It wasn’t so long ago that the pop culture fandom was shocked to its core by Sonic’s human teeth and white hands. Fortunately, after a much-needed makeover, Sonic the Hedgehog is a better-than-expected video game adaptation that offers enough fun for families to enjoy. Flaws aside, the Sonic live-action film is packed with 90s nostalgia to make even the most cynical moviegoer remember a time when Jim Carrey and SEGA were at the top of their game.
Sonic the Hedgehog is a live-action adventure comedy based on the global blockbuster video game franchise from SEGA that centers on the infamously brash bright blue hedgehog. The film follows the adventures of Sonic (Ben Schwartz) as he navigates the complexities of life on Earth with his newfound best friend Tom Wachowski (James Marsden). Sonic and Tom join forces to try and stop the villainous Dr. Robotnik (Jim Carrey) from capturing Sonic and using his immense powers for world domination.
With video game adaptations, it’s always hard to place expectations as to how they’d turn out. With Sonic the Hedgehog, Paramount deserves praise for going all out with its redesign for the iconic video game character. With the film enjoying commendable box office success, it’s hard not to ponder whether the film would be received differently if it were to retain the character’s original design as seen in the first trailer. Hopefully, the commercial success of Sonic the Hedgehog serves as a testament to other film studios that sometimes, the fans are right.
Ben Schwartz does a great job in portraying the famous hedgehog. On top of that, the chemistry shared between Sonic and Marsden’s Tom elevates the film as it often finds itself being dragged down by odd pacing and excessive attempts at humour. As for Carrey’s take as Dr. Robotnik, let’s just say that the famed comedian’s performance is injected with the type of manic energy that catapulted him to superstardom in the 1990s.
However, though well-acted, Sonic the Hedgehog could be at times infuriating to digest as every single character acts like a cartoon. While many would argue that Sonic the Hegehog is a film designed for kids (It is), we have seen many children films offer moments of layers and gravitas, such as last year’s Toy Story 4. Sonic the Hedgehog aims high with flashy visuals, children humor and even fart jokes, but it’s truly Jim Carrey’s insanely charismatic performance that prevented the film from sinking into mediocrity.
The film’s biggest downfall is undoubtedly its reluctance to do anything fresh, original or exciting with the beloved property. With many of its scenes being highly reminiscent of the Quicksilver sequence in X-Men: Days of Future Past, one would not be blamed for thinking that the filmmakers were putting the X-Men film on repeat before going into production. Which is highly frustrating considering the Sonic character’s huge impact and legacy in the history of video games.
With that being said, the film never lost sight of paying respect and adoration toward the iconic video game series, which is something that could rarely be said about most video game adaptations. Like last year’s Detective Pikachu, Sonic the Hedgehog succeeds in setting up a potential franchise to explore. Despite its flaws, the film deserves praise in taking its time with thorough worldbuilding and proper characterisation, something that is often overlooked with major film franchises in recent years (Looking at you, Godzilla: King of the Monsters).