Sonic the Hedgehog cracked the video game movie code. Sega has always been in competition with Nintendo. Sonic the Hedgehog was created in Japan to be the Super Mario Bros. of their video game company. Sonic became just as iconic with his superspeed and cool demeanor. I’ve played the side-scrolling original, but my brother is the one who played more games and watched all the animated shows. Sonic became so popular that a live-action movie couldn’t come fast enough. The 90’s would’ve been too soon, but the movie didn’t become a reality until 2020. Though I wouldn’t call myself a superfan, even I knew how awful the original design looked. The initial trailer featured a truly ugly Sonic with freaky humanoid legs, small eyes, white hands, and awkward proportions. Rather than ignore the immense fan criticism, Paramount actually delayed the movie just to re-animated the lead character. It’s a good thing Valentine’s Day 2020 was pre-Pandemic, because the change made Sonic the Hedgehog the best video game movie made at the time.
It’s a low bar, but I wasn’t really a fan of Detective Pikachu. The key was actually treating the lore with respect. Even memes are acknowledged. Sonic is high energy and fun-loving thanks to Ben Schwartz. Although he never had an owl mentor named Longclaw in the games, incorporating the golden rings into the story was a clever idea. Sonic uses the rings to portal to various locations. Most of his time is spent alone in Green Hills, Montana. Normally I hate the fish out of water angle in movies like this, but this was a rare time where I actually liked the original human characters. James Marsden is bizarrely typecast as a CGI animal’s human sidekick. Tom Wachowski is a small town sheriff who dreams of bigger and better things in Los Angeles. Tom is married to veterinarian Maddie played by Tika Sumpter. Most of her time is spent with her disapproving sister Rachel and niece Jojo. Sonic longs for friendship, but he inadvertently draws attention by causing an EMP. So the U.S. Government calls in his longtime archenemy Dr. Robotnik.
Jim Carrey seemed miscast, because Eggman is literally egg shaped with a bald head and long bushy mustache. Yet somehow Robotnik ended up being Carrey’s funniest role in a long time. He’s having a blast pressing buttons and dancing to “Where Evil Grows.” He plays off his lowly coffee brewing assistant Agent Stone well, but I think there’s too much of a rivalry between him and Tom. When Sonic loses his rings, the superfast hedgehog takes a slow-moving road trip with Tom to recover them. Along the way recreating the Quicksilver scene from Days of Future Past at a diner and quickly dispatching of Robotnik’s drones on the road. Callbacks include Sonic eating a chilli dog, getting his signature red shoes, and calling Robotnik Eggman because of his egg shaped drones. The climax is a fast paced race between Sonic and Robotnik using his quill to increase his speed. In the end, the power of friendship wins the day. After an out of nowhere Olive Garden tie-in and a pixelated credits sequence, Robotnik is revealed on a mushroom planet with his video game accurate design. Followed by a fan pleasing appearance of Tails (more on him later). Sonic the Hedgehog learned from it’s mistakes before even being released.
Followed by: Sonic the Hedgehog 2