After some um—rather interesting internet ballyhoo, “Sonic the Hedgehog” is finally brought to the big screen in what is a shockingly good adaptation. Although I’d argue that the “video game movie curse” ended in 2018 (ahem–“Tomb Raider”), “Sonic the Hedgehog” does open the door for more, higher quality video game movies down the road. While I’d be hard pressed to say that “Sonic” re-invents the wheel, it also dodges a lot of video game movie pitfalls by side stepping cloying pop culture references, and paying homage to the source material.
Based on the hit video game series, Sonic the Hedgehog fled his home planet as a child and made Earth his home planet, remaining hidden thanks to his massive speed and cunning. As the blue speedster tries to navigate the complexities of life on Earth and deal with loneliness, he’s accidentally discovered by a local sheriff named Tom Wachowski. As Tom bonds with Sonic, they must soon join forces to prevent the evil government agent Dr. Robotnik and his army of robotic drones and machines from capturing Sonic and using the powers in his hair and magic golden rings for world domination.
Jeff Fowler has a big task ahead of him and he succeeds in providing a solid bit entertainment for what I’m sure Paramount hopes will become a massive franchise. “Sonic the Hedgehog” is aimed primarily for a new audience and generation, as it doesn’t so much aim for a trajectory of nostalgia, but putting Sonic in to a new dimension where he’ll be the hero of his series. Jeff Fowler and Paramount build a very serviceable amalgam of entertainment and action that invokes a lot of the classics like “ET” in interesting albeit vague shades here and there. The movie is dependent mainly on Sonic and his personality and thankfully he’s a fun and exciting hero with a great sense of humor and motivation.
Ben Schwartz is great as the new voice for Sonic, giving him a vulnerability that makes us root for him even more. The writers do a great job reconciling a lot of the classic “Sonic” plot devices, including his superpowers, his reason for being on Earth, and the absolute importance of the iconic golden rings. Jim Carrey offers a unique take on Dr. Robotnik/Egg Man, giving his typical Carrey flourishes of comedy and menace, while also never chewing the scenery too much. Carrey seems to have a great time while collecting an easy paycheck, and he plays beautifully off of the titular Hedgehog. I like the way Sonic’s universe is established and love where it all might go next. I’ll be surprised if we see Sonic’s human companions in the sequel should there be one, but we at least have what promises to be an exciting fantasy movie that pays big respect and adoration toward the iconic video game series.