“Sonic the Hedgehog” is the feature-length debut of director Jeff Fowler and stars Ben Schwartz (DuckTales, Parks and Recreation), James Marsden (Westworld, X-Men), Jim Carrey (Batman Forever, Ace Ventura: Pet Detective), and Tika Sumpter (One Life to Live, Ride Along). This movie is based on the hit SEGA video game franchise of the same name, which has officially become one of the biggest titles in the industry. The film follows Sonic, who is sent to Earth from his home world, and eventually adapts to his current lifestyle. But when one thing leads to another, he needs to go to San Francisco all the while keeping the evil Dr. Robotnik from conquering the universe. So Sonic teams up with Tom Wachowski, AKA “Donut Lord,” in order to get to his destination.
I have never dove deep into the realm of “Sonic the Hedgehog.” I know about the games and its characters, but I have barely played them. Although, if “Super Smash Bros.” counts, I have played a lot of that. But I do know a bit about the film’s source material. Sonic is a witty, upbeat character that likes to go fast, because let’s face it. If he were slow, this movie might go on longer than “The Irishman.” But one I thing I think many people going into this movie knew about waaas…
This f*cking face right here graced the Internet with all the memes possible! People thought it looked creepy, revolting, and an insult to humanity! Now I’m going to be completely honest with you. I do not create content to please people, I create it to enforce my personal asshat opinions. Speaking of asshat opinions, I did not think the original design was all that bad. Now, is it great? Maybe not. But it’s not like it is the end of the world! The reality is that this is a live-action movie, and you have this cartoony character in the middle of all of it. There are a number of possibilities they could have gone with. Hell, I would have been fine if they went down the “Who Framed Roger Rabbit?” route and made Sonic 2D. Would it have been weird? Sure! But again, this is an over the top animated hedgehog! I will say when I saw the first trailer, I was not as skeptical about the film as most people. It’s just a design. There have been plenty of good movies with lackluster visual effects. Look at “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story,” they CGIed Tarkin’s face, and it was choppy at times, but it didn’t take me out of the movie. In fact that movie’s GREAT. And say what you want about removing Henry Cavill’s mustache in “Justice League,” I enjoyed the movie. I thought it was fun. It felt rushed, it sorta clashed in tones, but it was still a fun ride.
Now to be fair, it is refreshing to have a film’s crew and the parties alongside them to respond to the fan backlash, because let’s face it. Fans can be rowdy. And the newer design that unfortunately shut down the visual effects company who worked on it, paid off. For putting in the effort and doing whatever’s possible to make the best movie you can, thank you. Movies are hard to make, I get it.
To be honest though, this does bring up something very important. I saw the first trailer and ended up feeling somewhat confident that this movie COULD work. It had the essentials for a solid story of its kind. Then I saw the second trailer with the design. Sonic looked dope, but the movie itself looked like s*it. There’s a saying that looks aren’t everything, and that is the truth about the second “Sonic the Hedgehog” trailer. A lot of comedy gags looked cheesy and weird, Sonic almost sounded kind of annoying, and it kind of had a similar vibe to “The Smurfs.” I mean what do you expect when you have a blue, animated creature from the middle of nowhere transporting themselves to our planet, uniting with a newfound human acquaintance, and unraveling a plot that affects both sides?
Cannot believe I’m saying this. Sonic freaking rocks! In fact, DARE I SAY IT. I want a sequel! This is the best video game-based film I have seen to date. Granted, I am missing a couple core titles like “Mortal Kombat” and “Lara Croft: Tomb Raider,” but still, this is the best video game movie I have ever seen not counting specific partially unrelated titles like “Tron,” “Ready Player One,” or “Wreck-it Ralph,” a movie which Sonic actually happened to be in.
Is it the best movie I have ever seen? Absolutely not. It doesn’t even come close, but it has pretty much what it needs to fulfill the requirements of a film of its kind. This film is for kids, there is no hiding that. But the thing I noticed is that for the most part, it doesn’t feel like it is treating kids like morons. Granted, it is not Pixar quality, but it doesn’t spend every other minute trying to make Sonic fart in Dr. Robotnik’s face. This movie has some nice nods to Sonic’s power, specifically super speed. There’s an occurrence where Queen’s “Don’t Stop Me Now” is playing, Sonic has a comic book collection and pretty much every copy in said collection is from “The Flash,” and they even make a joke about “The Fast and the Furious.” More speed jokes, less fart jokes, I know I’m happy! My one complaint here though is that the baseball scene that is shown in the trailers is a little far-fetched, but it’s not a terrible scene, so I can kind of live with it.
