A Whole New Speed of Hero
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.
ActorsStarring: Ben Schwartz, James Marsden, Jim Carrey, Tika Sumpter, Lee Majdoub, Frank C. Turner, Adam Pally, Natasha Rothwell, Neal McDonough, Debs Howard, Bailey Skodje, Lisa Chandler, Elfina Luk, Michael Hogan, Shannon Chan-Kent, Emma Oliver, Dean Petriw, Nicholas Dohy, Melody Nosipho Niemann, Jeanie Cloutier, Jeff Sanca, Steve Warky Nunez, John Flanagan, Bethel Lee, Breanna Watkins, Eleanor Whibley, Jeremy Arnold, Richard David Lecoin, John Specogna, Colleen O'Shaughnessey, Keanu Reeves, Dennis Hopper, Leslie Nielsen, Garry Chalk, Scott Patey
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.