Any publicity is good publicity. When it comes to Sonic The Hedgehog, the original nightmarish trailer launched last year, met with gasps and visibly wincing audiences at the state of Sonic’s mutilated disfigurement. Sensing a public backlash, Paramount delayed Sonic and got to work scrubbing up the animations to be more befitting to the blue speedster from the games. Racing back on screens this week, many people sensed a disastrous video game adaptation and a stitch-work of CGI that struggled to meet the original vision Sega had in the 90’s.
Thankfully, Sonic The Hedgehog defies expectations with a surprisingly lovable and heartwarming family flick. With a combination of jokes for both adults and kids, a simple but engaging story and some dazzling special effects, Sonic The Hedgehog is one of the biggest surprises this year and a competently made film worthy of the sequel it teases during its post-credits scene.
Before we get there though, the film itself begins with a brief introduction to Sonic himself, as a younger, more naive hedgehog as he races through loop de loops and finds himself saved from certain doom at the last second thanks to a bag of rings that transport him to the Planet Earth. Fast forward 10 years and in a sleepy town in Montana, we’re introduced to Tom Wackowski, a police officer with dreams to make it in the big time and become a cop in San Francisco. As fate would have it, he bites off more than he can chew when our lovable blue rogue wipes out power in the city during a self-reflective bout of sadness and with it, a nation-wide blackout thanks to an electrically charged pulse.
Stumped as to what’s caused this, the authorities turn to the maniacal ingenuity of Doctor Robotnik. From here, the story moves into a cat and mouse game as Sonic, along with the reluctant Tom, find themselves trying to evade the nefarious Doctor. All of this builds up to a bombastic, visually pleasing climax where the initial storyline is wrapped up but yet leaves plenty on the table for the inevitable sequel.
Visually, Sonic looks great. The blue zoom marks are very reminisce of CW’s The Flash while the slow-motion shots of Sonic zipping from scene to scene are a great nod toward X-Men: Days Of Future Past. These meta nods crop up right the way through the film too and work for both adults and kids alike. Although personally some of the more recent nods toward slang terms like “basic” may be lost on audiences years from now, the various movie and video game references work a real treat. Seeing Eggman’s physical transformation throughout the film is a wonderful nod toward the game and these little Easter Eggs really act as a nostalgic blast from the past. I won’t spoil them here but suffice to say they really add an extra shine to this title.
The two real stars of the show though are Ben Schwartz and Jim Carrey. Both of them bring a real energy and charisma to the film that help set this one apart. Sonic’s hyperactive charm and slapstick shenanigans counteract Carrey’s maniacal, exaggerated mannerisms and together, you really get a feel for that cat and mouse vibe the film is so obviously gunning for. In a way, this feels like classic Tom and Jerry which is precisely what the games managed to achieve so it’s good to see this translated to the big screen.
As a fan of the original games and as a parent myself, Sonic The Hedgehog scratches two itches simultaneously and does so with flair and enthusiasm. It offers parents who played the original games a nostalgic blast from the past, while kids will love the frenetic energy and bombastic action set pieces throughout the picture. While Tom and his partner’s story feel like window dressing and fail to ignite the same charm their roguish, video-game counterparts achieve, there’s enough here to make for a very enjoyable, solid family feature worth checking out.
With a sequel clearly on the way and a lot of marketing behind this one, Sonic The Hedgehog races into theaters this weekend and will clearly impress adults and kids alike. It’s not perfect, and the film does sag a little in the middle, but there’s certainly potential here for a decent string of films to follow. Let’s just hope Paramount actually do some test screenings before mutilating another beloved character in the trailer!