Sega’s Blue Blur has quickly found his way back onto the big screen. Doesn’t feel that long ago that the internet was in a frenzy over the original design of Sonic, and here we are now with a film that opens up the world of Sonic the Hedgehog. The film Sonic film to me felt very contained, which is understandable as they had the task of reintroducing Sonic to a young generation. But with the band now back together in the form of Tails and Knuckles, the task now is, considering that Sonic will be a film franchise, is to widen the world and get the audience interesting in what directions they’ll be taking in the future. I can’t say I’m curious about the next steps Sonic will take, but it takes a lot of effort to discover what to be excited about, because Sonic the Hedgehog 2 does not make it easy on itself.
What is easy is realising something that both Sonic and non-Sonic fans can all agree on, which is Jim Carrey again as Dr. Robotnik. He is once again, the best part of the film, not just on the nostalgic feeling of Carrey from the ’90s making a return, but the fact his performance feels valued by Carrey himself. When you have material as corny as Sonic the Hedgehog 2, many would wince at how inane is it, but Carrey embraces it with so much energy, it really is the only place we can see Jim Carrey at his most classic.
Spider-Man: No Way Home showed filmmakers that it is worth embracing every corner of a franchise in every form of media or cultural information. Sonic the Hedgehog 2 is also a champion of showing its own love for Sega’s flagship franchise. Director Jeff Fowler made his directorial debut with the first Sonic film, but that was not his first involvement with the blue hedgehog, working on the CG movie production for the 2005 video game Shadow the Hedgehog. It seemed at first an irresponsible move to give him the responsibility of bringing a video game icon to the cinema, but he has been able to get across his passion for Sonic and fans young and old will be able to appreciate that passion with subtle references to the fandom. This includes a reference to a meme in the opening scene that I was so happy to hear, that I could have thrown my hands up in celebration.
You can see additional evidence of this in the character of tails, to which the film has secured Colleen O’Shaughnessey, the voice actress for Tails since 2014. When you have someone on board like that who undoubtedly knows the character better than the director, you have complete faith that she can deliver to us an authentic Tales portrayal. Ben Swartz once again voices Sonic, but the most exciting casting is with Idris Elba as the voice of Knuckles. This is a big breath of fresh air for Idris I feel because his roles have been fairly limited to playing the badass, so even with the corny dialogue, it’s still fun to know it came out of Idris’ mouth.
The biggest criticism I had about the first Sonic is that it was too generic, so it was pretty disappointing to see that Sonic 2 hadn’t rectified this. I don’t mind the self-referential nature of the film, but I started to feel that some of them were just an excuse for cheap storytelling. There’s one moment in the film where they reference a scene is like Raiders of the Lost Ark, but then pretty much becomes Raiders of the Lost Ark. But that is the nature of the film so it isn’t a big gripe. What is more disappointing is the inclusion of too many pop culture references that the rest of the world has moved on from. Flossing seems like ages ago, but Dr. Robotnik still thinks it’s relevant. Countless times in films aimed toward children, the writers will often attempt to write like children like a parent trying to use kids’ slang and it’s painful to see them even attempt it.
There’s not just weak dialogue, but weak storytelling also making an appearance. Aside from Sonic’s adventure, which is, of course, the most interesting story to follow, you also have James Marsden and Tika Sumpter returning as Tom and Maddie who travel to Hawaii for Rachel (Natasha Rothwell), Maddie’s sister’s engagement to Randell (Shemar Moore). I’ll be honest, I completely forgot that Tom and Maddie were characters in the first Sonic film and they’re just as forgettable here. There is a method to having a side story in a film, the golden rule is to not have it be a distraction or break from the main story, Sonic 2 breaks this golden rule and you are left with a film that feels much longer than it is. The runtime is just over two hours, it felt as long as The Batman actually is.
I was expecting to criticise the weak dialogue and writing before I saw the film. Something I wasn’t expecting to be criticising though is just how bad the VFX can be at times. I’ve seen a lot of people praise the VFX in this film and it left me wondering whether I had just seen a poorer quality screening of the film because there are several moments where the difference between live-action footage and CGI elements were painfully obvious. It’s not exactly helped when you have digital characters holding digital objects.
Comparing this film to Sonic is a must so I’ll get it out of the way here, Sonic the Hedgehog 2 is better than its predecessor. I do honestly believe there is a place in cinema for Sonic, the potential for a great Sonic film may yet be realised now the series is opening the doors for more Sonic characters. Ultimately, the same criticisms I have for the first Sonic are the same with Sonic 2, If Jeff Fowler really loves this franchise and responsibility, then he has to know that this current path will close off. If nothing changes, the weight of consistent criticism is only going to get heavier and heavier until audiences are fed up.
Final Result: 4/10 – Below Average
Have you seen Sonic the Hedgehog 2? What did you think? Please let me know your thoughts and opinions in the comments below.
Next Time: Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore