By midlandsmovies, Feb 21 2020 10:31AM
Sonic The Hedgehog (2020) Dir. Jeff Fowler
In his theatrical directorial debut, American filmmaker Jeff Fowler, takes on the challenge of a live-action adaptation of one of the world’s most beloved video game characters, Sonic the Hedgehog.
The film opens with Sonic (Ben Schwartz), our blue hero, needing a quick escape from his home planet. His mentor, Longclaw, has encouraged the young hedgehog to hide his supersonic speed but he hasn’t listened. This has led to him being hunted by a tribe of Echidnas (some form of masked, dreadlocked anteaters). To avoid the tribe Longclaw provides Sonic with a bag of golden rings that allow him to transport to other worlds when in danger. Of course, this ultimately leads to Sonic ending up on Earth, alone.
10 years later and Sonic has managed to keep hidden from the people of Green Hills, Montana, until one day his loneliness gets the better of him and he makes a mistake that reveals him to the world. The U.S government then enlists the help of the evil Dr Robotnik (Jim Carrey) in order to capture him. Tom Wachowski (James Marsden), the town sheriff discovers Sonic hiding out in his shed and agrees to help him escape Earth. To do this they must travel to San Francisco together to retrieve Sonic’s bag of golden rings.
It is very apparent throughout this film that it was made with a lot of affection and care for the character and his story. The film is full of small Easter eggs that will surely please fans of the franchise. After the first look trailer for this film was unveiled, there was outcry online over the, frankly terrifying, more close to real life interpretation of the character. Thankfully, the look of Sonic was altered to a more cartoonish style, much more fitting with the tone of the film. The care for the film is refreshing in a world of video game adaptations with next to no consideration for the original source material (see Super Mario Bros. (1993) for a clear example of this).
However, despite the love of the creators, this film never really gets past the word ‘generic’. Everything about the narrative, the jokes, the character arcs is all completely predictable. I found myself guessing the gags before the dialogue had even been spoken. This doesn’t mean the film isn’t fun to a point but I would have liked to see a more innovative take on a live-action video game adaptation. This lack of innovation presents itself wholly in an action scene in a bar that seems to have taken rather a large influence from the Quicksilver fight sequence in X Men: Days of Future Past (2014).
Another issue I had with the narrative was that I couldn’t get over the fact that Sonic could simply run to San Francisco in a fraction of the time the road trip takes, rather than sit in the passenger seat of a 4x4 with a human slowing him down. Of course, sometimes in films aimed at younger audiences you’re forced to take leaps, so maybe I’ll have to let that one pass.
Despite my gripes with the film, I didn’t hate it. I thought the performances added a lot. Jim Carrey as Robotnik unsurprisingly bought a lot of his animated energy to the role, which suits itself well with this type of film. Another standout was Ben Schwartz as Sonic, he bought the same snarky teen attitude that the character has always possessed in video games over the years. His chemistry with James Marsden also worked well, emphasising the reoccurring theme of friendship and making it all the more believable.
Ultimately, Sonic the Hedgehog doesn’t break the curse of video game big screen adaptations however it ticks all of the generic boxes for an easily watchable family film. It doesn’t stretch for anything beyond mediocrity with it’s run of the mill jokes and narrative. However, I’m sure it’s easily quotable dialogue and colourful storytelling will resonate well with younger audiences.