The Sonic the Hedgehog movie franchise seemed doomed to fail at the very start. Video game movies still had the stigma of disaster on them and the earliest trailers show Sonic as some kind of lovecraftian monster. However after a large pushback and a lot of fixes and it was a fun if simple massive success. Even after the promising box office numbers it wasn’t a done deal that we’d get a sequel, but here we are. After teases and a no spoilers warning we have Sonic the Hedgehog 2.
It’s hard for me to not have bias going in because I’m a fan of the franchise. The first film (Also directed by Jeff Fowler) was a funny, cute kids adventure film with a sweet story. If you were a fan of that, you’ll be a fan of this as this is very much the first film, but more. The main problem of the film is that “more” means “long”. It’s over two hours of movie which after watching it, seems like a bit much. There’s a couple of scenes that could be cut or shortened without hurting the films best elements.
What’s new with Sonic the Hedgehog?
The film follows Sonic (Played well by Ben Schwartz) once again fighting Doctor Robotnik (Jim Carrey). To add a new twist both get new companions, Sonic gets Tails (Coleen O’Shaugnessy) and Robotnik gets Knuckles (Idris Elba). The new dynamics these characters bring are enjoyable. Tails is almost too adorable and Knuckles is both intimidating and surprisingly hilarious. Carrey and Schwartz mainly run back the feel from the first film. It is noticable that Carrey’s performance isn’t as tight here as it was in the first film. The comedy still works but the hits aren’t as frequent. What does work however is his pairing with Knuckles. The character animation and Elba’s serious delivery has him steal near every scene he’s in. His shtick is very much in the Drax mould, but it’s a funny style.
While the stuff taken from the games is an enjoyable romp, this film does remember that it is a sequel to that first movie. James Marsden and Tika Sumpter are back as the Wachowski’s and continue their plot with Sonic in what is the emotional core of the film. It surprisingly worked in the first film for me and here isn’t any different. The comedy from most of the human side characters is still good on the whole. Natasha Rothwell’s marriage sub-plot is a highlight of the film because of her performance. However the dedication to following on from the first film leads to issues.
Because everything in the first film has to have a moment here, while introducing several new elements, the result can be messy. There’s not a natural flow. Each sequence focuses on a specifc segment rather than everything meshing naturally. The gears grinding just a little as the film tries to balance the video game adventure with the more standard family film.
What’s a fans verdict?
As a life long Sonic fan, this is a 10/10 film. The references aren’t in your face and the jokes are cheeky without that feeling of being “better than this”. There’s a lot of love for the games present in both of these films. The films have also managed to find their own identity. This isn’t the Sonic the Hedgehog games directly adapted to the screen, it takes the effort to be its own thing while still recognisable. As a fan aimed project that’s something very difficult to do. In a world where backlash can rain down for even minor changes to a source material. I like these slightly new versions of the characters.
For the general public, especially families, I think that there’s still enough here to entertain. The action is fun, the characters enjoyable and the jokes land more often than they miss. However the running time may be an issue. I watched this in a theatre filled with families and there didn’t appear to be any issues with restless kids getting loud. There was even some emotional investment from kids who didn’t see some of the more tropey moments coming. The first film benefits from being tighter and more focused, while this film’s expansion certainly adds more stakes it comes at the cost of that tightness. This isn’t the end of the franchise though, a third film is already in the works. That’s promising more game elements to the franchise, I only hope that it doesn’t become even more stretched than this one can be.
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