Film Review: “Sonic the Hedgehog”

A pretty good kids’ movie with high production value.

Sonic the Hedgehog made his video game debut on June 23, 1991, selling over 15 million copies. After Sonic’s debut in 1991, Sega Games Co. developed dozens of Sonic video games ranging from his traditional platform style to educational games. Eventually, several comics, novels, and even a TV show that ran from 1993 to 1994 were created to tell Sonic’s adventures. Sonic’s popularity then led to the creation of “Sonic the Hedgehog the Movie” in 1996. Sega had just found their flagship mascot, and Sonic became an icon of 90s video game culture. 

While I never got to experience the height of Sonic’s popularity, I got to experience part of it through my older cousin. We played the games and watched the movie together. Even with my exposure to Sonic from my cousin, I remained loyal to the Italian plumber, Mario. As I got older and focused my attention on other interests, I pushed Sonic nearly to the back of the memory. However, my memories of Sonic resurfaced upon hearing the announcement of “Sonic the Hedgehog,” a new Sonic movie directed by Jeff Fowler. However, Fowler announced that the movie’s original release date of Nov. 8, 2019, was moved to Feb. 14, 2020, due to the original design of Sonic being critiqued as being so disgusting with his appearance being too humanoid, having small, far apart eyes, small mouth with very human teeth, and human hands instead of his signature white gloves. With the Sonic design fixed and the movie now released, how was it?

The plot of the movie is really nothing new: An alien gets stuck on earth and a human companion must help him return to his home while also evading the government. In this film, Sonic (Ben Schwartz) lives in the fictional town of Greenhills, California, but then causes an electromagnetic pulse from running so fast. Now on the run from the government and Dr. Robotnik (Jim Carrey), he must use his golden rings to transport himself to a new world. However, he accidentally transports his rings to the top of the Transamerica Pyramid and now must team up with Tom Wachowski (James Marsden), a police officer in Greenhills who Sonic had previously been spying on, to retrieve them. Along the way, Sonic learns the meaning of friendship. 

In regards to the acting in the film, the most notable performance in this movie is Jim Carrey’s. While watching the movie, I could just see how much fun Carrey was having with the role. Everything about his Dr. Robotnik performance was so over the top and cartoony that I found it enjoyable. The only scene that Carrey’s character was probably too much was his character’s first scene where he keeps interrupting the soldier with pretentious remarks, it bordered the line of annoying for me. However, I understand that this scene is meant to be humorous for children, and is actually in line with the character Carrey portrays. Despite his first appearance, though, Carrey did a great job, staying true to the character throughout and giving it all his effort. While Carrey is arguably one of the best aspects of this film, the main appeal to this movie is in the action and humor. 

 A lot of the action scenes in this movie made me feel like I was a kid again. Seeing Sonic move at normal speed while the world around him moved slowly, similar to Quicksilver in “X-Men: Days of Future Past,” really put a smile on my face because just seeing Sonic walk around altering the motions and positions of people was so cool to see. The best instance of this was the scene atop the Transamerica Pyramid. Dr. Robotnik fired several missiles towards Sonic and Tom, so Sonic pushes Tom off the building, uses his speed to dodge and rearrange all the missiles, and saved Tom from falling to his death. Seeing all that play out in slow motion reminded me of how I would pretend to be in slow motion as a kid. Also, the scene of Dr. Robotnik chasing Sonic and Sonic using his rings to transport himself to various parts of the world was really fun to watch, seeing them run around and avoiding damage to international monuments like the Eiffel Tower and the Great Wall of China, and Sonic dodging projectiles in the Saharan Desert. Overall, the action scenes in this movie were entertaining and exciting to watch. 

Another aspect of this film I looked for was the humor, and some jokes hit while others fall a bit short. If Sonic’s design had not been changed, this movie would have not been funny at all. From the trailers with the original design, the joke of Sonic acting like a cat was more terrifying than funny, especially with how skinny his whole body and face were. Now with the new design, while this joke is not the best joke in the movie, it definitely lands better than it did before. The best jokes in the movie include the scene in which a turtle that Sonic took for a ride is just shaking with fear, and the town’s conspiracy theorist showing a drawing of “Sanic” — the meme of a poorly drawn Sonic — to the police. The only jokes that adults would probably not find hilarious are the fart jokes and Sonic flossing, but that is not that surprising considering this is a kid’s movie. I think what made good jokes like the turtle one land better and the farting one, was the jokes’ emphasis to take aspects of Sonic, his speed in this case, and amplify them, rather than just making Sonic do random things. Nonetheless, this movie has more jokes that land than not.  

Overall, this movie is not bad by any means, in fact, it was pretty good. This movie managed to keep almost everyone in the audience entertained the time I watched it. Taking everything into account, Sonic may be an okay movie, but it’s a pretty good kids’ movie. 

Verdict: C+

Release date: February 14, 2020

Director: Jeff Fowler 

Starring: Jim Carrey, James Marsden, Ben Schwartz  

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