Movie Review: Sonic The Hedgehog

By Ben Clarke 29.02.2020 2

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Sonic The Hedgehog (UK Rating: PG)

Proving to be controversial right from the initial reveal, SEGA's Sonic the Hedgehog surprises on many fronts, demonstrating that smart character writing and a focused narrative can be enough to engage audiences of all ages. While it doesn't reach new heights in terms of its genre, it's a crowning achievement in the world of video game movies, becoming one of the biggest surprises in the history of this legacy franchise. Sonic the Hedgehog is the first live-action movie to come from the blue blur, starring James Marsden as the human companion to Sonic, Tom Wachowski, Jim Carrey as the titular Doctor Robotnik, and the voice of Sonic the Hedgehog himself, Ben Schwartz. Together, Sonic and Tom must work to outrun not only the government, but also the nefarious Doctor Robotnik, as they aim to stop Sonic in his tracks and neutralise him for good.
From the get-go, it's clear that Sonic the Hedgehog was produced as a passion project for not only Sonic's core fans, but also newcomers to the series, providing a fresh outlook on the speedster, whilst staying true to the character's outgoing, if not slightly cocky attitude. From the opening ensemble showcasing a subtle nod to the original Green Hill Zone's music and iconic SEGA chant from the MEGA Drive days, to Sonic's ego-filled narration reminiscent of his '90s alter-ego, the movie presents many elements that should be familiar to long-time Sonic fans, and yet establishes those ideas with such nuance as to not alienate newcomers to the franchise. While all of these ideas may not stick their landing, serving to be apparent blunders in an otherwise focused, character-driven plot, the movie ultimately succeeds in telling a new tale of its own, pleasing both diehard Sonic fans, and those unfamiliar with the series until now.
Perhaps the strongest point of the movie, the opening 10 minutes, whisk viewers straight into the action, disrupting a city-wide chase scene between Sonic and Doctor Robotnik, with Sonic's eccentric narration taking over in the midst of this chaos. From this point, a decent glimpse of Sonic's home world is revealed, closely resembling that of Sonic Generations' rendition of Green Hill Zone, and it looks marvellous to say the least, acting as a loving tribute to Sonic's past, and acting as a way to push the narrative forwards, being followed by a surprisingly intense scene that executes a satisfying explanation as to why Sonic is trapped on earth to begin with.
It's from here on out where we get to see the true nature of Sonic's personality in the movie, and suffice to say, it won't be disappointing any audiences. A free spirit, Sonic is portrayed as a kind and caring creature, admiring the animals and people that surround him in the town of Green Hills. This doesn't get in the way of his more edgy personality, however, as he still pertain that level of egotism that made him so iconic in the first place. Not only this, but an added layer of depth is given to his character arc, with the movie going out of its way in multiple instances to portray just how lonely Sonic really is. This generally aids the movie's plot and showcases a side to Sonic that's rather refreshing, naturally conflicting with his at times egotistical side, being used as a shield to portray Sonic's true isolation.


There are times where this caricature comes across as contrived and forced, with Sonic outright telling himself that he has no friends, acting as a way to arbitrarily get the audience to sympathise with the blue devil. Actions speak louder than words, and the movie simply showing the viewers Sonic's loneliness would've been a more effective way to get this point across. With all of this said, the characterisation of Sonic was the absolute highlight of the movie, giving the character a new lease of life and acting as a role model for younger generations to look up to and admire. Combine this with an excellent performance from Ben Schwartz, and it's fair to say that this may be one of best portrayals of the popular character to date.
If there was one thing the movie could have delivered more on, it'd be the dynamic between Sonic and Doctor Robotnik. Jim Carrey's performance as the iconic villain was expectedly great, sustaining a demeaning presence and delivering perfectly timed, comedic one-liners that inexplicably capture Carrey's charm. Just like Sonic, however, a contrived architecture of his character, that he is better than everyone else, is also arbitrarily ham-fisted to the audience, creating the illusion of a more one-dimensional character when there certainly is depth to be found. Luckily though, Carrey's charismatic performance and excellent delivery of his lines, combined with witty and genuinely funny dialogue, helped to patch up the mishaps surrounding the overall portrayal of the character, with a conclusion that acts as a suitable next step into the evolution of what will become the fully-formed Doctor Robotnik. Since this movie acts as an origin story for Sonic, it's understandable that these pair don't get too much screen time together, though this has led with the duo not having too much chemistry between them as a result, which does bring the movie down, if not by much.
Sonic is mostly paired with the main new character of the movie, Tom, as played by James Marsden. He works as a police officer, serving his hometown of Green Hills at all costs. His main character purpose of the movie is debating his new job position at San Francisco, leaving behind his lifelong town in pursuit of a new change. This directly conflicts with Sonic's views and admiration for the town, leading to a short-lived argument between the two that again, feels arbitrary due to its lack of development and build-up. Other than this small blip, Sonic and Tom's chemistry together works to the movie's advantage, injecting some great, heartfelt moments in conjunction with many funny jokes that had the audience cheering from left and right on a constant basis.
Witnessing Sonic's presence on-screen is a treat to the eyes, with creative action set-pieces that encompasses Sonic's wondrous sense of speed to its full effect, with one scene in particular taking place during a bar fight that stands out as of the movie's highlights. It certainly could've gone further with these scenarios as there are comparatively fewer exciting action scenes as there are of characters standing around and talking, but due to the nature of the movie and how it mainly focuses on building up these characters, this is a minor oversight, though one that could be balanced more evenly in a potential sequel.
There are some glaring plot-holes throughout the film that otherwise hinder a great story of friendship and trust. Whether that be side-plots that are completely forgotten about, or unfathomable flaws that forget about Sonic's super-speed ability entirely, they don't occur nearly enough to detract from the overall experience, but more care and detail into these plot threads would've certainly helped to bring the movie up a notch. It's a small-scale adventure that feels grounded and relatable, while still providing some interesting new lore for life-long Sonic fans to indulge into.

Rated 7 out of 10

Very Good - Bronze Award

Rated 7 out of 10
All in all, Sonic the Hedgehog provides a fun comedy, and action focused romp that'll be sure to please old fans and newcomers to the series. Though there are noticeable editing mistakes and one too many product placements, these are easy to overlook when the characters are as well written and entertaining as these. It's a fun, character-driven story, with plenty of obscure references for lifelong fans to pick up on, and an ending that promises a bright future to the series. While it may not be the most revolutionary movie of all time, it proves that video game adapted films can work, and work in strides this did.

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I finally saw this a few days ago... and have to admit it was far funnier than I expected. Plus, Jim Carrey is just a genius. He needs to go back to playing that wacky character more often.

Adam Riley [ Director :: Cubed3 ]

UNITE714: Weekly Prayers | Bible Verses

7.5/10 - Definitely fun to watch, and with the new redesign it works very, very well! Recommended, hoping it does well enough in box office performance for a sequel. I would LOVE to see that happen!

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