I just watched Sonic the Hedgehog after a year of the build-up to watch the film due to the bizarrely made teaser trailer. The film is animated very well and the story is pretty good for an all viewing audience. The film is in short a fish out of water story and a cross-country tale.
In my opinion, I think the first teaser trailer was a test trailer to see if the character animation was on the right track before people made harsh conclusions about the film. The trailer looks like it was made for the people who saw the poster stills of the film and had some harsh conclusions about the film when it was in early development. I made this conclusion based on how long it would take to animate a character in an environment and all the special effects that have to be linked to the character and how people reacted to the weird humanoid muscular legs that Sonic had in some teaser posters on Twitter two years ago. Very risky artistically and bold in marketing. The film should have added in the movie was the iconic electronic voice saying SEGA before seeing Sonic.
Sonic is the main character as a funny and hyper blue hedgehog. He was voiced by Ben Schwartz who does a good job at nailing the character in the first film. He talks almost like a sportscaster or host to a non-existent game show. It was a good choice that when I watch the November 2019 trailer with the weird animation, the character acting of Sonic that was featured in the film was always apparent. Sonic was very accurate from his SEGA Dreamcast days and the short-lived animation series has a cocky but not obnoxious fast-talking speedster. But there are some changes to the character for the film like how Sonic sometimes talks to himself after crash landing on Earth years ago. The character design is different and more accurate to what the character looked like in the early 90’s video games. The almost one-eyed, vibrant blue hedgehog with blue quills that tend to fall off. When Sonic runs there are “blue blurs” and if he’s powered up blue electricity on him. It didn’t seem like all of the lightning was parented by one stroke. There’s even a short origin story where Sonic got his shoes, weird but okay for the film to include.
The film starts off in Sonic’s world with Sonic running on the looping hedges. It looks like the opening level of the 1992 video game. After a bad confrontation with some unexplained bad guys, Sonic is thrust into the Earthworld. He escapes to Earth in a small Montana city of Green Valley (name of the first level of the game.) After years of isolation getting to him, he runs around in a circle at a baseball diamond which caused a massive power shortage. The power outage looked suspicious to the government which makes them want to investigate the problem but everyone they would usually send are busy with other pressing matters. This makes them decide to send in the mad doctor, Dr. Robotnik, to investigate.
The world-building they did in the film used a lot of material from the video games effectively. There’s a lot of Easter eggs inside the film of things that were once inside the video game. The most effective item from the video game they used in the film were the rings Sonic uses to get more powerful, transport to different locations and sometimes re-power himself. The animation they use to show the different worlds on the other side was well animated.
Since this was a buddy-cop movie, the cop in this film was played by James Marsden as Tom the “Donut Lord.” He is a Sheriff in a small town who wants action and adventure in his career and was contemplating moving to the larger city of San Francisco for the next chapter in his life. He is the “straight man” act in the wacky antics of Sonic. But the story doesn’t switch to him for too long to learn more about his wife who’s a veterinarian, aunt and yoga enthusiast. It’s mostly about the road trip to San Francisco to retrieve Sonic’s misplaced bag of rings.
The villain is the mad doctor, Dr. Robotnik, just like in the video game. The difference between the video game character and the film character might be bodyweight. Jim Carrey didn’t wear a fat suit so I guess it’s in the sequel. He’s very animated, zany and sassy to the other characters in response and demeanour. He’s funny in an Ace Ventura kind of way being offbeat but can follow the method to his madness. The difference between Sonic and Dr. Robotnik in the film is their choice of solitude. Sonic hates being alone all the time but Dr. Robotnik likes it because he hates people. He prefers to hang out with the robots he built for himself.
The special effects are well animated. The robotic drones looked realistic even down to the lasers. There’s one scene in the film that shows what Sonic is viewing when in warp speed with everything looking like it’s frozen but slowly moving in little increments. It shows Sonic moving somethings to cause an effect in the environment. It was well executed.
Comedy-wise, it’s real funny. The one-liners and setups are good comic punchlines. The many slow-motion running scenes are hilarious. The humour doesn’t rely on pop culture references but the situations the characters are in. This works better for a film like this because if it was filled with only pop-culture jokes it would be obnoxious but hard to follow years after the references become stale.
Fans of the video game would like this film instantly. But action-adventure and comedy lovers would find it enjoyable too. The film story is fairly simple but it’s the characters of the story that make it fun to watch.
Duration: 100 minutes
Three and a half out of five stars