Sonic the Hedgehog (2020)

Movie Title: Sonic the Hedgehog

Year Released: 2020

Rated: PG

Runtime: 1h 40min

Genre: Fantasy, Adventure, Comedy

Director: Jeff Fowler

Writer: Pat Casey, Josh Miller

Starring: James Marsden, Ben Schwartz, Tika Sumpter, Jim Carrey, Lee Majdoub, Natasha Rothwell, Adam Pally, Neal McDonough, Frank C. Turner

Review: Sonic (Ben Schwartz) tries to navigate the complexities of life on Earth with his newfound best friend -- a human named Tom Wachowski (James Marsden). They must soon join forces to prevent the evil Dr. Robotnik (Jim Carrey) from capturing Sonic and using his powers for world domination.

Historically speaking, video game movies are a bit of an abomination. If you take a look back at critic and fan reviews of many of these films, you'll see that they are overwhelmingly negative. Adapting a 40-plus-hour video game campaign into a 2-hour movie can be very difficult. Also, video games have an interactive element, where the story being told by a movie is at the mercy of the directors and the writers. This makes the genre as a whole very challenging. With that said, it appears the tide may be turning. Pokémon Detective Pikachu was released in 2019, and was a refreshing, original story adapted to the massive Pokémon universe. It was an outlier perhaps, as a movie revolving around a mega-famous video game universe did something different than their source material might suggest. In the case of Sonic the Hedgehog, a similar approach was taken. Sonic has a friend who's not a flying fox, a red anthropomorphic echidna, or his pink hedgehog girlfriend. In this film, Sonic befriends a human police officer named Tom. It's a portrayal of the character that we've never seen before as Sonic tries to acclimate himself to regular society. With plenty of callbacks to the video game, as well as a fresh new story, Sonic the Hedgehog manages to be a lot of fun for fans of the franchise. Sonic is a charming character, voiced perfectly by Ben Schwartz. Jim Carrey is in peak '90s Carrey form as the villainous Dr. Robotnik. The character is goofy and over-the-top in a way that Carrey does best. While I wouldn't have pictured Dr. Robotnik as this type of character, I think the end result oddly enough worked for me. Sonic develops a fun friendship with Tom, and finally finds his purpose on Earth among a population of people not accustomed to talking hedgehogs. It's a really sweet, heartfelt tale. Overall, it's a light-hearted comedy that will provide entertainment for the whole family. Kids will love the talking blue speedster hedgehog and the exuberant silliness of Dr. Robotnik. Adults who grew up playing the games will also enjoy all of the callbacks to the original source material. At a brisk 100 minutes, this film is a quick, easy watch that is well worth your time!

Stars (out of 4):

Fun Fact: When the first teaser poster was released, Naoto Ohshima, the character's original designer, and Yuji Naka, former head of Sonic Team, said they disliked Sonic's appearance. The first trailer caused a massive fan backlash. On May 2, 2019, director Jeff Fowler announced on Twitter that Sonic's design was going to be altered to make the character "the best he can be." The movie's scheduled release was moved from Thanksgiving 2019 to Valentine's Day 2020. When a new trailer and poster were released on November 12, 2019, fans and viewers alike praised Sonic's new look.


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