By Peter Marcroft
As a franchise Sonic the Hedgehog has – being as fair as possible – a mixed bag in terms of quality. For every Sonic 2, Sonic Adventure, and Sonic Mania; there’s a Sonic Labyrinth, Sonic Boom, and Sonic ’06.
Then there’s video game movie efforts, we have seen the decent (Detective Pikachu), the so bad they’re good (Street Fighter) and the godawful (Alone in the Dark). So, with these shaky foundations, a Sonic the Hedgehog movie was never going to get out of the blocks well. As a result, the first trailer which featured the woefully out of place Gangster’s Paradise by Coolio as a soundtrack and THAT character design should have sunk this flagship once and for all.
Credit must be given where it’s due, however, as Sega and Paramount postponed the film and injected a tonne more cash and time to fix what fans called a catastrophic design.
Pencilled in for Valentine’s day, Sonic finally arrived on the big screen. The design fixed, Gangster’s Paradise kicked to the kerb in favour of legendary Queen track Don’t stop me now. Yup, take the money Sega, you’ve pulled a rabbit from the hat already.
As a movie this takes the form of both an origin and an established story narrative. We get to see Sonic as a child chased from his world and thrust headlong into ours. But there’s no pontificating of how he grows on earth, other than a sharp fourth-wall breaking monologue which raises the chuckles and pleases the eye. Another cool touch is the movie’s main location has a nice Master System/Mega Drive call back to it, while later San Francisco sections delightfully pay tribute to Sonic Adventure 2.
Plot wise this is as routine as one would expect. Sonic causes a mega power outage which sees the government turn to aloof scientist Dr Robotnik (Jim Carey) as a way of tracking down the issue. Cue a transcontinental pursuit which sees both square off in multiple ways.
Delivery wise the film doesn’t aim solely at the kids market. There are some crude jokes, adult references, and Easter eggs referencing both Sonic and Sega by the bucket load. Hardcore fans will have fun spotting all these, while kids will find the upbeat and fast pace story something to lose themselves in.
Jim Carey, however, does his best job of playing Jim Carey. It’s not a bad thing per se, with touches of both The adventures of Sonic the Hedgehog and Sonic X Robotnik on display occasionally. However, in the main, it’s like watching Ace Ventura’s aloof science obsessed brother rather than the antagonist we all know and love. Plus the occasional darker lines don’t quite have the delivery that Sat Am Robotnik had, a missed opportunity for some character duality it must be said.
There is a lot of CGI as to be expected and the usual trope of two strangers bonding in minutes happens also, however, the movie is entertaining. And that’s the most important thing. It has some great moments of humour (the brilliant parody of Quicksilver in X-Men Days of Future Past a particular high point), and there’s even a moment where a trope of easy victory is broken in an unexpected surprise.
There’s little doubt of a sequel, especially for those who wait a little at the end. Bonus points being awarded for the excellent 16-bit recreation of scenes as the curtain rises. On the whole it goes fast, it shoots straight, and it has enough hat tipping at source material for any fan to be satisfied. As a family movie, it is not overly long and doesn’t feel like it plods in the middle. Consider this the old school Saturday matinee. Definitely check it out.
Rating – 7/10