- Directed by Jeff Fowler
- January 25, 2020 (Paramount Theatre) / February 14, 2020 (US) / June 26, 2020 (Japan)
A smalltown sheriff and an impossibly fast blue hedgehog must flee an evil genius that wants to experiment on that very hedgehog.
Sonic the Hedgehog is the rare video game to film adaption that really works. Aside from the Resident Evil films which were successful and entertaining (even if they were a guilty pleasure) I think this might be the only other one I can think of that was not only enjoyable for not only a one off watch but successive watches.
It’s also one of the few examples of a time in recent memory when a studio listened to the fans. They didn’t blame the fans for not liking the character design of Sonic. They heard their concerns and spent a good chunk more money as well as delaying the film to fix it. And the original design really was absolutely atrocious. I’m not heavily invested in Sonic the Hedgehog as a video game but what they wanted to do originally was just terrible.
Sonic the Hedgehog is funny. This is a comedy with jokes that work. Some will make you smile while others will make you laugh out loud. I know James Marsden more from the X-Men films than I do anything else, but he was quite good in this with great timing. I especially liked his character Tom’s bit about how his dentist calls him Tim when his name is really Tom and it’s gone on for so long that correcting him now would be awkward. That’s not the only joke but it was just funny as were many other moments.
His wife Maddie (Tika Sumpter) was okay. She didn’t get too many times to shine but her few shining moments were good. Her older sister Rachel (Natasha Rothwell) absolutely despises Tom and it’s played for laughs. And it’s funny. She has some great one liners directed at her Tom and vice versa.
But the real surprise was Jim Carrey as Robotnik. I haven’t seen him do anything as funny as this in quite some time. As Robotnik he just killed it. His Robotnik was a hilarious asshole. Carrey used everything that made him a great comedic actor in this performance.
Which brings me to something else. Even the minor characters are funny. Crazy Carl (Frank C. Turner) is the local guy that everybody dismisses that believes in the Blue Devil (Sonic). And then there’s Deputy Sheriff Wade Whipple (Adam Pally). He’s just an oddball who starts out a little jerky but just gets progressively dumber as the movie goes on. In a nod to the Sonic animated shows we have Garry “Robotnik” Chalk as the US Navy Chief of Staff. Commander Walters (Tom Butler) is funny and has a weird obsession with Olive Garden. That whole Olive Garden thing is funny and odd. One would think it’s some kind of example of corporate synergy but supposedly this was just something they decided to run with on their own. And it’s funny. This movie is just funny. I can’t say that often enough.
Sonic (Ben Schwartz) manages to be a character in his own right too. He feels guilty for not taking the threat (whatever exactly that is) seriously though I’m sure exactly why he needs to be hidden. It is not quite clear. He can run really fast but why does that make him somebody that needs protected from whoever those villains that chased him and put an arrow through his caretaker Longclaw (Donna Jay Fulks). I mean the whys of it all were not even hinted at. That element may be addressed in the games but is not in the narrative of the film. A weak point definitely.
They don’t skimp on the action. And it’s not just action for the sake of action but it’s action that at times mimics a video game because that’s what people pay to see. They paid to see the video game come to the big screen in a story and it comes off from the weapons to the action to the way Sonic moves as if you are watching the video game. Even Sonic’s homeworld in the beginning is ripped from the first video game. Sonic the Hedgehog has great jokes and script and superb direction. Toss in great action scenes and no wonder this movie is a winner.
Sonic the Hedgehog is a fantastic adaption of the game to the screen. It embraces its source material as well as tweaking it enough to be something substantive. If you haven’t seen this yet you need to check it out. You will not regret it!