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‘Sonic the Hedgehog’ (review)

Produced by Neal H. Moritz,
Toby Ascher, Toru Nakahara, Takeshi Ito

Written by Pat Casey, Josh Miller
Based on Sonic the Hedgehog by Sega
Directed by Jeff Fowler
Starring James Marsden, Ben Schwartz,
Tika Sumpter, Jim Carrey

 

Before the trailer for Cats went viral and violated eyeballs across the globe with its hellish humanoid cat demons, the greatest digital effects abomination in recent memory had been the first trailer for Sonic the Hedgehog’s first big screen outing. With the horrifyingly illogical choice to attempt to make Sonic’s features and proportions more human, this nightmare fuel was met with a severe backlash, which resulted in Paramount postponing the release of the film in order to redo the character design.

However, while the re-design of the blue hedgehog was decidedly more palatable than the lambasted previous version, the question remained if the film itself would actually be any good.

Historically, live action adaptations of video games rarely fare well, and while Sonic the Hedgehog turns out to be on the better end of that spectrum, that is not necessarily saying much.

The elephant in the room is undoubtedly if Paramount has managed to successfully pull off the re-design of the blue speedster so late in the production process, and they thankfully have. At no point does the character design look unfinished or rushed – *cough* Cats *cough* – so listening to people on the internet was, for once, a great idea.

Additionally, Ben Schwartz brings a light and likable energy to his performance that encapsulates enough of Sonic’s personality to satisfy fans as well as easily entertain those who are being introduced to the Blue Blur.

The true star, however, is undoubtedly Jim Carrey as Dr. Robotnik.

Clearly relishing the unlimited ludicrousness embodying such an over-the-top character allows, Carrey appropriately mugs, screams and flails his way through the film. Evoking a sense of nostalgia that serves as a reminder of his extremely animated earlier performances such as Ace Ventura: Pet Detective, Stanley Ipkiss’ alter ego in The Mask and, particularly, The Riddler from Batman Forever, Carrey easily steals every scene he is in, and the film is decidedly better off for having him in it.

However, aside from Carrey’s fittingly unhinged Dr. Robotnik and the nostalgic and child-friendly playfulness of Sonic, the film is violently derivative, the surrounding film being decidedly cliched and banal and therefore feeling much too much like so many other family films before it. That being said, the very low marks some reviewers have given the film are undoubtedly down to those who have thoroughly dissected Sonic the Hedgehog and scrutinized it well beyond what a film such as this can reasonably withstand.

The obvious film to compare Sonic the Hedgehog to is undoubtedly Detective Pikachu.

With the Sonic and Pokémon franchises both appealing to children of all ages and having brightly colored, cute creatures at the forefront, there are many common denominators, but Detective Pikachu arguably has the upper hand. This is not only in terms of which franchise has the best executed character design, but also with how well the humor works.

Where Ryan Reynolds’ performance as the eponymous Pokémon icon frequently elevated the comedy of Detective Pikachu from overwhelmingly pedestrian to sincere hilarity that helped the Pokemon feature sustain its appeal for the majority of its runtime, the plot of the Nintendo caper was nonetheless unexceptional.

Similarly, this feature film about Sega’s racing rodent has enough amusing scenarios to be sufficiently entertaining for its target audience of kids and geeks, but the plot of Sonic the Hedgehog ultimately leaves a lot to be desired.

While decidedly disposable in a purely cinematic sense, the fact that Paramount took the justifiably harsh response to the first trailer to heart and managed to deliver a satisfying character design is a testament to the amount of care that has, after all, been taken in bringing Sonic to the big screen.

As such, as long as your expectations are proportionate to what should be expected from a cookie cutter family feature such as Sonic the Hedgehog, you will like have a good with this decent, of forgettable, video game adaptation.

Verdict: 6 out of 10

 

 

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