It’s been a long time coming – ever since the 1990’s brought us the first Hollywood game-to-film adaption with “Super Mario Bros” (1993), it was clear that their biggest rivals wouldn’t be far behind. In actual fact, the biggest rival to Nintendo’s mushroom stomping plumber in 1993 was Sega speedy blue hedgehog, Sonic the Hedgehog. Nobody knew that it would take 27 years for somebody to manage to get Sonic into a film. With writing by Pat Casey and Josh Miller, this 2020 film is directed by Jeff Fowler. It stars James Marsden as Sheriff Tom, Tika Sumpter as his wife Maddie, Jim Carrey as Dr. Robotnik, and the voice of Ben Schwartz bringing Sonic the hedgehog to life.
The film acts as an origin story and is set up like various popular superhero films which have been released between 2015-2020. The action starts, then there is a freeze frame while the titular hero suggests a flashback to how it all started. At this point we see where Sonic comes from, how he ended up on Earth, and what he’s been doing to survive. An event occurs which means that he has to come out of the shadows, at which point he strikes up a friendship with Sheriff Tom. They both get hunted by Dr. Robotnik and go on a journey of discovery while trying to survive.
When I sat down to watch this film, I expected it to be a lot worse than it turned out to be. I knew there would be loads of CGI, I mean how else is a computer game character going to be brought to life? I just didn’t hate the film like I expected to, even though the plot was absolutely predictable form start to finish. Maybe I was expecting the worst because I had seen the pre-release version of Sonic that had been leaked – the one with a weird face and scary teeth. Boy am I happy that the CGI and animation department went back to the drawing board on that one. It’s not often fan backlash makes a studio rethink things as dramatically as happened with this film, but I am glad that it did, and if they can do that, then I can fore myself to sit in front of this regardless of any preconceptions I had.
The acting was OK, like other parts of the film I had low expectations for this too. I feared it would be a cheesy and ham fest but I think James Marsden does a good job as a counter balance between the Sonic character, and the over-the-top acting of James Carey’s Dr. Robotnik. In fact, the interactions between an animated character and the real actors worked quite well throughout, there were not many times that goofs occurred with hands in the wrong place or animation cells overlapping actors. There were one or two minor things that I spotted, but unless you go looking for it you aren’t going to be let down too much. One goof I will mentioned, which is not directly because of animation or actors is to do with the car chase. One minute the road is wet, the next it is dry. Then when the car needs to skid it is wet, but a long shot shows it as dry again.
Visually the film looks good, the early scenes on Sonic’s home-world look authentic, and newer concepts that the film brings to the audience later in the film seem to fit good too. I was really happy with the musical score, in particularly I liked how it used the sound from the original Sega version of the Sonic game. In places it was as I remembered, and in other places it had been used as inspiration with new beats sandwiched around it. It worked.
Although the plot was totally predictable this still turned out to be a fun family film. It had action and humour in it; there was a pantomime villain in Jim Carey; and there was a lovable rogue of a hero in it in the form of a smart-talking, dance-flossing, speedy blue hedgehog too. The world in which this was set was fun and appealing. There was tongue-in-cheek humour in it that poked fun at itself, TV shows, and other games (it even poked fun at the Mario universe game and 1991 film too! How’s that for console rivalry from the 90’s!!). Expect to see a sequel within a year or two based on the strength of this and the expanse of source material available – as if the appearance of Miles Two-Tails at he end of the film isn’t enough of a clue.
Despite expecting to hate this film I actually enjoyed it and would happily recommend this to fans of the game, and families with young kids too.