely Jim Carrey’s Dr. Robotnik who brings his vintage 90s over-the-top buffoonery. It’s like he’s the only one who realizes what kind of movie he is in and treats his time on screen accordingly. I’m not saying every minute of Carrey’s Robotnik is golden, but for those who grew up on Ace Ventura and The Mask, it is a welcome return to form.
The overall story appears to have been churned out by the generic Hollywood Script-O-Matic. In fact, this movie probably began as a generic mismatched buddy/road-trip comedy #604 and was just repurposed as a Sonic movie.
Even as a road-trip movie, it fucks that up as they only have one real stop at a generic biker bar. Whoever wrote the movie must be a fan of the more recent X-Men movies as Sonic rips off Quicksilver’s slow-motion action scenes.
Like the Super Mario Brothers movie before it, the biggest flaw in Sonic The Hedgehog is there’s not much particularly to it that makes it feel like a Sonic movie. I don’t recall chaos emeralds ever being mentioned, and apart from one brief tease at the end, the only characters from Sonic’s expansive lore are Sonic and Robotnik. Sonic’s rings serve as the McGuffin of the movie, and he is given his iconic red shoes by a character we know nothing about and other than the visual memba-berry, the shoes serve no purpose.
Along the way, there are other little Easter eggs for fans who have followed the Sonic franchise. He drops an Eggman reference on Robotnik, and I want to say his racing car bed is a nod to his Mario Kart rip-off series. More eagle-eyed viewers might have picked up on others, but I was too busy thinking how playing one of the beloved 16-Bit Sonics, or the newly minted love letter of Sonic Mania, would be a much more worthy way to spend an hour and a half with this character.
A Solid Meh
Giving this film a grade to align with his games, I would put it in the Sonic Spinball category: a title that has enough aesthetics to give the impression of Sonic, but overall a generally hollow experience.
Hopefully, if this movie proves to be successful, we’ll get the Sonic movie we actually deserve next time. Probably not, but a jaded-90s gamer can dream.