Ah Valentine’s Day, a day where couples can spend time together and watch a newly released film. Unfortunately, I can only relate to the second half of that sentence and the movie that I saw on Valentine’s Day was Sonic the Hedgehog. While I’m somewhat of a fan of the video game series, I was really hesitant to see this because movies based on video game properties don’t usually have a great outcome. The only decent video game movie to come out (in my opinion) in the past couple of years was Pokémon: Detective Pikachu. If there was anything that gave me hope before I saw this was the visuals. For those who don’t know, this movie was supposed to be released back in November 2019, but that changed when the trailer was released that same year and the design for Sonic was downright atrocious. People responded negatively. It was so bad that the filmmakers acknowledged this and delayed the film so that they could give a proper design for the fans. Nine months and now the film has been released with a much better Sonic design than the one that they had originally. Did the re-design help make this a better film overall? Let’s find out.
In this live action adaptation of the famous video game series, Sonic the Hedgehog follows Sonic (voiced by Ben Schwartz), who is a blue hedgehog from another planet. While that description is bizarre enough, he also has a special power which allows him to travel at infinite speed. This special power, however, attracts enemies that want to use it for their own ill-designs, which forces Sonic to leave his home world and come to ours by using a bag of magic rings (I wish the bizzarre premise stopped there but no). From there Sonic lives in a small town called Green Hill (a clever nod to the games), and everything is going great until he unintentionally causes a surge of energy similar to an electro magnetic pulse EMP) that causes a black out across the nation (you still with me?). This catches the government’s attention and they send out a professional by the name of Dr. Ivo Robertnik (Jim Carrey) to investigate this phenomenon, which means Sonic now has to leave Earth. Before he gets the chance to use one of his rings to escape, Tom the town sheriff (James Marsden) discovers him and accidentally tranquilizes Sonic where his bag of magic rings ends of on top of a building in San Francisco (it’s difficult to explain how but bear with me). From there, Sonic and Tom must flee to San Francisco to retrieve Sonic’s rings before Dr. Robotnik captures them. That premise wasn’t too bizarre was it?
I won’t lie, I was actually very hesitant to see Sonic the Hedgehog despite the massive improvement in the visuals. In the end, however, I found this film to be bearable with enjoyable moments. Don’t get me wrong, this is definitely my least favorite film that I’ve seen this year. Yet for a film that I was expecting to be as bad as getting a root canal, I ended up leaving with the feeling of getting a cavity filled. Some bad moments, but ended up leaving with a good feeling.
For a change let me start off with Sonic the Hedgehog‘s problems, then follow it up with some positivity.
One of my biggest problems when it comes to adapting something onto the big screen (especially if it’s a family film) is the writing. I know I wasn’t expecting Shakespeare with Sonic the Hedgehog, but lazy writing is something that I take notice right away, and Sonic had plenty moments. Maybe I’m just getting old, but I found some of the humor here quite juvenile and unoriginal. For example, there’s a moment where Sonic farts and says “ I think that was the chili dogs,” and while the filmmakers were trying to acknowledge Sonic’s love for chili dogs from video games, it just came across as crass humor that made me groan. Another problem with the writing was the plot itself. It had man inconsistencies that did not make sense, but the movie expects you to go along with it. One thing I kept asking myself was “why doesn’t Sonic just go to San Francisco by himself since he’s extremely fast?” The film tries to explain this dilemma, but to me it came across as a weak explanation just so Sonic and Tom can go on a road trip, which has become a very cliché trope in your average family film.
Now that I covered what I didn’t like about Sonic the Hedgehog, I’m now going to tell you some positive things that I was able to find and some of them were quite a surprise. I already mentioned earlier about the visuals and how they made an improvement on them and it definitely shows. While I wasn’t crazy about the character of Sonic himself, the visuals and how he interacted with the real world was pretty entertaining to watch, especially during some of the action scenes and the climax. One character that I wasn’t sure I was going to like was Tom because in the trailer he didn’t give a great impression, but as the time went on he became more of a likable person. When Sonic was in danger from getting discovered from Dr. Robotnik, Tom did what any good-hearted cop would do and stood up against evil, even if it meant risking his life. It was a predictable scene, but it was still very entertaining.
If there’s one person that definitely steals Sonic the Hedgehog, it has to be Jim Carrey. People are either going to love or hate him by how he’s chewing up the scenery in this film, but to me I was enjoying every minute of it. One would say that it’s a guilty pleasure performance in film because he’s not subtle, and again I could see people despising it. The reason I enjoyed it, though, was that it was the crazy Jim Carrey persona that we haven’t seen in a long time (probably since The Grinch), and I was ready to enjoy every minute of it, for better or for worse.
Is Sonic the Hedgehog a good film? Not really. It is, however, far from the train wreck that I was expecting, and I was able to enjoy the little things that I noticed such as the visuals and some of the nods to the games. I will say, though, that if this film is successful, then it has great potential to be much better than this, which is something that I’ll anticipate due to the cliffhanger at the end. Hopefully it won’t get delayed.