Sonic the Hedgehog review
If you were a child of the 1990's like I was, then you were well aware of the business competition between Nintendo and Sega. The video game industry was still new, and no one knew if this was going to last. I'll say now that I was a Nintendo kid, and I had always been the one to rent the latest Mario game or fighting over whose turn with the Super Nintendo. Because of this, I didn't get much of a chance to play with the Sega Genesis. If there was something I was familiar with, was their mascot Sonic the Hedgehog.
Even though Mario is a well established mascot and character of Nintendo, Sonic gained a lot of popularity for having a more developed personality. If Mario was the classical jazz character, then Sonic would be the punk rock character, as he was more cocky, confident, and more quick to action. This had allowed him to get several cartoons and a comic series, but there had been no attempt at a movie adaptation. I don't blame Sega as the track record for video game movies has been spotty as best. So let's see what a live action Sonic the Hedgehog can bring to the table.
Teenage Sonic the Hedgehog (played by Ben Schwartz) has been living in Green Hills, Montana ever since he was sent from his world to Earth as a child from his caregiver. He's filled his time with reading comics, playing games, and pretending he's a part of the family of local sheriff Tom Wachowski (played by James Marsden) and his wife Maddie (played by Tika Sumpter). He manages to remain low profile until he ends up running around at a speed so fast that he causes a major blackout, sending word for the US Government to respond.
They call upon a mad, but intelligent scientist Dr. Robotnik (played by Jim Carrey) to investigate with his machines. Sonic attempts to escape Earth using his precious rings, but is discovered by Tom and shot with a tranquilizer. This causes the rings to be teleported to San Francisco without Sonic and the hedgehog has no idea how to get there. Tom agrees to take him there and the two end up on a road trip. As Robotnik realizes what he's chasing, he becomes obsessed with getting Sonic's power. It's here where Sonic and Dr. Robotnik develop the classic hero/villain storyline famous from the video game.
As far as video game adaptations go, Sonic the Hedgehog was an enjoyable family film. Whether or not your going to like this movie depends on what your looking for. My guess is that given the updated design (which caused a slight uproar that got the movie delayed three months to redesign Sonic), most people are going to get what they expect. It's not a story within the world of Sonic and the game. It's rather Sonic on earth and going through a lot of family film tropes like the road trip, fish out of water, and learning about the importance of family. For most, including me, that was enough.
If there's something great I can say about Sonic the Hedgehog, it was made by people who understand the character and the potential it has. There are a lot of Easter eggs related to the game and they take a lot of advantage of the fact he's fast. They even try to explain why Sonic doesn’t just run to San Francisco, which I won't spoil. Having said that, the story can be kind of predictable if you've seen this kind of story before. Again, I think the personality of Sonic is what helps carry everything.
Ben Schwartz has the right voice for Sonic, giving him more of a teenage, naive persona that I think a lot of kids will relate to. James Marsden does fine as the human lead, but as I expected, Jim Carrey steels a lot of the movie. He's just as manic and hyper as he was in Ace Ventura or The Mask. Seeing him back on the big screen makes me realize how much I missed him as a regular presence within the movies.
I'll give this four Sonic rings out of five. It's obvious that if you don't like or care for Sonic the Hedgehog games, then this is not your movie. It may not have the expansive fantasy worlds a lot, but I think this movie makes the right steps for setting up future movies. Even on it's own, it's still likable enough that families will like it. Got to go fast and see this movie.