The film review below is taken from my review of the digital release of Sonic the Hedgehog. Watching it again was great fun and my initial positive review still stands. This review adds an audio/visual section for the Blu-ray release.
It’s pretty crazy that one of the best video game to movie adaptations came from a game that’s pretty much about a blue hedgehog that runs incredibly fast, collects rings and crashes through robots with his body, but here we are! Sonic the Hedgehog is a fast-paced, often laugh-out-loud funny flick that’s entertaining regardless of if you’re a fan of the video games or are someone who just wants to escape reality for 90-minutes and have a good time.
Before I delve any further into the movie itself, major kudos have to be given to Paramount studios for listening to the fans after the backlash they received upon releasing their initial trailer for the film. Back in April of last year Paramount released the first trailer for the Sonic film and reactions were…well, loud. For the most part I believe that social media is a place where people just like to complain because they can, and even if something is good there will be people who complain about it. That being said, the terrified tweets and remarks of just about everyone on planet Earth coming together in unison to voice their disdain upon seeing the original design of Sonic – which, let’s face it, was flat out creepy – is something that couldn’t be denied.
But in a case where it wouldn’t have been surprising for the studio to just write it off as the Internet being the Internet and simply moving forward with their original design, Paramount listened to the fans and actually went back and redesigned Sonic from scratch. Six months later they dropped an updated trailer, and this time it was clear they nailed it. Instead of having a muscular, more boy-like body, with human teeth and eyes that just missed the mark, Sonic was now much more reminiscent of his video game self in every sense, from his big, round, emotional-filled eyes to his white gloves and big red sneakers.
Paramount listened to fans and fans returned that kindness by showing up and making Sonic the second highest-grossing film of 2020 – which definitely wouldn’t have been the case had they just left things the way they were. This new Sonic is adorable, and his story of being isolated because he’s different and wanting to have a true friend is something that almost everyone can relate with in one way or another. There’s no distracting, creepy hedgehog features taking away from the movie; there’s just this cute blue alien hedgehog that you just want to give a hug.
The film’s premise is simple: Sonic fled from those who wished to do him harm on his homeworld and found refuge on Earth, or more specifically, the quiet town of Green Hills, Montana. Here he observes various residents in their day to day lives, specifically the local Sheriff, Tom Wachowski (James Marsden.) But all this watching from afar causes Sonic to feel quite alone from time to time, and one night while he’s playing baseball alone it becomes too much and he explodes in a giant burst of speed that blows out the power along the Pacific Northwest.
With the cause of the outage being unknown to authorities, the government decides to send in roboticist and super genius Dr. Robotnik (Jim Carrey) to find out what happened. Being a brilliant scientist it doesn’t take Robotnik long to learn of Sonic’s existence, which forces Sonic to reveal himself to Tom, resulting in the two taking a road trip to San Francisco.
Wait, that sounds a bit out of nowhere in this context. The reason they have to go to San Francisco is because Sonic has a bag of rings that he’s only supposed to use in emergencies. These rings will allow him to travel anywhere in the universe, he simply needs to think of it, toss the ring into the air and then leap through it. The problem is that when he revealed himself to Tom the bag of rings kinda fell through a portal to San Francisco and now they have to go find them so Sonic can escape before he’s captured by Robotnik.
Now, as I finish writing all that I realize that the ring thing kind of makes the simple premise a little less simple because it’s kind of a whole thing to get into; however, having the rings be this important to Sonic was a pretty smart way to include arguably the main things that Sonic games are known for, you know, besides the speed thing. Aside from that, Sonic the Hedgehog is a pretty by the numbers good versus evil flick. It doesn’t try to rewrite the book and while I’m sure it could’ve done a few more original things, I honestly don’t think it needed to.