Let’s be real, the Sonic character in this film is pretty much what I would want him to be. He is upbeat, he is lively, he is wild, he is fast, he is Sonic. Part of me thought that his constant hyperactivity would be a detractor of the film, and I will say that there are a couple moments where that does not help the product. There’s a moment in the trailer that is just as flat in the movie as it is there, specifically where Sonic and his newfound human acquaintance, Tom Wachowski, are passing by a sign that is advertising the world’s largest rubber band ball. It’s gags like that which don’t work. But the Sonic character is a ball of fun. He’s cute, but occasionally not cuddly. He’s almost one-dimensional, but one thing I will say about that is that the recent games from what I have seen, pretty much portray Sonic in a similar manner. He feels like a brother somebody has and they’re often annoyed by, but everyone else who knows the guy loves this brother. Sonic is my annoying brother, and I love him. Great job, Ben Schwartz!
Speaking of annoyance, Sonic is definitely annoying somebody, and that somebody is the recently mentioned Tom Wachowski who is wonderfully played by James Marsden. James Marsden is the main human character in the film, he is a cop in rural Montana, and the movie partially focuses on Wachowski’s acceptance to the police department in San Francisco, California. This partially plays into the hedgehog’s overall story, where they have to travel to San Francisco to avoid a deadly situation. The chemistry between the two here is surprisingly decent, I was never turned off. I also enjoyed his cop sideplot a little bit, but going back to unfunny jokes, there was one joke that I was able to predict pretty much what was happening right off the bat. Granted, if a kid sees it, it might be pretty funny, but not for me. I won’t go much into it, but it involves a tiny donut. Although, Tom Wachowski does earn a rather slick nickname from Sonic, specifically “Donut Lord.” Technically speaking that’s wrong, Homer Simpson is the REAL donut lord, but it is nevertheless a cool nickname.
But let’s talk about the best character in this movie, and I think a lot of people will agree with me on this, Jim Carrey as Dr. Robotnik. When I saw the first trailer for this film, Robotnik almost felt like a flat, beyond cartoony, madman. Having seen the film, just remove the word flat, and you get Robotnik. I watched that recently mentioned trailer thinking Robotnik could be the worst character in this movie, turns out he is probably one of the best villains I have seen in a film made for children and families! Seriously! Carrey’s portrayal is incredibly zany and electric! And this partially has to do with how well written Robotnik is. He has the stereotypical villain mindset where he thinks he is better than anybody else, but that’s what makes him so great. There’s a moment where he delivers a line to another character having to do with him being the smartest man in the world, therefore everybody else is stupid. It is one of the best executed villain lines I have ever seen! Robotnik is such a great over the top villain that he has a lightshow dance party in his lab as he does his evil deeds. There’s a screen that allows him to simulate getting his head chopped off by a dinosaur! It’s bonkers! This feels like something Robotnik would do every day after smoking a couple joints! Robotnik had the finest lines, he was in on the best jokes, and as of right now, I don’t know if anybody else could play him.
HOW AM I– WHAT IS HAPPENING?! This was supposed to suck!
Now, this movie is a surprise if there ever was one. It’s a video game movie, meaning that it is filed under a kind of movie that does not usually do well critically or financially. Time will tell how much of a financial success “Sonic the Hedgehog” will be, but I did not expect so much positivity with this film. It sort of reminds me of what people must have thought before seeing “The LEGO Movie.” But, I will admit, unlike “The LEGO Movie,” “Sonic” is not flawless.
I’m pretty sure some of you reading this know that one of the staples of filmmaking is product placement. Some movies like to fill themselves up to the brim with an effort to make commercials within the film. The “Transformers” movies are an obvious example. 2017’s “Power Rangers” wanted to remind its audience that when they think “Power Rangers,” they also think Krispy Kreme! You also have movies like “Uncle Drew” that is literally produced by Pepsi! Honestly, product placement is one of the most annoying necessities in a film. When it’s obvious, it is sometimes cringeworthy. When it’s bloated, it’s embarrassing. The reality is that I came to watch a movie, not a commercial. If I wanted commercials, I’d just watch the Super Bowl.
