Review: “Sonic the Hedgehog” Is a Fun Take on the Long-Running Video Game Franchise
After many years in development, the live action adaptation of “Sonic the Hedgehog” has arrived after being delayed from its planned initial release in November 2019 to redo its visual effects. As the first feature film from director Jeff Fowler, the film is a fun take on the long-running video game series and a fast-paced action comedy on its own merits.
The film follows the titular Sonic the Hedgehog (voice of Ben Schwarz) as he tries to elude a faction of paranoid military officers; while fighting an army of killer robots from Dr. Ivo “Robotnik” Eggman (a delightfully hammy Jim Carrey). Forming a reluctant alliance with a human police officer named Tom (James Marsden), Sonic must protect himself and his homeworld from disaster across a breezy 100 minutes.
After the divisive reception to the first trailer in early 2019, the movie was pushed back in order to redesign the film’s visual effects for the title character; pushing the production budget to $125 million. The results were worth every penny, as the movie’s quality is more in line with last year’s “Pokémon Detective Pikachu” than 1993’s infamous live-action “Super Mario Bros.” movie.
At its core, the film is a buddy road trip adventure with a science-fiction twist. Fowler had previously worked with Tim Miller on the first “Deadpool” film, and the movie has a family-friendly take on that franchise’s tongue-in-cheek comedy. Marsden makes a great “straight man” to Schwarz’ take on Sonic. Schwarz previously showed his comedic talents in TV series such as “Parks and Recreation,” Nickelodeon’s “Rise of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” and 2017’s excellent revival of “Duck Tales.”
Jim Carrey steals the show as Dr. Eggman, whose increasing resemblance to his video game counterpart and obsession with Sonic helps fuel yet another addition to his filmography of comedic villains. The film is rife with Easter eggs from the games and even teases a potential follow-up for the near future. Given the film’s surprise success with critics, fans and audiences (63% Fresh Rotten Tomates rating as of this writing), it’s a solid possibility.
Much like its titular blue hedgehog in red running shoes, “Sonic the Hedgehog” is a fast-paced and fun step forward for live-action video game adaptations; easy to recommend for both newcomers and longtime fans alike.
Review by Steven Pryor
AT A GLANCE:
TITLE: Sonic the Hedgehog (2020)
STARRING: Ben Schwarz, Jim Carrey, James Marsden and Tika Sumpter
DIRECTED BY: Jeff Fowler (Based on the video game series by Sega and Sonic Team)