Sonic the Hedgehog, 2020.
Directed by Jeff Fowler.
Starring Ben Schwartz, James Marsden, Jim Carrey, Tika Sumpter, Lee Majdoub, Frank C. Turner, Adam Pally, Natasha Rothwell, and Neal McDonough.
After discovering a small, blue, fast hedgehog, a small-town police officer must help it defeat an evil genius who wants to do experiments on it.
After hitting a bit of a speed bump in its post-production process, Sonic the Hedgehog has arrived as the latest video game adaptation to the big screen. The film from director Jeff Fowler proves to be a fairly entertaining one with some cool action sequences that are rightly inspired by the Sonic games and good performances from its main cast. The only major downside is that the film veers a little too much into cheesy humour aimed for kids rather than something fans of all ages could enjoy (that said, though, it is a movie kids will very much eat up).
Based on the hit video game franchise, Sonic is hedgehog from another planet who is gifted with the power of supersonic speed. After hiding alone on Earth for several years so his power wouldn’t be abused by others, Sonic meets small town cop Tom (James Marsden), who helps protect him from getting captured by the evil and eccentric Dr. Robotnik.
For a movie about a super-speedy hedgehog, it is appropriate the runtime for the film rushes by at a nice pace. There aren’t many scenes that bog the story down or drag out too long and when it feels in danger of that, an action scene or funny moment injects new energy into the film. It flows pretty evenly throughout and the action isn’t repetitive, but rather finds new ways to showcase Sonic’s speed and what he or Robotnik are capable of. Whether it’s Sonic inadvertently starting a bar brawl or a highway chase, there’s a nice amount of variety in the set pieces.
Ben Schwartz makes for a pretty good Sonic as he captures the essence of the character and just how much he enjoys what he does. He also succeeds at making Sonic vulnerable as he spends the first act pining for some human connection after spending so long in hiding. His characterization is interesting apart from that as he’s a little more eccentric and silly than he is in the video games, but still just as quippy and feels a lot of enjoyment with his speed. James Marsden does a good job as Sonic’s human friend with pretending Sonic is actually there next to him. He displays nice comedic timing with some of the jokes, particularly one scene where they hide Sonic in a bag, and shares some good moment opposite Carrey. While Tika Sumpter has good chemistry with Marsden she’s rather underused until close to the third act, but still does a good job with her role as she helps Sonic and Tom and jokes about their growing BFF status.
And then of course there’s Jim Carrey, almost the star of the movie just as much as Sonic is. Carrey dives into the role with gusto, delivering his usual levels of crazy energy as the highly intelligent and fast-talking Robotnik. He’s pretty entertaining in the role and eats up being a (literal) moustache twirling cartoon villain, but sometimes he does overdo it. There are times where a scene might spend too much time with Robotnik or Carrey is just too eccentric or repetitive with what he does that makes him a little tiresome, but to the film’s credit every scene with Robotnik has a bit of variety as he’s always doing something new. Carrey seems to be enjoying himself in the role and once he’s in classic Robotnik gear he chews up the scenery even more.
The film’s delay to rework Sonic’s design and improve the visual effects paid off as Sonic not only resembles his video game appearance more closely, but looks great in the level of detail. The fur on Sonic looks fairly real at certain points and when he speeds around, whether down a street or around the room, the effects are very well done to emphasize how fast he is. The way he also interacts with Tom and various objects in the world makes it more believable that he is actually there. Even Robotnik’s creations are shown off in a menacing manner and detailed in their looks. It all comes together to give a visually appealing film.
The only real downside is the film’s level of humour. It skewers more toward the younger side rather than the type of humour all ages can enjoy and relies a little too much on slapstick elements for its comedy. In fairness to the film it is a kids movie and doesn’t hide away from it, but some of the juvenile humour feels a bit out of place for a Sonic property. Despite some of the humour, Sonic the Hedgehog is an entertaining film that kids will surely enjoy. The cast is good and the effects are very well done with some varied and exciting action beats that keep the film going. The sense of fun it gives along the way is pretty great thanks to Schwartz and Carrey’s performance as well as Fowler’s direction.
Flickering Myth Rating – Film: ★ ★ ★/ Movie: ★ ★ ★