What They Say:
After settling in Green Hills, Sonic is ready for more freedom, and Tom and Maddie agree to leave him home while they go on vacation. But no sooner are they gone, when Dr. Robotnik comes back, this time with a new partner, Knuckles, in search for an emerald that has the power to both build and destroy civilizations. Sonic teams up with his own sidekick, Tails, and together they embark on a journey to find the emerald before it falls into the wrong hands
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
When the original images for the first “Sonic the Hedgehog” movie were released longtime fans were furious with the design. The outcry of how “ugly” the character looked was so loud – came so fast – that Paramount decided to redesign the character and released the movie several months later to reviews that were shockingly good for a video game adaptation. Sure, the movie reminded us more of those 90’s adaptations that only ‘loosely’ resembled the product the studio was adapting, but it seemed oddly fitting that a franchise that hadn’t been a pop culture force since the 90s went back to the time period for a little inspiration. I know there was a lot of debate amongst film pendants (myself included) about whether we were letting overzealous fanboys direct movies before they were released. I understand where the argument was coming from (nobody thought Heath Ledger would make for a good Joker after all).
The reason I was more willing to let this one go is because I had gone through the two Michael Bay-produced Ninja Turtle movies and seeing the much better redesign in the second film compared to the first one, I knew all too well how having a bad design for the main characters could sink the film before it had a chance to swim. That gesture of good faith was enough to get the fans into the seats, but there was some grumbling that the film (enjoyable as it was) could have been an adaptation of anything really. Change the main character to Speedy Gonzales and would you have a movie that was drastically different? For as much as the redesign helped, the first movie was still just a typical family CGI adaptation of a popular cartoon character that happened to be more enjoyable than it had any right to be.
With “Sonic the Hedgehog 2” director Jeff Fowler is not only more confident in the movie he wants to make, he’s decided to lean into the quirky lore of the Sonic games to make a movie that is more fun, more exciting, and, yes, moves at a much brisker pace. Though Sonic’s live-action family still makes an appearance in this adventure (and Tika Sumpter is utilized MUCH better this time around), the film belongs not only to Sonic, but newcomers Tails and Knuckles (who aren’t so much new characters as they are classic staples of the franchise that the studio is wisely getting around to using properly)! Jim Carrey is also bad as the evil Doctor Robotnik and seems to be having the time of his life as he mugs for the camera and delivers his ‘rubber man’ slapstick that made him so popular in (you guessed it) the 90s!
The story won’t be particularly surprising to newcomers of the series or fans of the games; without getting into too many details (because there really isn’t any need to based on the final product), it involves Robotnik (Carrey) seeking out the Master Emerald, a powerful jewel that cane provide unspeakable power to the one who yields it. For fans of the games, they will squeal at the game-centric storyline while those who are not players will nod as they easily figure out where this is all going. This is not a knock on the franchise at all, but subtly wasn’t this series strong suit back then either (we were just much easier to be entertained). Gamers will be at a bigger advantage as they take note of all the Easter Eggs that reference the various games, level designs, and even clues for characters that could appear in upcoming movies.
For non-players, the addition of Tails (Colleen O’Shaughnessey) and Knuckles (Idris Elba) will be welcome additions, as they not only give Sonic someone his own size to bounce off of, but their addition also allows the film to rely more on animation for action sequences that are (I’m not going to lie) pretty darn cool when you get down to it. That “Sonic the Hedgehog 2” is an improvement and seems to be carving out its own identity in a family genre that’s gone stale is something I am happy to report. That non-players will likely find aspects of the film to enjoy despite being at a disadvantage will likely be a relief to the parents reading this. There is, of course, a post-credits scene that even hints at the appearance of a fan-favorite villain joining us the next time around. The question now is will the series continue to stay safe and family-friendly, or will the filmmakers use this introduction as an excuse to bring the series into PG-13 territory? Forgive the pun, but “Sonic the Hedgehog 3” can’t get here fast enough!