Sonic the Hedgehog

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Poster for the movie "Sonic the Hedgehog"

Sonic the Hedgehog

A Whole New Speed of Hero

20201 h 39 min

Based on the global blockbuster videogame franchise from Sega, Sonic the Hedgehog tells the story of the world’s speediest hedgehog as he embraces his new home on Earth. In this live-action adventure comedy, Sonic and his new best friend team up to defend the planet from the evil genius Dr. Robotnik and his plans for world domination.

Director Jeff Fowler
Runtime 1 h 39 min
Release Date 12 February 2020
Movie Media Cinema
Movie Status Available
Movie Rating Good

Video game movies are a fickle thing, particularly live action adaptations. For a very long time, they were bad. Like, really, really bad. But in more recent years, we have seen some transition from “entertaining because it’s a dumpster fire” to “objectively a good film”. And that is where Sonic the Hedgehog falls: a good film. Not a great film, but something fun for the family that can be used to entertain yourselves for the evening. A looser adaptation like this film or Detective Pikachu seems to be the right formula for a video game movie to turn out right.

First, let’s look at plot. This is where most video game movies fall flat. Because it turns out that squeezing an 8+ hour game into a 90-minute film is hard. But Sonic the Hedgehog does not really have a plot. The later games do, but the old-school original games were just Sonic running around smashing robots. The film makers were able to put enough game references in here to make it still feel like Sonic while simultaneously changing things to better fit a film vs. video game format without making things suck.

Next are the characters, starting with Sonic himself. The portrayal here is very true to the video game version of his character. He is young and fun-loving, viewing a lot of the danger around them like a game. But when he needs to get serious, he can. This is helped by his being voiced by Ben Schwartz, who I at least know as the goofy Jean-Ralphio from Parks and Rec.

And then there is the other big star, Jim Carrey. It had been a long, long time since I had seen him in anything. Probably not since the A Series of Unfortunate Events movie. And he is just as goofy here as he was as Count Olaf. He is much sillier than Dr. Robotnik is usually portrayed, but it works because it’s Jim Carrey. While funny and entertaining, he is also unhinged and just mean enough to be a real villain and come off as a threat to Sonic and his friends.

Lastly, we have James Marsden playing the token human friend that any movie with a CGI animal protagonist uses. He has come a long way since X-men, namely in that he actually feels like the main character he is supposed to be in this movie. He winds up in a kind of fatherly/big brother role to Sonic and more than once thwarts Eggman’s plans. This is one of the few instances where the added-in-for-the-film-adaption human character feels natural instead of forced.

Overall, this is a fun film for classic Sonic fans and kids new to the franchise. There are a lot of references to the series throughout the film (hint: the town’s name) while it remains a lighthearted story ultimately aimed at children. Probably not going to win any awards, but a fun movie for anyone who enjoys family-friendly films.

February 23, 2020

Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens

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Star Wars: The Force Awakens

Every generation has a story.

20152 h 16 min

Thirty years after defeating the Galactic Empire, Han Solo and his allies face a new threat from the evil Kylo Ren and his army of Stormtroopers.

Director J.J. Abrams
Runtime 2 h 16 min
Release Date 18 December 2015
Movie Media Cinema
Movie Status Available
Movie Rating Very good

We cannot in good faith review all these new canon Star Wars books without addressing the first film of the Disney Era. As strong as the urge to just geek out over The Force Awakens is, an analysis of this film must be conducted objectively. With the crazy amount of press leading up to Episode VII, it would be easy to get overhyped and expect too much from the film. That being said, this review will go over what was good, what was bad, and what we can expect from Episode VIII and other future installments to the franchise. Spoilers will be kept to an absolute minimum within the confines of this review; there will be no crucial plot details in this review. However, please be warned that there will be a few minor spoiler-ish elements of the film mentioned.

It has been 30 years since the end of Episode VI. A lot has happened in that timeframe, giving The Force Awakens the traditional Star Wars feel of “this is part of a MUCH larger story”. This was frustrating at first; fans want that three-decade gap to be filled in. Overall this was a good choice, but there were parts of the film where audiences do not really know enough about what was going on to care. Viewers obviously know “Light Side good, Dark Side bad” but that can only hold you over so much.

The new protagonists did an excellent job of keeping up with the old stars. Now that we have a new generation of heroes fighting alongside the old guard, we cannot help but compare them. Although all the main characters are deeply involved in the films events, we no longer see everything resting on the shoulders of our beloved characters from the original trilogy. Luke, Han, and Leia have become old warriors and serve more as mentors to the new blood than anything else. This too was an excellent decision; the old Star Wars Expanded Universe really got stale when it was only those three who could ever save the galaxy from whatever new threat had popped up.

While The Force Awakens was traditional Star Wars, it was almost too traditional. It is understandable to put in scenes similar to parts of the previous films as throwbacks, but for large portions of this movie it felt like they were just rehashing pieces of Episode IV. Even as they did this, it felt underwhelming due to the lack of knowledge regarding the new canon. In the original film, fans could watch just the movie and know nothing else about Star Wars. That was enough to let us know that the evil Empire had taken over and that the Rebel Alliance was the galaxy’s last hope because there was no other Star Wars material prior to that movie. In this film, we know nothing about the state of the galaxy at large other than the First Order is growing in power and becoming a threat to the vaguely mentioned Republic. For whatever reason, the Republic military is (secretly?) funding a Resistance instead of dealing with this problem directly. Why? The film explains in-depth that people know the Force is real and the Dark Side is a threat. The First Order is being run by Dark Side people, so go fight them! Problem solved.

Another major issue with the film was Kylo Ren, the new Dark Side bad guy. He starts off ok at the beginning of the film, when his role and motives are mysterious and vague. But the more we learned about this guy, the less likable he became. His character is more reminiscent of a spoiled, angry child than anything else; he is extremely different from the Sith villains in the other trilogies, and not in a good way. By no means did Adam Driver do a bad job of portraying the character. The issue was with the character himself and how Kylo Ren was written.

A big part of the Star Wars universe has always been the spaceships, lasers, and other futuristic technology. The Force Awakens does not seem to hold a lot of consistency with what weapons are capable of. The strength of lasers, even multiple shots fired from the same gun, seem to do as much damage to their target as the scene calls for. While this is not a big issue for the film, it can be annoying for fans of the technology in sci-fi franchises.

While there is so much more that could be said about The Force Awakens, further discussion could be hovering dangerously close to major spoiler territory. Obviously, you should go see the film if you have even the slightest interest in this type of movie. Overall the film was good; not great, but good. It is a hard movie to judge since it is only the first part of a new trilogy but (especially compared to Episode I) we are off to a great start so far.

December 20, 2015