Sonic the Hedgehog (2020)
Sonic the Hedgehog is a family-friendly plate of Sonic fan service presented with personality, but it's a bit too cliche and the plot too thin to receive a glowing recommendation.
- Redesigned Sonic looks and moves great
- Jim Carrey puts on a fantastic performance with incredible comedic timing
- Ben Schwartz' voice acting brings the Sonic character to life
- Nice callbacks to the SEGA video games
- The plot is thin even for a kids' movie
- Heavy reliance on overused speed tropes
- Feels aimless in the middle
Generally, I don’t bother with movies aimed at families or children. I’m 33 and addicted to gruesome horror movies.
However, when a family-friendly movie hits theaters featuring a video game character from my childhood, you’d better believe it has my attention.
Sonic the Hedgehog is just such a movie. It’s rated PG and clearly targeted at a younger audience. However, it also features a character who first found himself in video games in 1991. Not only were most of the kids seeing this movie not even born when Sonic first had to go fast, but some of their parents weren’t even born yet.
This mix creates an interesting potential audience for Sonic and an interesting challenge for the movie creators. Not only does the movie need to appeal to a new generation of movie fans, but it needs to harken back to the games enough to make old-school fans without kids (like me) happy.
Does Sonic the Hedgehog manage to deliver for all of its target audiences, or does is it just too family-friendly to appeal to Sonic fans from the old days.
The most important positive I can say about the Sonic movie is the look of Sonic himself. Thankfully, the creators decided to change that hideous-looking monstrosity they initially revealed. Instead, Sonic looks cool, likable, and cute. When you’re going to spend a good portion of the movie looking at and listening to a character, having it look good is important.
The animation quality of Sonic is top-notch. Even though he’s the only animated character in the movie, he looks and feels just as in-place in the world as any of the human characters. His movements have an incredible sense of speed, and his facial expressions are lifelike and they add to the emotion of many of the scenes.
Another positive of the Sonic character is the performance by Ben Schwartz as the Blue Blur’s voice actor. He conveys the attitude of the character when he’s at his most confident, while also adding emotional weight to the scenes where Sonic is struggling with his crippling loneliness and desire for friendship.
The MVP of the cast is, without question, Jim Carrey. His portrayal of Dr. Robotnik feels like a return to form for the legendary comedy actor. Not since the days of Ace Ventura or Dumb and Dumber has Carrey felt so on his game as far as comedic timing and body language. He brought a new level of life the character that was never shown in previous forms of Sonic media, which is no small feat when you consider how much Sonic has existed over the years.
There are some cool callbacks to the Sonic games that should make fans smile. Some are obvious and some are hidden Easter eggs, so Sonic super fans might get enjoyment out of watching the film more than once to see them all.
The biggest issue I have with Sonic the Hedgehog is how generic and, quite frankly, boring the plot is. In spite of the great performances by Schwartz, Carrey, and even James Marsden as Sonic’s friend Tom Wachowski, I never found myself sucked in.
While some of the smaller points in the movie are entertaining, the overall plot involving Sonic looking for his rings just didn’t grab me. Obviously, this movie is targeting families, but there are plenty of family films with engrossing plots that keep adults entertained throughout.
These issues really crop up around the middle of the film, as it really starts to drag. The relationship between Sonic and Tom has been clearly established, and it feels like the film is just killing time as it slowly builds to the climax. I found myself looking at my watch wondering the movie was going to end, which is something you never want to experience during a film.
The creators of the Sonic movie really loved the fact that the titular character is fast. They rely on the Sonic moves so fast that everything else slows down trope multiple times throughout the movie. It was cool the first time, but after it kept being used over and over, it started to feel like a lazy way to kill time.
In the end, the movie is just boring. While there are plenty of positives, being boring outweighs all of them, and it keeps the movie from being enjoyable for anyone other than die-hard Sonic fans and children.
For what it’s worth, most of the people in the theater with me were children, and they all seemed to love the movie. Many of them even stood up and clapped at the end. Obviously, I’m not a young child, and it’s hard to put myself into their point of view, but at least from anecdotal evidence, it seems like kids enjoy the movie.
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