While SEGA delayed the release another three months to change the hideous first Sonic CGI model, the wait was not worth the hustle, as the dumb movie it’s in merely imitates the exact same type of 1980s road/buddy flick combined with the vibe of the 1990s. As for the other humans around Sonic the Hedgehog, they’re equally as bland to look at, the lead actor, James Marsden, plays a Montana cop who gets a new San Francisco job, and his sole quirk is being somewhat stuck up but still a total charm. That’s it. That type of flatness is what causes many artistic products to look similarly dull as its mindset unintentionally teaches its audience to be selfish; that even goes to some old classics: The Terminator for instance wrongly says you can control your future. Though some films with that mindset still manage to achieve a solid message, Terminator 2: Judgment Day for instance rightly says that our mistakes have fatal future consequences. The difference though is James Cameron’s sequel was made with serious passion and care, not trying to rake in nostalgia bucks. There are so many better ways you can spend your money that isn’t donating to protect this fictional egotistic hedgehog.
Sonic is the type of character who realizes how much on his bucket list he missed, but you’ll miss them too since his only real trait is his incredible speed that enables him to run across his homeland in under two seconds. Twice you see him move normally as everything else around him freezes still to show how fast he moves, and throughout those sequences, he performs a dozen tasks before an eye blinks, and even is able to take a selfie. Although his average speed reaches 300 mph, his speed varies throughout, as he can’t run down a building quick enough to catch a falling object before it hits the ground. Because of his inconsistent speed powers, each joke focus on it gradually grows less funny than the last. Also, he farts for another quick gag, so all other gags remains futile against the flatulent humor.
The antics by the hog aren’t the only chuckles that mostly fail, the human characters that aren’t all cartoony also attempt humor that doesn’t work. The extremely boring wife of the Montana cop for instance prepares for him two separate cakes for two separate potential outcomes, and accidentally shows him the cake for the outcome that isn’t. I understand its intent is to prove how doubtful she is despite claiming she has no doubts, but it’s still among the many non-adhesive jokes of the feature.
Then there’s Jim Carrey, who plays Sonic’s great nemesis, Robotnik, acting all whacky like in his glory days, which in this circumstance is appropriate considering the role he plays. I will admit it’s actually a fun refreshment to see the old Carrey back despite his extinct fame, with a moustache to complete his image. Yet at one point he turns on a soundtrack labeled, “Sounds of Anarchy,” while he dances inside his “evil lair,” which instantly reminds you how deeply he resonates with the Saturday morning cartoon tropes without anything new added. You may argue that none of it is supposed to be realistic, but I can’t buy into the fact that this world strives to be cartoony, because the CGI still looks like absolute garbage. I mean, giving the crowd realistic reactions to seeing a blue creature out in public would set the stakes higher, and would make things easier in taking those stakes seriously. The intent is not to be authentic with its own world rules, but to be as mindlessly out there as possible. In one sporadic chase, Sonic travels from Paris to China to Egypt, while it could be somewhat fun, the way these cultures are portrayed isn’t so fitting for a 2020 audience.
In addition to the excessive feel of being thirty years old, Sonic’s big movie tosses in pop culture references, including the floss dance and President Dwayne “the Rock” Johnson. The types of narrative structures from recent movies are copied too, particularly the “let‘s back up“ voiceover at the beginning. Plus, an upside-down shot of Robotnik is there to shout, “Hey! We could not do this camera angle back in the old days! Whee!” Heck, even the soundtrack sounds twenty-five years old! Not only will these elements age the movie really bad, but of course cause the plot to suffer too. The idea for the script basically began with the E.T. rip-off template of the government intending to capture the discovered alien on earth. Then it was added onto with all the other old genre tropes: a power outage, a buddy road trip, a bar fight, a cheap public disguise, I know, sounds so riveting!
There are attempts though to make this not just a cartoon. Sonic feels all alone and most wants a real friend more than anything else on his bucket list, this idea gets conveyed satisfactorily when he acts out an entire baseball game alone, but that’s the only thing really. Those attempts at emotion remain futile, since fan service takes top spot in priorities; specific attention emphasizes him receiving his signature red shoes, even though they are never utilized in a significant way during the climax. Two end-credits scenes are put in to obviously set up for a sequel that will probably never happen—even if it does happen, I doubt it will be as successful.
While I described each plot point, you probably kept thinking, “Oh, it’s just like that other dumb kids’ movie I saw years and years ago!” Honestly, Sonic the Hedgehog only caters to players of the video games, just like every video game movie that’s ever existed. I think much of the film relies on references only players of the video games could spot, but since I never played the games before, I didn’t grasp any of those. For a movie with grander appeal, watch a member of the gritty 1970s action genre: The French Connection, where criminals face the consequences. Even today, many fast-paced action movies contain more of a purpose, Baby Driver for instance depicts a societal rebel who escapes through music. Check out those instead.
If there is a specific movie you’d like to see graded, or if you are interested in guest blogging for my site, please email me at Trevor@TrevorsViewOnHollywood.com for your recommendations.
Have a great weekend, and happy watching!
Ehrlich, David. “‘Sonic the Hedgehog’ Review: Fixing Sonic’s Terrifying Face Hasn’t Made This Movie Any Less of a Nightmare.” Digital image. IndieWire. WordPress, 2020 Feb 13. Web. <https://www.indiewire.com/2020/02/sonic-the-hedgehog-movie-review-1202210884/>.
Sonic the Hedgehog. Paramount Pictures. Web. <https://www.sonicthehedgehogmovie.com/>.