Video games have done a better job than movies of incorporating what works in the film industry into their own work. Roger Ebert received a lot of criticism for stating that he did not believe any video game could ever be considered art. Whether he was correct or not, when it comes to telling a story, video game companies continue to look toward the cinema, which is why the immensely successful Sonic the Hedgehog film franchise from Sega has now launched its second feature about an alien with superhuman speed.
Sonic is a household name, with 31 appearances in games and spin-offs, t-shirts and birthday party decorations featuring his image, and a LEGO figure and plush doll. He was also the first video game character to be a balloon in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.
Sonic does not have additional features beyond speed and perseverance, nor a story above and beyond the basic goal. In the games, he defeats several obstacles to steal Dr. Ivo Robotnik’s power emeralds with the help of his closest friend Tails (Colleen O’Shaughnessey), a two-tailed fox who is a gadget prodigy. Sonic also gets some portal-opening rings from his deceased mentor and teacher, Longclaw the owl.
Movies require more character, dialogue, and plot than video games. As a result, additional human characters and stories have been added, and Sonic (voiced by Ben Schwartz) has been given a personality. He now lives with Tom the “Donut Lord” (James Marsden) and Maddie (Tika Sumpter), whose relationship with him is approximately one-quarter friendship and three-quarters parental following the events of the first film.
Dr. Robotnik (Jim Carrey, sporting a much busier mustache than a pair of football shoulder pads) was sent to a mushroom world at the conclusion of the first film for attempting to harness Sonic as a power source, but he is resurrected on earth by someone else seeking for Sonic, an echidna called Knuckles (Idris Elba), who packs a punch.
In the games, Robotnik and Sonic are on the run for an all-powerful emerald. Meanwhile, Stone, Robotnik’s lackey (Lee Majdoub), is running a coffee shop while waiting to get back to doing evil deeds. I’d want to look up some Yelp reviews before going to anyplace called The Mean Bean, but in order for Stone to have privacy and rebuild it into an ultra-high-tech base of operations, people must be scared off with an F rating from the Board of Health.
Meanwhile, Sonic has sent Tom and Maddie to Hawaii via a gold portal ring for Rachel’s wedding, which will be held on the island of Oahu (a wonderful Natasha Rothwell).
Nothing particularly inventive about it. The film’s numerous references to other movies are not intended as criticism or homage; rather, they’re just winking at the audience: “Yes, we know we’re ripping off ideas from better films.” It is overly plotted, with three different stories mixing comedy and adventure. Even though Adam Pally is always fantastic, the coffee shop section should have been avoided. There’s a lot of bloodshed for a movie targeted towards younger children, including a frightening big robot and several explosions.
There’s enough, however, to keep children and adults moderately entertained. Sonic is a loyal and forgiving buddy who may cause a ruckus when his “parents” are away but quickly cleans things up before they return. There’s also an amusing dance-off. It also has the timeless hit about peeing in a bucket. There’s no real damage even with all of the explosions.
Jim Carrey is more silly than frightening in this last picture, and as animated characters have gotten evermore exaggerated and hyperbolic, his elastic limbs and constantly changing facial expressions have kept up. The way Robotik describes the mushroom planet as a “portobello purgatory” or refers to a “truculent space bumpkin” has a delicious relish about it.
“It’s Tricky” by Run-DMC, “This Is How We Do It” by Salt-N-Pepa, and “I’m Not in Love” by 10cc are among the songs that will make your parents nostalgic for their middle school days. Andy Williams and Norah Jones also make appearances on the soundtrack. Rothwell is a joy to watch, especially when she doesn’t get her way and has a backpack full of gadgets but no idea what any of them do. The film’s emphasis on kindness and friendship over violence and bitterness will appeal to all generations. (NOTE: Stay for the credits to see an extra scene.)
Now playing in theaters and on the Cinema HD app v2
Sonic the Hedgehog 2 (2022)
Ben Schwartz as Sonic the Hedgehog (voice)
Idris Elba as Knuckles the Echidna (voice)
Colleen O’Shaughnessey as Miles ‘Tails’ Prower (voice)
Jim Carrey as Dr. Ivo Robotnik
James Marsden as Tom Wachowski
Tika Sumpter as Maddie Wachowski
Natasha Rothwell as Rachel
Shemar Moore as Randall
Adam Pally as Wade Whipple
Writer (story by)
Movie Rating: 3.75/5