When an anthropomorphic hedgehog called Sonic (Ben Schwartz) arrives on Earth from another dimension, he brings with him super-speed power and a collection of special gold rings that enable inter-dimensional travel.
His arrival to the small American town of Green Hills doesn’t go unnoticed. The US Government link Sonic to a crippling power outage and hunt him down with the help of scientist Ivo Robotnik (Jim Carrey) and his army of drones.
Green Hill sheriff Tom Wachowski (James Marden) befriends and helps Sonic seek his rings and evade capture. But Robotnik isn’t going to give up easily; he wants to harness Sonic’s dimensional speed powers, allowing him supremacy over all of Earth…
Sonic The Hedgehog went through a 3-month delay when the animators took to redesigning the animated model of our super-fast spiny mammal. But that is old news.
Fast-forward to 2020 and a more faithful interpretation of Sonic arrived for his big screen debut. At just under 90mins, this film is for young and old alike. Not a kids film, not an adult film – a nice balance of both. A family film. From the “real” Green Hill Zone where Baby Sonic is first introduced, to the chimes of golden rings, the drone design, the speed-boosts and introduction of the red shoes, this takes the lore from game to screen perfectly. Even composer Tom Holkenborg has plenty of musical riffs that fans will recognise. This has the heart of SEGA throughout, and all the better for it.
It falls to Ben Schwartz to voice Sonic and bring his zippy, youthful energy to life. While he conveys more humanity in Sonic than expected, he still finds time to be a “teenager” with cheeky attitude and plenty of pop culture quips about everyone from Obi-Wan Kenobi to Keanu Reeves. Schwartz doesn’t make Sonic irritating thankfully, and plays it cool throughout.
While Schwartz carries the energy of Sonic in his voice, James Marsden and Tika Sumpter as our human heroes don’t really get much evolution from being characters there for Sonic to bounce off. While Marsden is likeable enough and is having fun with things, it never really becomes anything more than what’s on the surface, and Stumper does even less and just there to move the plot from one crux to another. But again, as this is a kids / family film, it’s not going to be high on character development.
When Sonic and Tom hit the road finally to search for the golden rings that enable inter-dimensional travel, the fun cranks up. It’s not a Midnight Run or The Blue Brothers sort of road-tip, but one with plenty of visual gags and goofs including some explosive drone chases, amusing slow-motion fights and fluffy quills.
Jim Carrey, as moustache twirling villain Doctor Ivo Robotnik, is back to the style we’ve not seen since his mid-90s prime. Think ‘Ace Ventura’ and a hint of ‘The Mask’, and you have Robotnik. From his arrival on screen, his physical comedy is restrained from being slapstick, but his voice and aura is infectious – he’s clearly enjoying himself getting back into some over the top material. Older viewers will enjoy seeing and hearing Carrey on form, with his dastardly drone-toting villain has plenty of silly moments both on his own and with Sonic to amuse all.
With the always enjoyable slow-motion scenes (think X-Men: Days Of Future Past) and a fun soundtrack, this leap to the big screen has everything young and older audiences could ask for in a family-friendly adaptation. Its sickly sentiment is something we are used to now in these sort of films, with the morality of family, faith and self-belief ever-present, but there is lots of manic, flashy fun to be had along the way.
Stick around for two mid-credit sequences that once again do nothing but compliment the source material and fans, and set up a possible Sonic The Hedgehog 2.
Dir: Jeff Fowler
Scr: Pat Casey & Josh Miller
Cast: James Marsden, Jim Carrey, Tika Sumpter, Natasha Rothwell, Neal McDonough & Ben Schwartz
Prd: Neal H. Moritz, Toby Ascher, Toru Nakahara & Takeshi Ito
DOP: Stephen F. Windon
Music: Tom Holkenborg
Country: United States
Run time: 98 mins
Sonic The Hedgehog, debuting for Download and Keep on April 10th 2020 from Paramount Home Entertainment.