There’s something to be said about the Sonic movie even existing at all. That now infamous original trailer that featured that rather indescribably terrifying design of our favourite blue hedgehog – a trailer that can no longer be watched on YouTube through the official channels – could have nearly been enough to pull the plug altogether. The film was resoundingly written off before anyone even had the chance to buy a ticket and yet, here I am. Writing the review of a film I’ve waited over thirty years to see. You’ve gotta hand it to Paramount. They really turned this ship around.
There’s a chance you may have already scrolled right to the bottom of this review and already taken a peek at the score, that of which I think is the most fair way for me accurately describe my experience with Sonic The Hedgehog. As a lifelong fan of Sonic it would have been far too easy for me to come out of the film touting it as the best film of the year purely because my boi is finally on the big screen. Getting sucked into the hype and falling in love with the concept over the execution is a net that fans can fall into far too easily. This film being real is enough reason for some to celebrate and forgive its misgivings. I’m almost grateful I’ve had to wait until I’m in my 30’s to see a Sonic film. I could have so easily fallen into that trap.
Sonic The Hedgehog’s opening half an hour is a real mixed bag. From the very beginning – Paramount’s Sonic ring logo, the beautiful SEGA games montage – being a fan you know you’re in for a good time. It stumbles through the set up, feeling almost dull until the major players finally come into contact. Some nice fan service in fleeting moments props up the opening but we all know what we’re here for, and it ironically takes an agonisingly long time for this film to take off. But when it does, it flies.
Full credit must be given to Ben Schwartz for bringing this youthful, energetic and teenage Sonic to life in the best way. There’s no denying he wouldn’t have been my first choice – sorry Ben, my heart remains with Mr. Craig Smith – but his boundless enthusiasm for the character is immediately apparent and he elevates the films slower moments with a performance that hopefully we’ll get to hear more of in the future. His chemistry with James Marsden bounces off the screen, and they’re a duo you’re happy to go on this ride with.
Speaking of Marsden, he’s a fantastic choice as the central ‘live-action’ lead. Sonic has never been a character that the general pop culture populus has taken particularly seriously and his performance is one that’s fully aware he’s in a Sonic The Hedgehog movie. He reacts to Sonic’s puppy-like exuburance with aplomb, and is a real asset to the film, giving Sonic an entertaining buddy when he desperately needs one.
And then there’s Jim Carrey. Going full, no-holds-barred, the Jim Carrey I remember as a kid Jim Carrey. Plenty has already been written about the fantastic performance he provides, taking this film to a level that I don’t think many expected. The only(?) part of that original trailer that was even considered slightly redeemable was the excitement of seeing him hamming it up to a degree that we haven’t seen in now decades, but it’s all completely on point. You relish when he’s on screen, taking in every single scene stealing moment he’s allowed to just free reign as Jim freakin’ Carrey and take his version of Robotnik to delicious heights.
I’m reminded of those weekends of the 90’s heading to the cinema to watch whatever madcap comedy he’s making and enjoying the hell out of every moment. This entire film is wrapped up in a giant nostalgia bow and you have to wonder if the hiring of Jim Carrey to go utterly batshit as Robotnik was to intentionally add to that particular sense of childlike wonder we all experienced when watching him on screen for the first time. It feels like it’s been a long while that we’ve seen him have this much fun on screen and it’s rather miraculous the renaissance occurs slap bang in the middle of a Sonic The Hedgehog movie.
There’s so much more to enjoy, though. The heartbeat throughout the film explores the idea of friendship, takes the ball and runs with it. There’s a real emotional weight to Sonic and Tom’s (Marsden) relationship which anchors the action throughout. We learn that Sonic has always had a soft spot for Tom and his family from afar, and his connection allows for some genuinely strong narrative-driven moments between them.
Tom’s wife Maddie’s sister, Rachel (played by the brilliant Natasha Rothwell) is also fantastic. You probably haven’t heard an awful lot about her throughout the promotional material and I’m almost thankful for that. In the minimal screentime given to her (five or six minutes, max) she’s absolutely hilarious and garnered the biggest laughs from me. Rachel’s contribution is small and a little strange – she has beef with Tom which is never fully explained – but her dialogue steals her scenes. If there’s ever a sequel I hope she returns.
Sonic The Hedgehog was exactly what I thought it was going to be. A really fun, entertaining 90 minutes that offered more than enough to this old Sonic fan and kept me smiling once the movie really got going. The opening is a slow drag and the biker bar sequence is needlessly long, there’s plenty of fan service but there really could have been more – why put a generic orchestral score over the Robotink battles when you could have played his classic boss theme – but overall, I had a blast. It definitely didn’t exceed my expectations but it hit them right on target and I couldn’t have asked for more than that. And there’s a mid-credits scene that made me exclaim ‘YES’ louder than I was expecting it to.
There’s absolutely no way they should have stuck the landing this hard.
Sonic The Hedgehog is in cinemas now.
Disclaimer: In order to complete this review we purchased tickets to see the film. For our full review policy, please go here.
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