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Sonic The Hedgehog film – Review

SEGAs iconic video game mascot hits the big screen after facing delays and redesigns last year. Thankfully, it’s not the train wreck many were expecting.

It’s finally here.

This time last year Paramount dropped its first trailers for what would soon become the infamous, nightmare inducing first Sonic design, which combined realistic animal proportions with cartoonish colours. It was terrifying, to say the very least.

It seems that top Paramount executives agreed with the barrage of criticism that ensued. The film was subsequently delayed and Sonic was given a makeover, much to the delight of basically everyone. After a year of speculation, anticipation, memes, and reworkings, Sonic has finally hit the big screen in time for Valentine’s Day – but is it any good?

You’ll be pleased to know that the Sonic The Hedgehog movie is not as big of a disaster as everybody assumed it would be. It won’t be winning any Oscars next year, nor will it be heralded as a classic piece of cinema, but it’s a fun, slightly ludicrous romp that most will find to be an enjoyable ride. It’s already broken records for the biggest opening of a video game movie too, so we should probably start preparing ourselves for a sequel.

A silly but fun family film

Now, before we get too deep into this film, let’s just get a couple things out of the way. This is by no means a flawless project. Its script is a little weak, quite a few of the jokes fall flat, and Sonic flosses. Twice. The entire prospect of a live action film based on a video game character who hasn’t really been that great since the 90s is ridiculous in itself, so it’s best to go into this movie with few expectations. This is no Citizen Kane.

But, to Paramount and SEGAs credit, Sonic The Hedgehog doesn’t pretend to be anything other than a family friendly thrill ride. Jim Carrey plays a fantastic, often hilarious Robotnik who has the most memorable lines of any character here. There’s a few genuinely laugh-out-loud scenes and Sonic is a chirpy presence that gives the film a satisfying energy. It’s feel good, silly, and all good fun.

The plot is a standard moustache-twirling villain affair with a buddy duo thrown in for good measure. Sonic must venture to San Francisco in order to pick up his discarded rings that allow him to teleport to different dimensions because, obviously. He lives alone and remains hidden from human beings until his emotions get the better of him and he causes a nationwide power outage. Various scenes unfold as Robotnik tries to track him down and…well, I’m sure you can guess the rest from there.

In terms of visuals, Sonic’s CGI design has gone from being the most disastrous aspect of the film to one of its biggest strengths, and you’ll often find yourself emotionally compelled by some of his scenes. This movie makes you feel things for a pretend blue cartoon hedgehog – an achievement if ever there was one. Plenty of fan service is hidden throughout and niche references are littered all over the place for eagle eyed viewers who actually remember Sonic’s first games from the early nineties.

Most of the film takes place in a rural American town, aptly named Green Hill, though we do get to see glimpses of other planets and creative environments that I’d love to see more of should a follow up ever materialise. Sonic’s friendship with Tom, a local police officer who he partners up with early on, winds up being a thoughtful pairing, one that helps to keep the film grounded amongst all of the chaos. Check out this clip below which demonstrates their buddy dynamic at its peak.

An extraordinary turnaround

The biggest achievement with this film has been the turnaround in public perception. While critics have given mixed reviews, fans and regular movie goers have been reacting positively and its big opening box office figures suggest that there’s an appetite for more. It’s a far cry from the initial impressions we all got this time a year ago, and I doubt even Paramount expected things to go as smoothly as they have over opening weekend.

There’s a case to be made for how far fans should tinker with projects, and to what extent directors should take on the feedback of audiences, but I think in this case it’s been an undeniably positive improvement over the initial vision. Fans have appreciated being listened to, and literally nobody is arguing that the original design was better than what we got in the final movie.

The bottom line is that if you’re a fan of Sonic, video games, or just family films in general, this one is worth your time. Jim Carrey brings a performance reminiscent of his Ace Ventura days, and though it can be a bit ham-fisted and cheesy in places, it still doesn’t detract from the overall experience. You’ll come away having smiled at least a few times, and that’s something, at the very least.

out of 5

Speeding past a potential train wreck

Sonic's 2020 movie outing is a fun, inoffensive time - though it won't be winning any Oscars next year.