Never has the power of social media played such a big role in influencing a character’s design before, prior to the adaptation of SEGA classic Sonic the Hedgehog. Following an overwhelmingly frosty response to the first unveiling of the character back in April 2019, director Jeff Fowler listened to fans and decided to delay the release to redesign the hedgehog. Enlisting Moving Picture Company, the visual effects studio behind Pokémon Detective Pikachu and The Lion King, Sonic is back and cuter than ever – but has the delay been worth the wait?
The world’s speediest hedgehog, Sonic (Parks and Recreation‘s Ben Schwartz) teams up with Green Hills sheriff, Tom Wachowski (James Marsden) to take down the evil tech genius Dr Robotnik (Jim Carrey) before he unleashes Sonic’s powers in order to gain world domination.
There’s no denying that this movie is very much targeted to a younger audience, as the end product is a very safe, family friendly action-adventure. The narrative is formulaic but full of heart; incorporating surprising themes of loneliness, family and friendship with a funny and furry lead, which kids will undoubtedly love. Director Jeff Fowler has commented that he attempted to make a Sonic movie for both the core fanbase and a new generation, but as a 90s kid who loved the SEGA game – I really would have liked to have seen more of the universe incorporated. We do get a glimpse of an impressive game accurate World, reminiscent of Green Hill Zone, in the all too brief prologue. But that’s not to say I didn’t enjoy the film; I appreciated the character driven narrative with Fowler focusing on the core elements which really worked, teasing an expanded universe in the mid-credits scene.
At the heart of the film is a surprisingly sweet bond between Marsden’s charming cop Tom Wachowski (aka doughnut lord) and Schwartz’s endearing and utterly likeable Sonic. The film truly finds it’s feet in the second half as the two finally team up on a fun road trip as Wachowski helps Sonic try and escape the clutches of Dr Robotnik. My personal favourite however was the (long overdue) return of Jim Carrey as Robotnik, who clearly revels in the delectably evil scientist role! He brings his signature physicality and hamminess to the moustache twirling villain, which really complements the tone of the film. When the two finally face off, complete with added upgrades in the third act, they really are impressively note perfect on-screen adaptations.
You really do have to applaud Moving Picture Company, the visual effects studio behind Sonic’s redesign, as the blue hedgehog was wonderfully brought to life through impressive textures and modelling. His lightning powers positively crackled on the big screen and were particularly impressive when unleashed in a blistering sonic boom. Mr Robotnik’s drones and creations were also well constructed and adapted, adding to the techno vein from the games. The main set pieces and car chases were fun but definitely not original, as they were clearly inspired by X-Men‘s iconic Quicksilver moments. I also really enjoyed the little easter eggs and references sprinkled throughout, particularly Sonic’s The Flash comic collection and his love for Keanu Reeves in Speed.
Sonic the Hedgehog is a fun but formulaic outing that kids will undoubtedly love, but the video game adaptation doesn’t quite reach the fuzzy heights of Pokémon Detective Pikachu.