Sonic The Hedgehog Moves at a Safe Family-Friendly Speed

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Sonic The Hedgehog Moves at a Safe Family-Friendly Speed

If you’re still looking for the first great film adaptation of a video game, I regret to inform you that Sonic the Hedgehog is not it. While the title character certainly looks far better than his horrifying first iteration, the overall film fits neatly into a safe buddy, road-trip comedy that kids can enjoy with a recognizable video game mascot being silly. While some video game properties have started to lean into their weirdness like Pokemon: Detective Pikachu and The Angry Birds Movie, Jeff Fowler‘s adaptation works to be as palatable as possible, and on that level, it works. There’s nothing offensively bad or outlandish about Sonic, but it’s a movie that rarely takes any chances either, and you’re left wondering what was so captivating about this character in the first place.

Sonic the Hedgehog (voiced by Ben Schwartz) comes from a dimension that heavily resembles his popular 1991 video game, but when masked bad guys come after him because of his super speed ability, he uses his magic rings to jump to a new world. Ten years later, he’s been hiding out on Earth, specifically in Green Hills, Montana. When Sonic accidentally causes an energy surge from his speed, he gets on the radar of the government and the nefarious Dr. Robotnik (Jim Carrey). Sonic goes to the home of a local cop, Tom (James Marsden), but accidentally opens a portal that causes his rings to land on top of a building in San Francisco. Sonic and Tom must make their way from Green Hills to San Francisco while avoiding Robotnik and his powerful drone technology.

The opening minutes of Sonic are the most promising when the Paramount logo is surrounded by rings, the music plays a variation on the Green Hill Zone from the games, and we’re taken into the checker-box, loop-de-loop world of Sonic’s home. And then less than five minutes in, the film abandons that world to take us to Small Town, USA. Understandably, there are budget limitations and the budget went into Sonic (and probably cost more when he had to be redesigned to be cuddly instead of grotesque). But moving the action to our world makes Sonic less interesting. The character becomes more mundane and trapped by our conveniences (He likes comic books! He has a beanbag chair!) rather than the weirdness of his video game where woodland creatures are trapped in robots and power-ups are stashed in computer monitors.

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To be fair, translating a 90s platformer to a feature-length film is exceptionally tough, and no studio wants to repeat the mistakes of the Super Mario Bros. movie. But Sonic the Hedgehog swings too far in the other director so that it’s major accomplishment is adequacy. Sonic is funny and cute. His arc is that being on the run has made him lonely, so his friendship with Tom is important. They’re a mismatched pair who learn to care for each other. And as far as PG family films go, that’s good enough. The kids at my screening were very much on board, and parents should feel comfortable watching this picture with their little ones.

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Sonic The Hedgehog Moves at a Safe Family-Friendly Speed

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