Sega’s flagship character is on the big screen, albeit undergoing some reconstruction to get here. Long before we had the digital reconstruction of the monstrosity Cats, fans of the blue hedgehog had their own visual nightmare with the original, realist approach to the character’s appearance. When debutant director Jeff Fowler announce a speedy resign of the character, after the shock horror of course, I respected the filmmaker’s decision to do so. It showed that they cared about the legacy and image of Sega’s most profitable character. The respect for the brand shows in the film also, but no amount of digital redesign can undo a film that lacks quality.
We’ll get to our anthropomorphic little friend soon, but I like to first focus on the man with all the energy in the world. 90’s Jim Carrey is back! He’s back as the physical moving Dr. Robotnik (or Dr. Eggman to some). You think about eccentricity and Dr. Robotnik has always reveled in his ridiculousness and extravagance, with this in mind you start to realize there can be no-one else other than Carrey. I’ve missed how he can make you laugh simply through his snappy actions which come in bundles with this role so if this film can’t make you smile, Carrey surely can.
Sonic himself voiced by Ben Schwartz is quite surprising as the filmmakers have kept the voice and attitude of the classic Sonic, we all know brilliantly. His ultra-confidence and lax personality make him a resonating character to young audiences and fans with any length of devotion to the games, but mostly to young audiences. What’s more impressive is that he not overly confident to the point where you feel he’s turning arrogant, I admire the filmmakers for that because when you think about it Sonic is a character ripe for exploitation and they could have interpreted his personality wrongly making him annoying.
Films based on video games are a notable risky bet because of the number of times they have failed, since Detective Pikachu this bias had started to break because you had people who respected the franchise and understood it, this seems to be the case with Sonic the Hedgehog. While it’s no Detective Pikachu, it not Super Mario Bros either. The filmmakers here understand the fanbase and films like Sonic the Hedgehog, with a big fan following, are sometimes exploited so they can give the audience cheap satisfaction through Easter eggs and references to the franchise. However, the Easter eggs here aren’t used cheaply and incorporated into the story. For instance, the town the film is set in is called Green Hill and the character that goes by the name of Crazy Carl (because he’s the only one who believes Sonic exists at the start) uses the poorly drawn “Sanic” cartoon as a description.
But accurate characters and a good understanding of the franchise are but small pieces in a much bigger picture, you must compellingly include them and unfortunately, this is where Sonic misses the mark completely. The world is am important factor when it comes to making the complete picture and Detective Pikachu understood this. You have to balance what is fantasy and what is real to make a fictional world more believable. I can’t envision a realistic world where a blue speaking hedgehog wouldn’t go unnoticed, even if you dressed him in disguise (I can’t understand why films do this).
The story itself is nothing to gloat about, it’s bloated with old clichés and genericism, you could predict the events way before they happened. Some scenes aren’t even original, I think someone has been watching too much X: Men Days of Future Past because remember the Quicksilver scene where time seemingly stops with fitting music? Well, Sonic the Hedgehog has practically conducted its own rendition. Which begs the question why? Is there not a more original way to show Sonic’s speed?
There’s not too much urgency in the plot that makes you think the stakes are high. The narrative is that of a buddy road film, some settling into the film itself is appropriate, but at some point, you have to question if anything is happening at all.
There are quite a few places in the film where they will resort to product placement, which is something that I thought would have been frowned upon by now. There are many referrals to Olive Garden to the point where the dialogue is a literal advert. I frown every time I see some sort of product placement, once upon a time they used to be clever like in Wayne’s World or Back to the Future, but now it’s a last resort attempt to get that sweet revenue.
People had the worst assumptions about Sonic the Hedgehog, and some of those assumptions are justified, but in fairness, I don’t think anyone should be assuming the worst because while bad, it’s not as bad as some may think. From the likability of Sonic, the energetic tone and Jim Carrey giving 110% effort. However, the film is just too generic for my liking and it’s a shame because there are a lot of interesting things that can still be done with the character.
Final Result: 3/10 – Poor
Have you seen Sonic the Hedgehog? What did you think? Please let me know your thoughts and opinions in the comments below.
Next Time: The Call of the Wild