Sonic The Hedgehog (2020) Movie Review

The astronomically anticipated movie has finally arrived, and it is quite the gift the second trailer promised it would be.

This is a complete reboot setting of the Sonic Universe, which I suspect is fairly common. Sonic has that kind of restartability. Sonic used to live on an island, never mind which planet nor how he and his guardian owl speak English, and it was an island that had loads of room for rolling and running so he’d be never late to school, if there was such a thing. But ten years ago, Sonic accidentally exposed himself too much to other inhabitants and he ended up attacked, so he was forced to flee to a different planet, teleportation possible from special gold rings. Ten years since he first had to say goodbye to his childhood home, he’s been by himself across about eight other planets, and his latest one is Earth. He’s been living safe and sound in an underground bunker in the small town of Green Hills. But it’s only just a matter of time before his exposure occurs, and this time he might have a little trouble with his escape.

I gotta say, as much as Sonic was an exciting figure, I didn’t really grow up with him in my life, and I can’t figure out an exact reason why. Maybe none of his television series ever aired on any of my favourite channels as a child. Or maybe I felt the Sonic universe was humungous at the point where I started to notice the franchise’s popularity, and felt too big to want to get right into. Maybe I felt the titular character was a little over-powerful. However, I was still very excited for this film and rooting for it, because like Detective Pikachu, it was a film that had a chance to show people that fans of popular video games shouldn’t be overlooked as nerds with childish tastes. Also, after the director agreed to invest another 5-million dollars to redesign Sonic after the first design’s backlash, I felt that was a respectful form of the studio listening to its fan base, so I really advocated for the film. You might say this caused me to have a positive bias toward it, but it’s certainly not a pushover film.

This movie is definitely the nice little family treat. Or maybe it’s not really little, at least by the blue hedgehog’s standards. This movie reboots the origins of Sonic and paints a genius concept that is all too understandable in loads of stories; Sonic is superpowerful, and that means there are those out there who want to capture, experiment and benefit off of him, his emotions not worth a ball of lint. And making friends would endanger them against the greedy chasers too, so he feels it’s better to live his life on his own. Except…he’s lonely. Tremendously. This is like the concept of the first Shrek movie, involving trying to make the best of being alone because you know the world rejects you, but you’re not truly happy.

This movie involves loads of running, and loads of joking around. The jokes are inoffensive yet really work, and there’s nothing too sugary to annoy adults and nothing grotesque to freak out kids. You could also, from all this running, call this movie a version of X-Men’s Quicksilver, or a relative of his, having his Einstein-slow-time powers and unlimited energy fully ready to go. Also, whenever it gets dramatic, it doesn’t make fun of itself.

Now, it’s far from the revolution that was Pokemon: Detective Pikachu, my pick for best movie of 2019, even above Avengers: Endgame and 1917. The live-action Pokemon film paid homage to every single person who ever gave Pokemon a look, and literally made a dream come true. This movie instead decided it wants to, ironically, take it slow for now, by focusing on one brand new part of the upcoming Sonic world, which isn’t really bad. It gives the movie a digestible feel as we relearn what we thought we knew about the world of light-speed hedgehogs. I just feel it gives the impression there could’ve been more, but maybe that’s partially the prior anticipation talking. Also, the overpowering of Sonic which I mentioned before is at present here too, and I understand it’s what the character has been all about for decades. But it made it so I rarely felt this Sonic was in big danger. It also leaves out how Marsden’s character is able to not have to worry about being chased to the point where this could have an impact on the rest of his life, and he doesn’t worry about being recognized from the news. He even shares his badge with someone whose job it probably is to keep an eye out for people on the run.

Still, this film has some major standouts. Jim Carrey as Dr. Robotnik is perfect. I don’t know how he got involved with this, but I could tell he saw this as a chance to play someone psychopathic, hyperactive, short-tempered, narcissistic, loud, and absolutely irresistible. Even if we don’t really understand the origins of what made this Robotnik so power hungry, Carrey makes him so riotously entertaining we don’t mind a low-background villain. He seemed to be having the time of his life, as was Ben Schwartz playing the voice of Sonic.

Schwartz has voiced loads of cartoon characters, but in a feature like this, you’d expect a big celebrity like how Ryan Reynolds played Pikachu (which added to that film’s amazement). But Schwartz manages to personalize this Sonic into someone certainly suitable: having a big sense of humour, and is able to talk with the enthusiasm of his running.

The film ends up feeling like it ends too quickly, but after a very heartwarming ending, there’s a mid-credits scene that brings even further suggestion that the Sega movie studio is in good hands. This was Part 1, and I’m already ready for Part 3!

If you like this, I would try: Pokemon Detective Pikachu (obviously), the old Sega Genesis Sonic Games, the live-action Smurfs films (1 and 2), and Who Framed Roger Rabbit

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