Sonic The Hedgehog (2020)
Directed by: Jeff Fowler
Written by: Josh Miller, Patrick Casey
Starring: Adam Pally, Ben Schwartz, James Marsden, Jim Carrey, Lee Majdoub, Natasha Rothwell, Neal McDonough, Tika Sumpter
If memory serves, this was delayed due to pandering to fans regarding the studios design of the titular character. After the disaster that was Rise of Skywalker, we all know what kind of drivel is churned out whenever film makers pander to people who have a paddy on the internet. However, the extremely low expectation of this film meant that it could have been a guy in a costume and it would still have had the same amount of hype surrounding it. To be honest, it’s surprising that this even exists. There have been more bad Sonic games than there haven’t. But it’s here and really, it ain’t all that bad. It’s by no means anything special, but judging it by the standards of other video game adaptations, it’s a step in the right direction. First things first, this is straight up a kids/family film, so if you are expecting a profound experience not containing any fart jokes, you’re going to be disappointed. Although, as is the trend these days, if you’ve seen one of the longer trailers, you’ve pretty much seen the film. The blue blur is in hiding on earth, and one day accidentally gets to go too fast, causing an electromagnetic shockwave taking out power to a large portion of north America. Enter government agent Dr. Robotnik and his army of drones, sent to investigate.
Jim Carrey couldn’t have been better cast as Robotnik. His flamboyant overacting is the perfect fit for such a pantomime villain, which makes it a shame that the character is somewhat under used. When he is on screen he’s as funny and stupid as Sonic’s nemesis has ever been, and you can tell Carrey just been given free reign to do what he does best in terms of his gurning and psychotic rants. James Marsden is pretty much on hand to deliver Sonic (Ben Schwartz) from point A to B and shoehorn in exposition, as well as having his own little story, but it’s kind of inconsequential. It felt a little odd seeing James Marsden in the sidekick role, but he really goes for it. He loved that sarcastic hedgehog. He seems to relish the fish out of water road trip that the two end up taking and the affection between the two characters really shows, also how seriously he takes the role. But after all is said and done, it’s a film about a blue hedgehog from another world that can run fast. It was difficult not to be self aware every time Marsden said ‘Sonic’ during moments of despair. It was unnatural and other worldly. It was something that felt uncomfortably displaced. But I’m sure the 8 year olds in the audience couldn’t care less and watching Sonic doing the floss next to a robot car he’s just destroyed was more than worth it. There’s a lot of moments that kept the little ones amused, including a kind of meta nod to The Flash in Justice League, employing the same slowed down time aspect, to show just how fast Sonic moves. As if time is stood still, but he’s moving freely, which actually works as a decent bit of foreshadowing, come to think of it.
If there’s one thing letting the side down, its lack of musical queues and references to the games. As lame as some of the Sonic games are, a lot of them have great soundtracks, in particular the 90s-tacular Sonic R, which is often in rotation on the HCF stereo (despite the protests of literally everyone else). The music in the film is fine, and we are treated to a couple of renditions of Green Hill Zone, but that aside, it’s a pretty standard film score. For those expecting an experience as radical and ‘tude filled as the character’s heyday, you may come out the other side feeling a little short changed. As a family film that weirdly has echoes of seminal Dolph Lundgren epic Masters of the Universe, as well as other low budget adaptations of popular children’s entertainment, you can do a lot worse than this safe, sometimes amusing family fun. In terms of the recent run of video game adaptations, although things used to be a lot worse, it seems they’ve finally managed to reach that low bar.