FILM REVIEW: SONIC THE HEDGEHOG (2020)

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Sonic the Hedgehog: Your egg drones are impressive, Eggman! But face it, you’ll never catch me!

Dr. Robotnik: Confidence… a fool’s substitute for intelligence!

Director: Jeff Fowler

Writers: Pat Casey, Josh Miller

Starring: Jim Carrey, James Marsden, Tika Sumpter, Natasha Rothwell, Adam Pally and Ben Schwartz as the voice of Sonic

Synopsis: Sonic is an anthropomorphic blue hedgehog who has transported to Earth and makes friends with a local Police Officer, while a mad Scientist tries to capture him.

The last film I watched pre-pandemic in the cinemas. What a time, I had no idea that this would be the last movie I watched in the cinema for a whole year! Well actually that’s not true I did end up seeing Tenet and Wonder Woman 1984. However this is about Sonic the Hedgehog – the movie! The iconic video game character, rival to Nintendo’s Mario Brothers. As a child I had a Sega Master System (not a Nintendo) I’m not sure why I got Sega I don’t remember deciding. Sonic the Hedgehog was one of my first video games I played all the time. Eventually I got Sonic the Hedgehog 2 (with Tails) on the next Sega machine – Sega Mega Drive. I kept up with the following sequels as time went on. Sonic was one of my favorite characters growing up. As a kid I always imagined a live action film with an animated version of him in it. During the early nineties this idea wasn’t unheard of. The hit film Who Framed Roger Rabbit was able to blend animation with live action seamlessly and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles a television cartoon had a popular live action film. Even Nintendo’s Super Mario Bros had a live action film. They should have made a Sonic film in the nineties everyone would have loved it. However here we are now twenty years later and Sonic finally has a film. In early 2020 it was a weird time for Sonic the Hedgehog to appear in a live action film because Sega hadn’t produced a popular video game with Sonic the Hedgehog in it since the nineties. Unfortunately, the arrival of the Playstation 2, and Microsoft’s Xbox in the early 2000’s, meant the end for Sega as a console manufacturer and in 2001 the company became a games developer for other platforms, including their former rivals, Sony, Microsoft and Nintendo. Several games featuring Sonic would pop up time after time but none of them had the mass popularity of the nineties Sega Mega Drive games. Characters such as Mario and Link were able to continue in their popularity into 2020 thanks to Nintendo being able to keep up with Playstation and Xbox. I admit I am now a Nintendo Switch addict and Mario and Link have taken over as my favourite video game characters. However, I will forever have fond memories of playing hours of Sonic as a kid and it was a treat to take my daughter to see him on the big screen even though she played Mario with me and didn’t really know who Sonic was.

The film makes it easy for newcomers to become familiar with Sonic and most children will get a kick out of his fun, free-spirited attitude. He’s a child as the film opens who lives on another planet with a talking Owl named Longclaw who is like a mother figure for Sonic. Although in the video game Sonic collected rings to increase his power and lives, in the film rings are used to travel to different planets (eventually they are used to teleport anywhere). Sonic’s home planet is under threat and Longclaw gets Sonic to teleport to Earth before she is killed by Echidna-type characters. (Similar to the opening of Superman). The film’s opening is beautiful to look at and a great adaptation of the game, especially the opening level of Green Hills. The characters are designed in CGI and look fantastic. They mix with the live action world realistically. Early in production a trailer went out with a different design for Sonic and audiences were so mad on social media that Paramount had to delay the release to update the design.
As Sonic lands on Earth he grows up in Green Hills, Montana on his own in a quiet, sleepy town that has zero crime and apparently two police officers. One of the Police Officer’s is Tom Wachowski (played by the vanilla James Marsden). Tom is married to the beautiful Maddie played by Tika Sumpter, who has fun with her minor role. Sonic is a fun loving, very fast anthropomorphic blue Hedgehog, however growing up alone has left him lonely and longing for friendship and connection. As he watches kids play baseball, he tells himself he is okay living on his own. That night he plays on an empty court and begins running so fast in anger that he causes an electromagnetic pulse which causes a massive power outage across his town. This gets the attention of the two police officers (the other Officer Wade is played by the hilarious Adam Pally from the excellent sitcom Happy Endings) Tom Wachowski has just been offered a new job in San Francisco and at the time he is packing to leave the town. Wade is completely useless as a Police Officer and calls Tom in a panic. While this is happening Sonic hides in Tom’s garage and they both accidently meet in shock. What follows is a road trip comedy or more of a father-son relationship that anchors the narrative. Sonic needs to leave Earth to a Mushroom Planet because he fears he may get taken by the Government for his powers. Tom agrees to take him to San Francisco where he left his rings which will take him to that planet. Did I mention Jim Carrey is in this…?

For fans of the video game, you will remember Sonic’s nemesis, the fat, bald and loud, Dr Eggman Robotnik, who would use robots and spaceships to attack Sonic at the end of each level. In the film he is played by Jim Carrey (who is completely unleashed) as a highly intelligent and arrogant Scientist who wants to find Sonic and harness his powers. If you are a fan of Jim Carrey from his Ace Ventura, The Mask and Liar, Liar performances you will enjoy his addition to the film. If you don’t then I tell you now do not watch this film! Carrey is completely unhinged in the role bringing his brand of humour to next level altitudes (pardon the pun). As a nineties kid I am a fan of Carrey’s comedic roles and I have to admit I enjoyed his performance in the film. The film overall becomes a mix of Jim Carrey performing a comedy routine and a buddy/adventure comedy with Sonic and Tom.

The film is harmless fun for the family to watch on a lazy afternoon or Saturday night. There is nothing here to offend (unless you hate Jim Carrey). The humour is aimed at both adults and children so everyone should have a fun time. The film works even for non-fans of Sonic as he is a great character for kids being funny, fast and generally inoffensive as a quick witted teenage boy. My daughter enjoyed it despite never playing a Sonic game. I think the film works as a mix of comedy, adventure and fantasy. Everything you would want from a film based on a video game and it’s probably one of the best made video game films (which isn’t a far stretch). I’ll even go out and get a new Sonic video game to have some gameplay nostalgia.

Ranking12345
Plot✔
Character development✔
Cause and effect✔
Acting✔
Camera techniques✔
Sound✔
Lighting✔
My Opinion✔

B+

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