The “Sonic the Hedgehog” movie is one of the rarest and most bizarre experiments in the history of Hollywood. While it wasn’t the first film to receive universal backlash after its first trailer dropped, one of the biggest examples of that being the all-female “Ghostbusters” remake, I’ve never seen a studio so quick to apologize for such a bad representation of a beloved character and actively work to remake the movie so that the character actually looks like how they’re supposed to…until “Sonic” came along. We never got that kind of apology with “Ghostbusters” or the 1998 American “Godzilla.” I can only guess that Sega decided to redo all of the effects shots of Sonic because it would be the final nail in the coffin to the decline of Sonic’s reputation, ruining him forever.
Regardless, if you haven’t seen what Sonic was originally supposed to look like in this movie, you’re doing yourself a favor. I can’t imagine this movie Sonic looking like a beady-eyed reject from “Cats” with teeth and weird hands and feet. He looked like a gremlin that’ll steal all of your possessions before you even see him, which would have ruined the movie. If Sonic’s design had been unchanged, this movie would be terrible – a main character that is unpleasant to look at and would only get worse as he ran around. If we hadn’t complained about how terrible the design was, this movie would be irredeemable.
With the redesign though, “Sonic the Hedgehog” is a serviceable kids movie. Sonic and James Marsden’s characters are likable and have good chemistry together, Ben Schwartz perfectly captures the manic energy of Sonic as well as his love of life, the running effect for Sonic and slow motion is put to good use, the comedy hits many of the right notes it needs to, and it has a good moral about the importance of making connections with people. I do want to stress that this is still a kids movie though, since the characterization is shallow and expected, much in the same vein as an episode of “Power Rangers” or “Kim Possible.” Plus, Sonic does the “Fortnite” floss dance. Twice.
But if there’s any reason to see this movie, besides seeing the marked improvement over the old effects, is because of Jim Carrey, playing the evil Dr. Robotnik. Carrey steals the show in every scene he’s in, capturing the same crazy insanity that made him famous in the first place in movies like “Ace Ventura” and “The Mask.” Imagine if all of Carrey’s characters from his movies in the 1990s merged together and decided to be a super villain. A character so full of himself and his greatness that he delights in proving how everyone else is dumber than him, despite throwing temper tantrums like a five-year old. Little moments like him taking command from a general by talking over him any time he speaks up to the way he treats his minion like one his malfunctioning machines that he doesn’t know how to fix are the things I’ll remember the most about this movie.
Overall, “Sonic the Hedgehog” knows exactly what it wants to be – a cartoonish, kid-friendly adventure that captures the crazy energy of a blue alien that can run really fast being chased by Jim Carrey. And while this wouldn’t have been successful in the slightest if the effects weren’t updated, the film does everything adequately, if rather simply. For a kids film adapting a video game character, that’s all we can ever ask for.
Final Grade: B-