Sega’s Sonic the Hedgehog is gearing up at the starting line for his first big-screen outing. It took a while and is marked with a minor controversy its makers and studio, Paramount, scrambled to correct. Not a sound way to begin, it doesn’t normally bode well for any release. And yet, if the film suffers at all over that faux pas, I didn’t notice and I don’t think audiences will either.
Based on the game (like I need to say it), Sonic the Hedgehog (Ben Schwartz) is the fastest being on his world and lives in peace until his mentor, Longclaw, has to send him away to escape a clan of marauding Echidnas. Longclaw sends Sonic to Earth through the power of a bagful of those shiny gold rings so that his powers won’t be exploited (good luck there).
Settling in the smalltown American Northwest, the spry rodent does the bare minimum to keep a low profile. He plays baseball by himself and antagonizes the town nut and playfully stalks a Sheriff’s Deputy (James Marsden). You can’t really blame him when he feels so alone having to hide (at least that’s what the writers want) but soon he will get all the attention he wants once his speed creates an electromagnetic pulse the government notices.
Who does the Pentagon send? Their top man, the only one they need: Dr. Ivo Robotnik (Jim Carrey).
Ben Schwartz does great as the titular speedster. His voice feels as spot-on as Jaleel White’s in the two 90’s cartoons and he has better material to work with.
James Marsden is the human character Sonic has to play off, Montana traffic cop Tom Wachowski (say the name the right way and you’ll catch the double entendre). Marsden appears to have a ball and displays solid comedic chops. He can be funny and three dimensional, surprisingly, as long as he isn’t Cyclops.
An Ace Ventura in the Hole
Sonic is a return to form for Jim Carrey, as in his manic energy that made him such a star in the first place. Not counting Kick-Ass, it’s his first major franchise picture, that I can recall since Batman Forever. Like Edward Nygma, Dr. Robotnik is a high-strung bad guy who believes and often is, the smartest guy in the room. And why wouldn’t he? He likes machines better than people anyway.
I’d get it if you think Carrey is in this solely to pick up a check but invariably he puts his all into Robotnik.
What Took So Long
Honestly, Sonic benefits from the delay to get the character design right. It not only shows they listened to fans but it created more of a distance between this feature and Detective Pikachu. Though it feels like I reviewed that yesterday, it’s been closer to a year since it came out which is ample breathing room for Sonic. The star Sega character should stand outside the Pokemon shadow.
You have to realize November was cluttered with big releases – several franchise flops, no less. Sonic would’ve had a harder time standing out.
Hollywood makes it harder than it has to be to adapt a video game. In the last few years, they’ve slowly started to slough off that stigma and – wouldn’t you know it – they’re seeing desirable box office returns for their trouble. Sonic the Hedgehog is fun for all ages and deserves to go in the lonely category of good video game movies. Don’t let it whiz by you at theaters.
- Correct design for Sonic and a good voice actor behind it
- Good turns from Marsden and Carrey
- Script flirts with cliches, signs of rewrites.