What’s the matter, you never seen an alien rodent fight a robot with a doctorate before? As someone who grew up in the 90s and early 2000s I certainly have, because I come from a time of peak sonic video games, so when there was a Sonic the Hedgehog film announced I was intrigued.
And then came the trailers. I don’t think there was anyone alive who was excited when they saw the first trailer for the film. The decision to make Sonic look realistic, rather than cartoony was widely condemned because it was just nightmare fuel. The animators were then forced to work an inordinate amount to completely change how Sonic looked in the film. What they settled on is far more cartoony character, but one that looks fantastic, and far more like Sonic. I think there’s a clear lesson that can be learned here, which is that not everything has to look as realistic as possible, going back to something like Who Framed Roger Rabbit that mix of live action and animation can be great, we don’t need to believe that Sonic is something that can actually be found in the real world. And all credit to the animators who managed to make that change, and really ended up saving the film.
And that is because the rest of the film was nowhere near as bad as it could have been. Story wise this looked like it could easily be a mess, as so many attempts to adapt video games are. Just look at films like Super Mario Bros and Assassin’s Creed. However what we actually got from writers Pat Casey and Josh Miller was a surprisingly sweet, if a little generic story about Sonic finding friendship and belonging on Earth. It’s nothing hugely new, but that is ok for a film that is aimed at kids.
Where the film really does fall down is that a lot of the comedy in the film misses. Jim Carrey’s Dr. Robotnik/Eggman is a big miss. He’s thankfully not as over the top as Carrey usually is, but he feels nothing like the maniacal and evil Robotnik from other Sonic media Instead he’s just kooky, but far less annoying than I feared. The biggest strength the film has is Ben Schwartz voicing Sonic. Whilst he isn’t often given the funniest material to work with, Schwartz gives such charming vocal performance that you have to love Sonic.
I was honestly shocked. I’d heard some horror stories about how bad Sonic the Hedgehog was, but in the end its just a perfectly fine kids with a touching story. And personally I am actually looking forward to what will inevitably come next.