TL;DR – Unfortunately this is a film that mostly falls flat in-between shout outs to Olive Garden.
Score – 3 out of 5 stars
Post-Credit Scene – There is a mid-credit scene
For a long time, there has been a drive to find a great adaptation of a video game, and on the whole, the best we have gotten is mediocre. Well, today we look at a film that is trying to break through that history and alas it does not quite get there even though it is clear that all the cast is giving their all.
So to set the scene, in a magical kingdom far away, there was a young blur bouncing across the green world with in-built loop-d-loops. His power is almost limitless, but that comes with danger and one day that danger comes home to roost. As they are attacked, Sonic’s (Ben Schwartz) adopted mother Longclaw (Donna Jay Fulks) helps him flee by giving him rings that allow him to jump from world to world keeping ahead of the kidnappers. Well, many years later, one of those jumps leads him landing on Earth where he watched the residents of Green Hills, Montana like the local sheriff Thomas Michael “Tom” Wachowski (James Marsden) go about their lives. All is good, until one day when he accidentally sets off an EMP, drawing danger in the form of Dr Robotnik (Jim Carrey) right to his door.
To be honest, this review is not going to be the most positive one out there, but that does not mean that there isn’t anything good going on here. To begin with, there were some moments and jokes that did actually land and give a good old chuckle. There is a moment right at the start with an ecstatic turtle that might be comedy gold, a gag around a chainsaw that was fantastic, and Jim Carrey getting to go full-Jim Carrey was a nice call back to the past, well for a little while at least.
Alas, while there is a lot going on in the film that good, or at least okay, there is quite a lot that unfortunately falls flat. The first place we see that is in the animation of Sonic. A lot of the time he is fine, but there were several moments throughout the film where it felt like he was not integrated into the film. I think the main issue is the lighting that made him stand out apart from the background like they didn’t have enough time to do the final lighting pas, which is likely what happened. While you try to go into films with as few preconceptions as possible, it is hard to do that With Sonic given how public the stuff up in design and reworking was. I honestly really feel for the visual effects artists who got lumped with a bad decision and when that bad decision blew up in the executives faces it was them who had to work crunch to fix the problem. Given the workers at the studio that did the crunch were then laid off just before Christmas, well, unfortunately, that can’t help but put a bad taste in your mouth.
Nothing was surprising in this film because it felt less like a new narrative and more like a composite film where they have taken chunks that people like from different films and smashed it all together. People liked those slow-motion scenes in the X-Men films so let us smash a couple of them in here. People like buddy road trip films, people like mid-19190s Jim Carrey, and on and on. What this means is that we get a film that does not have its own identity as it lurches from plot point to plot point in-between clumsily integrated product placement.
This is all a real pity because there is so much talent on show here and it feels like they cast this film to be much more interesting than it turned out to be. While Jim Carrey is allowed to go bananas, which is delightful especially when he is riffing with his assistant Agent Stone (Lee Majdoub). Everyone else is really restrained which is a real shame. It would have been fine to have James Marsden play the straight man to Ben Schwartz’s more hyperactive Sonic, but it feels like they have pulled Sonic back from as far as Ben could have gone. We also see this in some of the smaller characters, like this is the most restrained I have ever seen Adam Pally in a role before. This and the story problems lead to issues like Maddie’s (Tika Sumpter) sister Rachel (Natasha Rothwell) hating Tom for no apparent reason other than so they can add some more humour by playing off the angry black woman trope. It also means that in other parts of the film, instead of going to 11 we land at a 7 and call it a day.
In the end, do we recommend Sonic the Hedgehog? Well … yes and no. It is not a bad film by any stretch of the imagination it is just a disappointing one. If you go see it, you will likely be sort of entertained for an hour or so but then I doubt you will remember much of the film a day later. Very little of this film, bar maybe Jim Carrey, is memorable in any shape or form. All of this has me feeling like this is a real shame because you can see the cast is really going for it, it is just not landing. If you like video games and you do want to see a video adaption that works I would recommend Detective Pikachu.
By Brian MacNamara: You can follow Brian on Twitter Here, when he’s not chatting about Movies and TV, he’ll be talking about International Relations, or the Solar System.
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Credits – All images were created by the cast, crew, and production companies of Sonic the Hedgehog
Directed by – Jeff Fowler
Written by – Pat Casey & Josh Miller
Based on – Sonic the Hedgehog by Sega
Music by – Tom Holkenborg
Cinematography by – Stephen F. Windon
Edited by – Stacey Schroeder & Debra Neil-Fisher
Production/Distribution Companies – Sega Sammy Group, Original Film, Marza Animation Planet, Blur Studio & Paramount Pictures
Starring – Ben Schwartz, James Marsden, Jim Carrey, Tika Sumpter, Lee Majdoub, Natasha Rothwell, Adam Pally, Neal McDonough, Frank C. Turner, Colleen Villard, Benjamin L. Valic & Donna Jay Fulks
Rating – Australia: PG; Canada: PG; Germany: 6; New Zealand: PG; United Kingdom: U; United States: PG