Video game movies have had a controversial history being adapted to the big screen, but after last year’s “Detective Pikachu” and most recently “Sonic the Hedgehog,” released Feb. 14, they appear to be on a steady incline.
After accidentally causing a power outage throughout the entire East Coast, Sonic, voiced by Ben Schwartz (“Parks and Recreation,” “This Is Where I Leave You”), attracts the attention of the U.S. government. Sending their top scientist Dr. Robotnik, played by Jim Carrey (“Truman Show,” “Bruce Almighty”), to track down the cause, Sonic must find a way to keep his powers out of the evil doctor’s hands.
Sam: Cute Redesigned Sonic
“Sonic the Hedgehog” is a movie that hits the ground running, full of heart and a sound story that does the source material justice. Since the Sonic games never gave him a proper origin story, the movie takes some liberties. Though the creation of another “Baby” character adds to the onslaught of modern civilization’s downfall, it proved to be an interesting take on the character.
The writing throughout the film was both funny and heartwarming, with the occasional joke that fell flat. With fast-paced action and an energetic road trip story, the movie is a faithful adaptation for fans of the video game, which makes for a great family film. The writer duo, Pat Casey and Josh Miller (“Gamebox 1.0”), took liberties while making this adaptation, but made sure to do justice to the character.
Making Sonic an alien from a distant planet felt jarring at first, yet ultimately excusable after a couple of minutes of watching. There were many new additions to the character when adapting this film to the big screen, but none of them seemed too out of place within the narrative.
The film’s director, Jeff Fowler, made his directorial debut and decided to take the character of Sonic in a new direction from his video game counterpart. Whereas the game version has a more laid back and cool exterior, the movie portrays him as an energetic teenager with almost ADHD-like tendencies. What could’ve ended up being an annoying character trait ended up as a charming and enjoyable development, thanks to Schwartz’s prowess.
Every actor involved ended up having a surprisingly fun performance. James Marsden (“Enchanted,” “X-Men”) turns what could’ve been a one-dimensional character into a likable one.
The most notable performance is Carrey’s Dr. Robotnik, who gives a performance similar to his “Ace Ventura” era. He’s the highlight of the movie, as his screwball energy and villainous aura tie everything together, making the film a great step forward for video game adaptations.
Ben: Demon Human Teeth Sonic
Video game movies have a long history of being horrible, from “Super Mario Bros” to “Assassin’s Creed.” While “Sonic the Hedgehog” bucks this trend for the most part, it carries many of the hallmarks of these previous failures. The film is held back by an uninspired score and multiple pointless characters.
Boring original scores are a plague on the modern film industry, with most scores consisting of lackluster strings and generic rising tones. This movie is no exception, barring two instances of fun references to “Sonic Mania” and the original game.
Consisting mostly of predictable jukebox songs and uninspired rock pieces, “Sonic the Hedgehog” is entirely lacking in the sound department and leaves many scenes feeling hollow. There’s one notable scene in which a loud rock song plays during a bar fight, making “Sonic the Hedgehog” feel like a “Guardians of the Galaxy” ripoff. As well as the climactic fight between Robotnik and Sonic, as the generic music takes what could’ve been a heart pumping action sequence into a simple yet enjoyable fight.
The weird thing about Sonic is there aren’t many characters in the first few video games, as fan favorites like Tails or Knuckles were added in the sequels. Unlike the first Mario game where Princess Peach and Bowser also appear, the first Sonic game only has Sonic and Robotnik. So unless the filmmakers want to make a movie with three characters, they had to invent some of their own.
While some of these original characters worked, such as Tom (Marsden) or Maddie (Tika Sumpter), many fell completely flat, including Agent Stone (Lee Majdoub) and Billy Robb (Adam Pally), who serve absolutely no purpose in the plot. Keeping characters like this around weighs the film down and renders some scenes dead in the water.
“Sonic the Hedgehog” is one of the most entertaining blockbusters to come out in some time, as Carrey’s energetic Eggman and fast-paced action make for an enjoyable movie. With a better soundtrack and more streamlining with the characters, this film could have been something great.
“Sonic the Hedgehog,” rated PG, is playing in theaters nationwide