‘Sonic the Hedgehog’ // Film Review: The Video Game Movie That’s Equally Fast and Fairly Decent

With Sonic the Hedgehog coming out, there’s never any real anticipation for cartoon characters, from television or video games, getting the live-action treatment since it usually loses the magic that made them good. It’s also worse when it’s also a video game adaptation. The last time that worked fairly well was with last year’s Pokémon: Detective Pikachu. Now, Paramount Pictures finally brings one of the most popular video game characters to the big screen that will lead to mixed reactions, but tons of fun for those who just want something that won’t be a painful experience.

What’s the Story: Sonic (voiced by Ben Schwartz), a blue anthropomorphic hedgehog, is one fast animal. When he was little, he escapes from his dimension when his super-speed powers and has been hiding out on Earth in the small town of Green Hills. While causing a massive power outage, this caused the attention of the government, and they hire Dr. Robotnik (Jim Carrey), who tries to hunt him down. To make sure he stays safe, Sonic needs help from Tom (James Marsden), the sheriff of the small town, and decides the help Sonic rescue his precious rings.

Ben Schwartz in Sonic the Hedgehog (2020)

I wouldn’t say I’m a Sonic fan since I never had a Sega Genesis growing up, but I always knew he’s one of the biggest names with the well-known gaming company. Probably the biggest fan I know comes from a guy I went to elementary through high school with that was obsessed. All I know about the character is that he’s freakin’ fast and his love chili dogs are off the charts. It took them long enough to make any kind of movie based on him. Though it started off on a very rocky start in its marketing. Basically, the first trailer that the studio released was truly awful, especially the abomination look of Sonic, with his human teeth and a design that resembles the Quiznos’ Spongemonkey.

The reaction to the live-action look was overwhelmingly negative. So, they actually listened to the fans and pushed the release date back to fix the design. When the second trailer came out around November, he looked much better, along with the look of the movie. That’s not to say that the movie itself was going to be good, but it was a vast improvement of what’s to come later on. Jeff Fowler, known for his work on the Oscar-nominated short Gopher Broke, makes his feature film debut here, and it makes for a family film that will be appreciated for kids. I didn’t know what to expect walking into Sonic the Hedgehog, so it’s a surprise to say I didn’t hate it, and it’s definitely nowhere near Super Mario Bros. movie terrible. 

Casting Schwartz, known for playing Jean-Ralphio on Parks and Recreation, to voice Sonic was an interesting choice since it surprised me they brought someone a little recognizable to provide for the part. Though, there was a part of me wondering where was Jaleel White or Roger Craig Smith. Besides the point, Schwartz did an excellent job bring some charm to this character. I forgot that it was even him voicing Sonic for a large majority of the movie throughout, but that’s an advantage for not getting lost in his work in this.

I even thought Marsden did a capable job at interacting with a CGI character, better and more believable when it’s him and the bunny from the forgettable movie Hop. This is the kind of chemistry that’s easily bought and what turns into a buddy movie. Speaking of the CGI look, it’s passable enough since it looks nearly like his video game counterpart. We should all give a huge thanking to the visual effects artist for taking the time to fix that gigantic issue.

Carrey hasn’t portrayed the villain in a movie in a long time. To me, he’s one of the funniest comedic stars in the world when I was growing up, though being nervous about his role was probably a given. That’s mainly because the first trailer made him look so unfunny. I wouldn’t say he stole the movie as Dr. Robotnik, or his other name Eggman, but it was just great seeing him be over-the-top crazy since we haven’t seen him to that kind of thing in a long time that’s funny. No one should ever complain about a performance from Carrey since he’s practically the king of going crazy.

Jim Carrey in Sonic the Hedgehog (2020)

Coming across the action sequences, they were entertaining enough when we see Sonic showing off his speeding abilities. Not the most memorable action to blast through my eyes, but it’s a good thing that it didn’t bore me whenever it was on screen.

There’s nothing remotely groundbreaking about the movie since you already know what will happen for the kind of story that’s been told a dozen times before. Screenwriters Patrick Casey and Josh Miller surely knew the characteristics that associate with Sonic, yet there isn’t anything new with this storyline, except there’s this understanding that he is lonely in this town and just wants a friend in his life. That’s probably what made me care about him. It’s safe to say we all know what will be the outcome of that. At least the character is in custom with how the real world works. Most of the jokes didn’t make me laugh, but at least they weren’t as insufferable as any of the moments from The Smurfs or Alvin and the Chipmunks movies. When I was seeing this with my audience, they laughed a good amount. This is one of those movies where its funny moments will be hilarious or kind of lazily written.

James Marsden and Ben Schwartz in Sonic the Hedgehog (2020)

In the end and after all it’s went through, Sonic the Hedgehog is perfectly fine for families to enjoy. I think fans of the character will be pleased enough. It’s predictable and a lot of the humor is very hit-or-miss, but I got to give credit to Ben Schwartz’s vocal performance as the title character and for being fast-paced (pun intended). This is coming from the perspective of an adult and just seeing this being made for children, and the feeling of them having fun with this will be easy to understand. I can easily say this is one of the more watchable video game movies that doesn’t leave you in anger. By the way, be sure to stay during the credits because there might be a surprise that awaits afterward.

Grade: B-

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