But hey! After watching “Sonic the Hedgehog,” why don’t you take your family to Olive Garden and get a taste of their neverending pasta bowl? IT NEVER ENDS! Maybe afterwards, you guys can look at houses on Zillow and never buy anything because your kids will miss their friends in school! Seriously! There’s like, two or three mentions of Olive Garden in this film at different times! And each time feels as commercialized as the next. I remember seeing “Blockers” a couple years ago where the main girls are making a sex pact and they reference Olive Garden, say what you want about that in terms of how obvious it is that such a mention is there to be product placement, it nevertheless feels more natural than what this movie provides!
Also, as well done as the movie is from a visual perspective, even if a little extra complaining was needed to put in more effort, there are a couple of scenes in the film where I am looking at the laser sensors from Robotnik’s minion machines where they did come off a little more cartoon-like than I would have preferred. It could have been worse, but still. There are also a couple of moments where the effects looked a little TOO GOOD, as if they were too clean and glossy. Maybe it’s just me, but a LITTLE grit could have gone a long way.
But this does not take away from “Sonic the Hedgehog’s” positives. It pays tribute to the games, while also realizing that in order to stand out, it needs to be its own thing. The performances are good and fit the characters well. Robotnik is one of the most well-written villains I have ever seen, at least in a movie for families. There is a chase towards the end that is up there with some of my favorites I have seen on screen. I am not going to go into much detail, but one more notion I want to provide about “Sonic the Hedgehog,” I THINK the writers behind “Sonic the Hedgehog” took a moment to make fun of alternate video icon, “Super Mario,” OR… THEY TEASED A VIDEO GAME CINEMATIC UNIVERSE. Overall, this kind of makes sense, Mario has crossed over with Sonic in the past, Nintendo has put Sonic in a number of games also featuring Mario characters like “Super Smash Brothers” and “Mario and Sonic at the Olympic Games.” Why not bring that crossover to the realm of film? As far as I know, that might not be happening because Universal and Illumination are seemingly working on an animated “Super Mario” film and that would probably interfere with “Sonic the Hedgehog’s” universe, because it is live-action. Plus, “Sonic the Hedgehog” is under the Paramount name, so the two characters are probably under exclusive maintenance from different studios. But, you never know! Disney owns Marvel and yet they’re letting Sony collaborate with them on “Spider-Man.” Plus, Universal also has the Hulk, and yet he’s been in several of Disney’s MCU films. Anything’s possible in the money-grabbing, magical, bonkers wonderland of Hollywood! Don’t take this as news, the movie has been out for two weeks and I am not confirming anything about this.
In the end, “Sonic the Hedgehog” is fast, vast, and an utter blast! This feels like a movie that if I were a kid, it would get me more into movies, potentially even into how they’re made. Maybe it would even get me into gaming a little bit more if I were not already into that. Then again, what young boy doesn’t like a good video game? Depending on how 2020 pans out, “Sonic the Hedgehog” is highly unlikely to reach the top 10 movies of the year for me, but for now, it is easily one I’d go back and watch. While this does not say much, “Sonic the Hedgehog” is the best video game movie I have seen in my life. The competition against it is not really that stiff, but it’s the truth! With that being said, I’m going to give “Sonic the Hedgehog” a 7/10!
Thanks for reading this review! My next review I am going to be doing is for the all-new film based on truTV’s biggest show currently on the air, “Impractical Jokers: The Movie.” I love the “Impractical Jokers” TV show, so naturally I just had to check this movie out and see what it is all about. Does the show translate well to film? You’ll find out in my review! I just want to take an opportunity to wish everyone who was born on Leap Year Day a very happy birthday! It must feel great next year, for those of you who have just turned 5, to finally drink at the legal age of 5 and a fourth! In other words, happy birthday on this rare occurrence of a day! Happy Leap Year! If you want to follow Scene Before and see more great content, do so using an email or WordPress account! If you want to go all the way and support Mark Zuckerberg’s mission for social media domination, check out my Facebook page and give it a like! I want to know, did you see “Sonic the Hedgehog?” What did you think about it? Or, have you played any “Sonic” games? What was that like for you? Let me know down below! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!