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Sonic the Hedgehog 2 – 2022 Movie Review

With the first Sonic the Hedgehog movie, Jeff Fowler and company managed to establish this cinematic version of the character in a more realistic scenario. It certainly contained a fair bit of Sonic franchise iconography, but it was a film that was considerably more grounded and may have left Sonic fans a little wanting. With the foundations now laid, Sonic the Hedgehog 2 fully leans into the more extravagant concepts of the games it is based on and delivers one of the best video game-to-movie adaptations there has ever been.

We kick things off where the last movie ended with Dr. Robotnik (Jim Carrey) being stranded on the mushroom planet, desperately trying to find a way back to Earth. Robotnik successfully creates a distress beacon which is answered by none other than Knuckles the Echidna (Idris Elba). Robotnik and Knuckles quickly form an alliance that benefits them both, with Robotnik just wanting to take revenge on Sonic (Ben Schwartz) and Knuckles wanting revenge for the death of his people at the hands of Sonic’s guardian Longclaw and her tribe, which was briefly touched upon at the start of the first film.

Also previously referenced in the first film is the appearance of Tails (Colleen O’Shaughnessey) who has been monitoring Sonic after his energy outburst on the baseball field. When Tails catches wind of Knuckles’ arrival on Earth, Tails rushes to Sonic’s aid and the two quickly form a friendship. It promptly becomes apparent that Knuckles is also hunting Sonic down because of his ties to Longclaw and her tribe. Longclaw has hidden the Master Emerald on Earth to stop the echidnas from using its awesome power. When Robotnik learns about the Master Emerald from Knuckles, he plots to take it for himself behind Knuckles’ back and the action unfolds from here.

The story and set pieces are instantly more recognisable as key Sonic the Hedgehog moments and this film truly excels at getting audiences accustomed to its more fantastical elements thanks to the groundwork laid by the original movie. It’s a much faster moving film as well, with significant plot points occurring in quick succession which keeps the action intense but not exhausting.

The human characters also have a lot more agency in this film, with Tom (James Marsden) and Maddie (Tika Sumpter) now acting as surrogate parents to Sonic, who have travelled to Hawaii for Rachel’s (Natasha Rothwell) marriage to new character Randall (Shemar Moore). All 4 characters get heavily involved with Sonic and Tails’ battle with Robotnik and Knuckles, and there’s some solid gags that help bolster the wedding scene so it isn’t just unrelated action taking us away from Sonic and the gang.

The comedy across the board has been ramped up to 11 with some seriously snappy dialogue courtesy of writers Pat Casey, Josh Miller and John Whittington. The jokes in Sonic 2 are so thick and fast, and they don’t suffer from a lot of tedious modern movie dialogue tropes, where punchlines are often devolved into flippant double-take moments like Rise of Skywalker’s infamous, “they fly now!? They fly now!” line. It’s honestly very refreshing to hear dialogue that was clearly constructed in a way to deliver satisfying pay-offs and there were a lot of laughs to be had.

The acting all around is equally excellent with Jim Carrey getting to go full unhinged, mad dictator; delivering a performance that really defies his age (Carrey is 60 years old!). However, it’s Idris Elba that becomes the breakout star of Sonic 2 with his portrayal of Knuckles being powerful, menacing and surprisingly funny. Knuckles gets to take part in some excellent comedy that compliments his character and doesn’t downplay his power like with some versions of the character.

The film is also a lot more visually interesting as Sonic hops around the world trying to locate the Master Emerald; taking him far outside of Green Hills and helping to aesthetically diversify the film. We also get to enjoy some absolutely jaw-dropping visual effects sequences that take full advantage of Sonic’s abilities and it’s here where we get some of the most fantastic realisations of Sonic iconography you could hope for as a Sonic fan. The snowboarding sequence and the battle with Robotnik’s giant mech are pure Sonic, and fans will adore seeing how well they’ve been realised here.

However, there are a few moments that will detract from the overall experience. The pop culture references are still rife in Sonic’s dialogue and they’ll likely become the part of the movie that will age the worst. Sonic’s child-like relationship with 2 adult human beings is still a little strange to become accustomed to, and some may find the wedding scene is too unrelated to Sonic’s story; becoming a distraction from the main plot.

Regardless, these are minor complaints that are so infrequent that the wider experience of Sonic 2 is largely more positive than negative. It’s a movie with real heart and love for its source material that can successfully entertain an adult audience while captivating a younger one. Sonic the Hedgehog 2 is a rarity in video game-to-movie adaptations and it deserves to be seen if only to see how successful Jeff Fowler has transferred so much seminal Sonic imagery to the big screen without it feeling forced or out of place.

Written by Lewis “Sonic Yoda” Clark 27/03/2022.

Thank you to SEGA Europe for providing entry to an advance screening. Sonic the Hedgehog 2 opens in UK cinemas on April 1st 2022.

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