It's finally here. Our blue boy's first movie is finally out after a horrible first trailer caused massive controversy and a historic delay to redesign the main character. Video game films are notorious for being pretty terrible, but recently we've been getting more and more enjoyable ones. Besides Detective Pikachu from last year, we also had Rampage which was mildly fun and Tomb Raider which was pretty faithful to the source and a decent adventure film as well. Does Sonic get the same faithful treatment, or was that first trailer a taste of what's to come? Well, I'm happy to say that if you're a fan of the blue blur, then you'll be very happy with the final product as it's a fun and very faithful adaptation.
You can really tell that first time director Jeff Fowler loves the character of Sonic. The film, while certainly not perfect, is a blast to watch as a fan of the games because of accuracy to the source, the amount of time we get to know the characters and grow to like them, and the little easter eggs and references that are peppered throughout the runtime. Major kudos to Fowler for being able to balance the fun family hijinks and heartfelt moments with the nicely done homages to the games of the past. Great work!
It's fun to spend time with Sonic and his human friend Tom (aka Donut Lord) and watch their bond grow over the course of the runtime. It's surprisingly well done for a movie like this, and you believe the friendship that grows over the short time they spend together. And of course, it's always a blast to watch Jim Carrey ham it up as villain Robotnik (aka Eggman), and it's a real joy to see him harken back to some of his classic roles with this performance. It's a road trip action/adventure comedy with everything you'd expect from one of those. There's even the biker bar scene that feels straight out of the '80s. In all honesty, this doesn't bother me because some of the Sonic games had extremely ludicrous and almost incoherent stories, so I'll take simple over ridiculous for a movie like this any day.
ACTING | CHARACTERS | DIALOGUE:
Even in the first trailer for the film, I thought Ben Schwartz (Ducktales) was perfect as Sonic. He's got the right attitude in his voice for the character, and he does a terrific job in the film as the voice and facial mocap for the blue blur. What really surprised me was the amount of emotion that was put into the character. You feel bad for Sonic right in the beginning and you feel even worse later on when you realize he's all alone in the world. Schwartz sells this pretty well, and I honestly thought he was great. James Marsden is also great as Tom, the human companion, that helps Sonic get to where he needs to go. I always liked Marsden, but a lot of the time he's very underused and I figured that would be the case here as well, but he has a solid arc that has a fine conclusion and the relationship between Sonic and him is the real heart of the film.
As I said, it's always a blast to watch Jim Carrey in a role like this, but it also surprised me to see the small instances where Carrey actually portrayed Robotnik as the Robotnik from the games. The things he says, the way he speaks, and little mannerisms actually made him feel like Eggman more so than just Carrey playing a guy named Eggman. I was honestly surprised by that.
Surprisingly, the acting was solid with my only complaint being the lack of strong side characters. Tika Sumpter plays Tom's wife and is very underutilized, which is a shame because I liked her in the movie, but my major complaint lies on the side characters that were meant to be funny. Sadly, I didn't find most of them to be funny besides for a couple of chuckles. They took me out of the movie more so than not, which was a shame. No one's bad or anything, just not all that funny.
VISUAL EFFECTS | MAKEUP | DESIGN:
MUSIC | SCORE | SOUND DESIGN:
Sonic has always had a fair share of memorable music throughout the many games in the series, and that's not stopping with the film adaptation. While nothing in the soundtrack is quite on the levels of something like "Escape from the City'' or the theme song from "Sonic Heroes," there's still some very good score that both pays homage to some of the original music and acts as a great score for a fun family film. Also, the Wiz Khalifa song "Speed Me Up" made for the film is a solid addition to the Sonic library, and I'm not even a fan of Khalifa personally.
The original design for Sonic was terrible. I feel the need to talk about how wrong it looked. Luckily, the Sonic we did end up with is a faithful and very appealing one that is both adorable and terrifically animated. If the original design was still in the film then those two features would be monstrous and poorly animated and the character's arc and likability would've suffered immensely. It would've really taken me out of the film looking at Sonic's human teeth and poorly animated "fur" covering his weirdly humanoid body. The new Sonic looks great and moves through the environment and interacts with the human characters in a realistic enough way. He's still cartoony looking so they didn't go the Detective Pikachu route, but at least it's not horrible like those stupid Chipmunk movies were. I also loved the look of the action scenes, especially the moments where Sonic is going lightning fast running through cities or even ripping off Quicksilver from Days of Future Past. It all looks great. Stellar work!
"The World's Largest Rubber Band Ball?"
Genre: Comedy. Action. Adventure.
Sonic the Hedgehog is much better than it has any right being, but that's what happens when you have people making something they actually care about. It's my personal favorite video game movie adaptation because of how faithful it is to the source, yet doesn't sacrifice telling its own story and creating its own characters as well. It successfully brings everyone's favorite blue mascot to the big screen, and it also successfully managed to leave me both happy and amused. That's all I can ask for in a movie about a blue alien Hedgehog going up against a mustachioed Jim Carrey.