WHAT IT'S ABOUT:
The world’s speediest hedgehog embraces his new home on Earth with his new best friend, Tom. Together they must defend the planet from the evil genius Dr. Robotnik and his plans for world domination.
WHAT WE THOUGHT:
The lead-up to the release of Sonic the Hedgehog was an interesting one - and one that has set a particular precedent in the movie industry. Initial designs of Sonic were universally hated, and objectively one really had to wonder about the person who signed off on the god-awful tiny-eyed hedgehog with human teeth that clearly spawned from your nightmares.
The studio surprisingly listened to fans, pushed back the release date and completely redesigned the blue fuzzball into something more recognisable, endearing and not something that might eat your mother. But regardless of this media frenzy (which might even have been on purpose according to some) expectations for a game movie is never high - despite the success of Detective Pikachu. And while critically, the Pokemon movie is way better, Sonic’s turn at on the big screen is fun, wacky and offers a simple, straightforward story that kids and fans will love.
Born with almost unlimited superpowers, Sonic has to hide his gifts in a small town on planet Earth - but when he’s discovered by an insane yet genius government official, he has to team up with the local sheriff to stay safe.
The most fascinating thing about the whole movie is Jim Carrey’s turn as Dr Robotnik. It’s been a long time since we saw his wacky antics in Hollywood, and I honestly can’t think of anyone else that could have played the mad videogame character without turning into a cringe watch. Again he proves why he’s the king of physical comedy, and his strange obsessive control over his character’s movements is incredibly calculated - just like Robotnik. He’s a purely evil villain with luckily no sad backstory that explains why he is the way he is - instead he’s just a mad genius that has no respect for other living things except for his machines, and that’s good.
As for the graphics, it was decent. Sonic, of course, doesn’t seamlessly blend into his real-world surroundings as he might have done with the previous version, but keeping the video game aesthetic makes it easier for the eye to digest and stays far away from the Uncanny Valley. There are a few standout scenes where you can see the passion of a VFX artist sculpted it, and the blue lighting scenes are jawdroppingly beautiful. James Marsden - who plays the cop pulled into Sonic’s life - was also great at interacting with what was probably a blue ball on a stick, and somehow managed to create chemistry with an imaginary character.
Voiced by Ben Schwartz, Sonic is a child lost in a universe with no one to turn to, exhibiting a youth-like wonder for humans and Earth. Marsden treats him like his age throughout, and this dynamic makes it a focused family film for all ages without trying to throw in thinly-disguised adult humour that will appeal to the more adult fanbase.
Sonic the Hedgehog had a really low bar set for itself from the beginning, and while it’s a lot better than anticipated, it didn’t exactly blow my mind - besides Carrey’s performance. Families will enjoy it, and fans will appreciate it, but outside of that audience, others will just see a mediocre game movie that will be completely forgettable. And judging by how well it’s doing, we’re definitely seeing the start of a Sega franchise.
WATCH THE TRAILER HERE:
Sonic the Hedgehog airs Sunday at 20:05 on M-Net (Dstv 101).