After a 2-month delay due to redesigning the titular character, the ‘Sonic the Hedgehog’ Movie is finally out!
‘Sonic the Hedgehog’ is based on the Sega video game franchise and stars James Marsden and Ben Schwartz. Marsden plays a small-town police officer who discovers the small, blue Hedgehog and decides to help him escape from an evil genius who wants to experiment on him.
Ever since it was announced, I’ve been fascinated with this film. It never looked like it was going to work and, when the first trailer came out, there was a huge outcry against Sonic’s strange design. So much so, that director Jeff Fowler tweeted that the film was going to be delayed from a December release to a February release so that the character could be redesigned. This was an incredible decision that rarely happens, if not at all: a major production company listening to a fanbase’s feedback and acting on it.
So, was it worth it? Absolutely!
At the time of writing, ‘Sonic the Hedgehog’ has just broken the record for the biggest weekend opening for a video game adaptation, earning over $110million worldwide (with a budget of $85million). And it isn’t difficult to see why: it’s a fun and charming film.
I’ve always found James Marsden a great and charming actor, and this is no exception. His character is immediately likable, and him and Ben Schwartz have great on-screen chemistry the second they interact with each other. As the core theme of the movie is friendship, it demonstrates this to us brilliantly through the two lead characters’ story arcs.
Ben Schwartz voices Sonic the Hedgehog and was the perfect casting choice for the furry blue character. His personality was portrayed differently than in the games: instead of being a quippy, sassy Hedgehog, he had a childlike innocence to him, and I’m glad Paramount Pictures went with this choice rather than the former. I highly doubt he would’ve been a very likable character if his game persona had been placed into the film. Keeping with the subject of the blue mammal, I still cannot say how thankful I am towards Paramount Pictures, director Jeff Fowler and the animation department for the titular character’s redesign. While it’s a mystery as to how no one at Paramount went ‘maybe this isn’t right’ when greenlighting the original design, the new design is glorious. The cartoony nature of his makeover means that, not only does it look like Sonic, but he’s also very expressive; something that was missing from the first design. The more I watched the film, the more I realized the whole thing wouldn’t have worked if Paramount had kept Sonic as a human/rat hybrid!
Jim Carrey plays Dr Robotnik and gives the role his undivided attention, and the amount of work he put into the character shows. His version of the arch-nemesis reminded me of his performance as The Riddler from 1995’s ‘Batman Forever’. For some people, this may sound like a bad thing, but it isn’t. For me, that particular Batman film was part of my childhood; therefore, his performance in ‘Sonic the Hedgehog’ can be described as nostalgic as well as going back to the actor’s roots of his 90’s films. He brought the dry humour and threat that the character needed, as well as adding his own charm to the role.
The one aspect of the Sonic movie I was looking forward to was the action scenes, especially considering his super speed ability. And it delivers, including a bar scene that was clearly influenced by ‘X-Men: Days of Future Past’. However, because it’s Sonic the Hedgehog, it works beautifully. The action scenes, while they mostly appear in the third act, were unique-looking and exciting.
And, while the movie is set in the real world, don’t worry: there are plenty of references to the games. These include a look at the Green Hill Zone (and its theme music), the Sonic theme playing during the opening credits, a few mentions of a Mushroom Kingdom and a certain character showing up (stay for a mid-credits scene!).
If there’s anything to criticize, it would be that the first 20 minutes run at the speed of sound and give us flimsy exposition. While we do get a look at the Green Hill Zone (the first area featured in the Sonic games), it is brief. However, this is very nit-picky as the film doesn’t need to give its audience a lot of exposition to tell its story.
Overall, ‘Sonic the Hedgehog’ is a fantastic film and deserves all the praise it’s getting. It’s charming, funny and enjoyable. However, it also serves as a lesson to the film industry when it comes to adapting beloved material to the big screen. Respect the source material as well as its fanbase. If the fanbase don’t love and support the adaptation, there’s usually a reason why.
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