You're not logged in! Sort it out. Sign In | Register | Lost Password?

Sonic the Hedgehog 2020 Movie Review

It is somewhat miraculous that almost 29 years into the franchise’s lifespan, a Sonic the Hedgehog movie is now making its way into theatres. No one will deny that Sonic’s heyday was during the early nineties where the franchise’s Mega Drive outings were basically untouchable, and yet here we are in 2020 with a movie adaptation that feels like it actually belongs in the here and now.

The Sonic the Hedgehog movie stars Ben Schwartz as the voice of Sonic the Hedgehog and Jim Carrey as Dr. Robotnik. The official Sonic canon has always played fast and loose with any semblance of plot, but the movie does a pretty good job of grounding Sonic in his new home on Earth. It establishes Sonic’s origins on a planet populated by anthropomorphic animals that is very reminiscent of Green Hill Zone from the original game. Sonic’s speed and power make him a prime target for a race of creatures (that we won’t spoil here) who want that power for themselves and Sonic’s guardian transports him to Earth so he can hide from those who would seek to capture him. It’s here where the majority of the film takes place.

Sonic lives in solitude underground in the forest, but as he reaches maturity he discovers a need for human interaction. Sonic desires friendship which leads to some soul searching. During a scene where he lets off some steam at a baseball field, he accidentally causes a giant, electromagnetic explosion which alerts the US government to his existence. It’s at this point that they deploy their top scientific mind to discover what caused the energy surge – the crazed, maniacal genius, Dr. Robotnik. Robotnik quickly gets onto Sonic’s trail and finds one of his quills which he then studies and uses to harness Sonic’s power to advance his drone army. Sonic himself quickly befriends a local police officer, Tom Wachowski (played by James Marsden) and it’s up to the two of them to get Sonic to safety and take down Robotnik in the process.

The movie leans heavily into Sonic’s nineties cartoon offerings for a lot of its humour. The film has a fast and goofy delivery of constant jokes that isn’t too dissimilar to Adventures of Sonic the Hedgehog and Robotnik’s drone army will be instantly recognisable to anyone who watched the Sonic the Hedgehog SatAM cartoon. The comedy is always at the forefront and while there’s some predictable and hammy dialogue from everyone, it’s delivered in earnest and makes it easy to connect with the characters.

Speaking of characters, every member of the cast does a fantastic job of keeping the action grounded and they’re all very likable. Ben Schwartz turns in a great performance as Sonic, accurately portraying his fun and childish antics whilst also being lovable and cute. He really plays up to Sonic’s speed and energy by delivering an equally frenetic performance.

The real star of the show is Jim Carrey who is perfectly cast as Dr. Robotnik. Once again drawing influence from Adventures of Sonic the Hedgehog, Carrey puts in a wild and manic performance that is thoroughly entertaining to watch and incredibly reminiscent of a lot of his previous nineties comedy offerings in movies like The Mask and Ace Ventura. Carrey absolutely chews the scenery of every scene he’s in and like the character’s appearance in the games and cartoons, the whole product benefits from his presence.

The movie does have some issues, though. It attempts to force a conflict between Sonic and Tom that feels unnatural and unnecessary. It feels like the producers demanded some additional form of tension between the two to disingenuously manufacture some character growth and it never feels convincing. Also, when Sonic finally comes to blows with Robotnik, he really doesn’t do a lot to get Robotnik away from a populated area, and trust me when I say that Robotnik deals some serious damage here. The overall effect is that Sonic comes across as stupid and egotistical in a moment where he’s supposed to look heroic.

The plot is also quite predictable and clichéd. It becomes pretty apparent early on how the events of the film are going to unfold, and while that’s fine for a bit of light-hearted family entertainment, some lifelong Sonic fans might feel a little hard done by. There’s a breezy quality to most of this movie and while it’s perfectly inoffensive, it means the stakes never feel particularly high. A little more substance and drama could have really elevated this from good to great.

