and feel more authentic to the game series. Someone get Sonic a map, please
(Enlarge The film’s robot designs are just about it for non-Sonic CGI, and they’re nothing to shout about.
Instead, we get roughly four laugh-out-loud references to the game series (including at least one awesome meme), bolted onto a plot that comes saddled with a few cockamamie jumps in logic. For starters, the film opens with a very odd Sonic origin story: he was raised on a magical island … by a mysterious talking owl named Littlefoot. (No, you won’t find this owl in any other existing Sonic media.) This brief hedgehog-and-owl sequence honestly looks ripped out of the tragic (Sonic) video game, and the only nice thing I have to say about it is that it’s brief.
From there, Sonic is ordered to use his magic bag of rings to warp from one universe to the next any time someone sees him using his super-fast speed. (Why must he always hide, as opposed to employing his powers for good? We never get a good answer.) This changes when he lands on Earth — more specifically, a small town in Montana — and begins creepily stalking a cop named Tom ( played by James Marsden of
Sonic’s loneliness gets the better of him, and he breaks out of his hiding hole to ask for Tom’s help. What does Sonic need? Why, a ride to the other side of the United States, where his bag of rings accidentally wound up. When asked why he does insta-run there himself, especially in an emergency, sonic complains that he does not have a map. I mean, the film
could have sewn that logic up by giving Sonic a leg cramp, a vitamin deficiency, or
something . But it’s not that kind of movie.
The film pits Tom and Sonic, who become pals during this road trip, against Robotnik, a US Government-sponsored researcher who apparently gets hired to clear up CIA-grade emergencies. The film’s best quality is its focus on these three stars, as opposed to a bloated and unwieldy cast of family-comedy characters. Marsden is particularly nimble at walking the delicate line between being Sonic’s disciplinarian and his pal — and delivering
just Enough tension before letting Sonic go ahead with his wackiest antics. Sadly, the supporting cast mostly fails at its role of providing comic relief, with the exception of Carrey’s right-hand man, a bumbling agent played by Lee Majdoub ( (The) . But Marsden and Schwarz are nowhere near the sweetness, comedy, and coming-of-age payoff we got from the leads of Pokemon: Detective Pikachu
, a film that also runs circles around Sonic’s CGI department. PDP crammed its scenes with dozens of impeccably rendered animal-monster things, while Sonic, this film’s sole CGI star, comes with some really otherworldly, awkward-looking rendering of fur and light bounces. More than a few times, I noticed strange reflections off of Sonic’s beady nose, which made me wonder whether this film could’ve used one more rendering pass. And the VFX people did make up for this with their designs of Robotnik’s flying drone supporters; It’s all generic, laser-shooting robots from that half of the equation. (To be fair, their probably probably lie elsewhere, and I don’t blame them.)
I’m glad Sonic had enough of its parts in place to get me through a viewing feeling entertained. But the only thing that would get me to recommend this film over other family-friendly options is, honestly, Jim Carrey’s performance. Nothing else in
Sonic the Hedgehog feels particularly exciting, even within its specific niche of a clear “PG, not PG – 029 rating.