"Sonic the Hedgehog" (2020) Movie Review
I'm not sure if I should say I'm surprised or just grateful. After receiving worldwide backlash regarding Sonic's initial visuals when the first trailer dropped, Paramount pushed the release date back in order to give themselves time to redo all of the visuals in order to make Sonic look more like, well, Sonic. Before the visual change, he looked more like one of those creepy Ugly Dolls. Thankfully, Paramount listened to the fans and gave Sonic his classic look, erasing the nightmare and bringing us the character we all know and love. But what about Robotnik, you ask? Well, you'll just have to see the film for yourself and stay for the scenes during the credits. The film serves as an origin story, explaining how Sonic became the character in the games, hunting rings and thwarting Robotnik's plans.
The film follows Sonic the Hedgehog who came to Earth after tragedy struck his home world. The rings Sonic carries around are actually portals that help him get from one world to another, which explains all those fantastic levels in the games. Ten years later, Tom Wachowski discovers a quill that fell off Sonic's body during a run. He thinks nothing of it at the time. But when Sonic has an emotional breakdown which causes a city-wide blackout, Robotnik is brought in by the US government to track down and capture the cause of the anomaly. Tom discovers Sonic, Robotnik discovers Tom has the quill, and so sets in motion the chase of a lifetime. Tom and Sonic must find a way to stop Robotnik before he gets his way and captures our favorite hedgehog.
So obviously, there's actually a lot happening in the film. It's simple enough for kids to enjoy but smart enough for parents to have fun too. The film is well-paced and never feels overwhelming. In fact, I actually found myself wanting more. I understand that it's an origin story and they needed to explain where Sonic came from and also needed to show his journey to becoming the Sonic we all know, but I wanted more interaction between Sonic and Robotnik. Jim Carrey was absolutely brilliant and brought life to an ultimately lifeless character. When playing the games, did you ever care about Robotnik? Of course not, he was the guy chasing you. You wanted rid of him. But in the film, Carrey made you want to know more about him. Why is he the way he is? What made him turn against humanity? We discover all of this and more and the result just makes the chase all the more fun.
Ben Schwartz was an interesting choice to voice Sonic. In fact, the most well-known role Schwartz has had was of Jean-Ralphio Saperstein on Parks and Recreation. Anyone who only knows him from that role will find it a bit hard to get past Sonic's voice because all you can think of is Jean-Ralphio. Once you get into the mindset of the film, however, it all blends together wonderfully and soon enough you won't be able to picture anyone else voicing Sonic. As excitable as Schwartz is, it turns out he was the perfect casting decision.
I was a bit concerned about how the effects would look. I thought it would turn out like Garfield where the fakery was painfully obvious. But I was happily proven wrong. We've moved on since Garfield, turning to motion-capture technology instead of digitally adding the character in by guesswork later. The effects turned out to be well-done. The extra time spent on them certainly paid off.
In conclusion, I was happy with this film and enjoyed it probably more than I thought I would. It has a lot of humor and heart, a few Quicksilver and Flash references for all you comic fans, and it had a lot of Jim Carrey goofiness which hopefully is a sign that he's returning from his dark time with a newfound light. I give Sonic the Hedgehog a 3 out of 4.
© 2020 Nathan Jasper