Regardless, this is still a good film and in an age where video game adaptations are often terrible, a good Sonic the Hedgehog movie feels like a real achievement. This certainly won’t appeal to everyone and the lack of action on Sonic’s home planet is going to disappoint long term fans, but moving the action to Earth was not the terrible decision that some believed. Setting the film on Earth gives Robotnik’s human appearance in the franchise some believability and it’s his feud with Sonic that has always been the real heart of the franchise, and it’s given ample screen time here. The Sonic the Hedgehog movie creates some solid foundations for a sequel that I genuinely think it deserves because this is a thoroughly entertaining slice of action and comedy that hits the right notes and helps elevate the franchise.

Written by Lewis “Sonic Yoda” Clark 15/02/2020

SECOND OPINION

Who expected this to be decent, let alone good? After all the furore over that first trailer all that time ago, I never considered even for a second, that I’d then be leaving the cinema on opening day saying, “damn, that was a good movie”. Sonic is at its core a kids film, but it doesn’t stoop too far to the kind of immaturity I feared it would. There are moments where my old comic of Sonic bursting through the wall screaming, “TIME FOR TOILET HUMOUR” come to fruition, but they’re minimal. Schwartz, Carrey and (to my surprise) Marsden all turn in superb performances with a script that had me grinning at more than just the fan service.

It is worth mentioning that fan service though; I don’t want to go too far into specifics, but there are some outrageously deep cuts in here. There’s one particular example I noticed that even a Discord server full of Sonic die-hards didn’t clock until I brought it up. It’s all cleverly weaved into the new narrative built around this new Sonic, and doesn’t feel really blatant or shoved in your face. Even with the origins of this new Sonic being relatively removed from what we know of the video game hero, it didn’t feel distractingly off-balance for a Sonic feature and felt like there was some genuine love for the series from the visual department, well beyond just Tyson Hesse’s fantastic redesign of the hedgehog himself.

It’s not without flaws, mind – the first act of the movie is pretty sluggish, with the road trip feeling like a bland excuse to play on some live-action/animation hybrid clichés. Also, while Tom actually having his own character arc is appreciated and is mostly handled well, the conflict it causes with Sonic feels sudden and contrived. It was probably one of the few moments the characterisation missed a beat to me.

Really, pacing in general is kind of an odd point with this film. When the big action scenes were happening right towards the film’s climax, I felt like things were suddenly happening too quickly, as though the majority of the film had been the less interesting road-trip stuff to pad things out. The first act isn’t a train wreck, as it gives us plenty of great moments with Carrey and Sonic, but it’s nowhere near as strong as the second half. It just feels like it gets dwelled on for much longer. Even the bar scene, which is probably the most interesting part of the road trip sequence, felt like it went on just a bit too long.

Overall though, if you’re a Sonic fan you may have already made up your mind to go to this movie – and I’d say yeah, you should! While it’s got its fair share of issues, overall it manages to pull off one of the best adaptations of Sonic to this kind of media, despite taking so many liberties with the series’ premise. Compared to something like the atrocious Sonic X, the human co-stars here don’t strike me as detrimental – they work alongside the characters of Sonic and Eggman to better serve the film.

While I’d still pop the Japanese Sonic OVA on over this, the crew did a really admirable job salvaging a great time from what initially looked like an unavoidable disaster, and I’m extremely interested in what they’ve set up for a potential sequel, which looking at those box office figures it’s probably getting.

Written by Liam “Tracker” Ashcroft 15/02/2020

SEGADriven is proud affiliates with the following websites:

- Dreamcast Live
- Emerald Coast
- MegaDrive.me
- Project Phoenix Productions
- Radio SEGA
- Saturday Morning Sonic
- SEGA Retro
- Sonic HQ
- Sonic Paradise
- The Dreamcast Junkyard
- The Pal Mega-CD Library
- The Sonic Stadium
SEGADriven and its original content are copyrighted to their respective authors. Media related directly to SEGA is copyrighted to its respective authors. Any comments on SEGA-related materials do not represent SEGA themselves. All rights reserved 2008-2020.