We all know video game movies have had a rough road when it comes to both box office and critical success. The new film Sonic the Hedgehog’s path is not that different. When the first trailer was released many found the design of Sonic to be very off-putting. I was honestly more puzzled by the use of ‘Gangsta’s Paradise’ for no reason in a kids movie but I digress.
In an effort to placate the upset fans they decided to redesign Sonic and delay the films. This definitely got me curious and after having seen the finished film I’m glad they did. This new Sonic the Hedgehog is a charming throwback to the family films of the 90s that the whole family will enjoy.
The easiest film to compare with Sonic is last year’s Detective Pikachu, which I gave a mild recommendation for. Both films are about a human male who comes into contact with a fast talking, snarky video game sidekick. While Detective Pikachu has better atmosphere and world-building, I prefer Sonic the Hedgehog as a complete film.
A movie like this doesn’t reinvent the wheel but it executes a familiar concept well. In some ways lead actor James Marsden already did a very similar story with his 2011 film Hop. The big difference is in Hop the bunny is Russell Brand and his brand of comedy gets old quickly. In Sonic the Hedgehog we have James Marsden with a sidekick alien Sonic voiced by Ben Schwartz. He gives a lot of warmth to the character and with the new design it’s easy to root for the 2 misfits.
The other benefit Sonic the Hedgehog has over similarly themed films is a really fun villain named Doctor Robotnik played with theatricality by Jim Carrey. For instance, one of the problems with Detective Pikachu was the boring villain and plan. Here Jim Carrey is having a blast as a mustache twirling villain with gadgets and evil plans to spare. I am a little tired of villain surprise reveals so it is refreshing to have an outright bad guy in a film like this.
Sonic the Hedgehog is also a film clearly made for children. Aside from maybe one scene at a bar there weren’t any jokes intended at just parents or the kind of wink-wink scenes they hope go over kid’s heads (I hate that). Also at 99 minutes it doesn’t outstay it’s welcome. I appreciated that they did a really good job immersing Sonic into the world and the special effects felt believable and full of bright colors.
My only major problems with Sonic the Hedgehog came in some of the humor and overt product placement. Originally they had plans to have Sonic wearing Nike shoes but they at least got rid of that choice but there are multiple Olive Garden jokes and a very obvious plug for Zillow. I can put up with product placement that is tastefully done but if we pay $15 for a ticket to a movie we don’t expect to constantly see advertisements especially in movies for children.
Nevertheless, Sonic the Hedgehog is a cute movie that the whole family can go see and have a nice time together. It has a big heart and the character of Sonic is well rendered and voiced. It’s not a classic like Paddington but a pleasant little movie about friendship and never giving up. Enough for me.
There are also several bonus scenes in the credits so watch out for that.
7 out of 10