You see, what makes Sonic the Hedgehog work is that you just like Sonic. You feel bad for him that he’s lonely, and you want to see him succeed in making a friend. Sometimes that’s all you really need from a movie, and here Director Jeff Fowler and screenwriters Pat Casey and Josh Miller succeed in making Sonic an extremely likeable character that is wonderfully voiced and brought to life by Ben Schwartz. Schwartz just knocks one-liners out of the park at lightning speed here, and he’s able to jump from Sonic being witty and fun-loving, to really giving Sonic some depth with an array of emotions that help spark the character’s powers in ways Sonic wasn’t even aware of.
Marsden is also great, as he’s acting alongside a CGI hedgehog, so his job of getting the audience invested in Sonic’s quest is equally as important as Schwartz making Sonic likeable. If the chemistry between Tom and Sonic wasn’t there, then this would be a really easy movie to zone out of, as they’re the driving force of the entertaining – albeit predictable – story. Luckily, their chemistry is strong and they’re a blast to watch together on screen. In fact, I almost wish the two had more time on the road together, but sometimes it is better to leave them wanting more.
Carrey was also the perfect choice for Robotnik. Like Tom and Sonic, Robotnik had to be played by someone invested in making this movie enjoyable, as with the wrong people in these parts it’d be easy to imagine the whole thing crumbling, much like the straight-to-DVD live-action Woody Woodpecker fiasco. Carrey goes old-school and just lets loose as the evil genius, and while he’s completely over-the-top and in the zone, he also doesn’t chew the scenery or make the scene all about him. This is a team effort, and everyone clearly had a great time on set making this a reality.
So if you’re looking for a 90-minute break from the everyday, then definitely check out Sonic the Hedgehog. It’s a movie that doesn’t try to be more than it needs to be, and is a perfect example of keeping it simple working out for the better. It’s your classic good guy vs bad guy story that’s filled with heart, a solid amount of action and plenty of laughs.
The film looks spectacular in this Blu-ray release. This is such a vibrant movie that doesn’t shy away from explosions and loads of colours and all burst out beautifully at all times. It looked great digitally, and looks even better here. The film’s visuals are crisp, and while Sonic is a CGI leading character, he never looks out of place or added into the scenes, which is incredibly important in movies that mix live actors with CGI characters.
The movie also sounds fantastic in Dolby Atmos. Crank up that surround sound and enjoy as they delivered the goods here. This is a movie that doesn’t really slow down and if the audio fell short then the movie would suffer because of it. Luckily, Paramount nailed it on all fronts when it came to the technical side of this release, once again proving that they were willing to go the extra mile to make sure Sonic fans were satisfied with the end product.
There are 40-minutes of special features to be found here. Unfortunately there wasn’t a feature that looked into the revamping of Sonic after the initial trailer was released. While I kind of get Paramount wanting to move on, it still would’ve been cool to get a behind-the-scenes look at the team coming together to make the fix across the board.
Around the World in 80 Seconds – This is a brief animated doodle comic that sees Sonic run around the world while talking about his quick adventure thanks to the voicing talents of Schwartz.
Deleted Scenes and a Gag Reel.
“Speed Me Up” Music Video
For the Love of Sonic – This is a featurette where the cast and crew talk about what Sonic means to them.
Building Robotnik with Jim Carrey – This featuette focuses on Carrey bringing Sonic’s arch-nemesis to life.
The Blue Blur: Origins of Sonic — which delves into the history of Sonic.
Sonic on Set – Here we see Schwartz in a quick behind-the-scenes video on how he brought Sonic to life.
Paramount Pictures Presents Sonic the Hedgehog. Directed by: Jeff Fowler. Written by: Pat Casey, Josh Miller. Starring: Ben Schwartz, James Marsden, Jim Carrey, Tika Sumpter, Adam Pally. Running time: 99 Minutes. Rating: PG. Blu-ray Release: May 19, 2020.
Tags: Adam Pally, Ben Schwartz, James Marsden, Jim Carrey, Sonic the Hedgehog, Tika Sumpter