Well, after a surprisingly long and troubling process, Sonic The Hedgehog is finally in theaters. This has been one of the more odd VFX stories in this past year, which says something considering was sandwiched between the releases of Cats and The Call of the Wild. In a way, it was definitely going to overshadow the actual release to an extent, but it was ultimately the best choice for the project, because the new, more game-accurate design is fantastic and fits the tone of the film better than the original, more scary design did. Speaking of the film, it’s a blast, an earnest and fun kids movie that is goofy and entertaining while also not being condescending to its target audience.
Sonic the Hedgehog (voiced by Ben Schwartz) is a hedgehog with superspeed who, after he and his parental figure are attacked, is sent to Earth for safety and makes a secret living around the small town of Green Hills, Montana. However, when he accidentally causes a blackout, a government team led by Dr. Ivo Robotnik (Jim Carrey) shows up with intent to catch and kill him. With the help of town sheriff Tom Wachowski (James Marsden), Sonic heads to San Francisco in order to find a way off-planet, with Robotnik following their every move.
The biggest strength of Sonic The Hedgehog is undoubtedly its cast. Schwartz is pitch-perfect as Sonic, going full motormouth at points and absolutely killing it in the process. Marsden is a solid straight man to Sonic’s antics as well, just playing an all-around good dude who is doing his best, which is a good fit for his energy. Tika Sumpter, Adam Pally, and Lee Majdoub also do memorable work filling out the supporting cast, but in the end, it’s all Jim Carrey’s show. Arguably the best thing this movie has done has caused a resurgence of appreciation for Jim Carrey’s talents, and the movie gives him plenty to work with. He is having an absolute ball playing Robotnik, with a mid-movie dance scene in particular showing off why he has been sorely missed.
Also, to my surprise it’s… decently directed? Usually when a director is making their debut with a $95 million budget I’m expecting the worst, but Jeff Fowler does an admirable job here. There’s the occasional editing mishap and oddly-framed shot, but it’s technically rather sound – the integration of the effects are solid, and the action is very well-done, with the highway chase in particular being a highlight.
It does fall victim to some of the traps usually found in live-action family films – the humor is a mixed bag, with some of the pop-culture reference laden script working and some of it falling flat. It’s structurally very much in the buddy road-trip book, which can be very distracting if it’s something one is familiar with. And while the film’s breakneck pace fits with its title character, it does make for an exhausting 99 minutes at points.
But overall, the movie definitely succeeds more than it fails. The closest point of comparison I can think of for the movie is 2017’s Monster Trucks, another Paramount-released would-be blockbuster that was roundly mocked before release, but ended up being a very earnest good time. Time will tell if Sonic The Hedgehog becomes a hit or not, but I hope it finds its audience, because this movie is a great time and we could always use some more of those.