After the surprise success of “Sonic the Hedgehog” it’s fun to see our blue hero get his due after so many years. While the series isn’t quite perfect, once it hits its highs, it’s fun, funny, and filled with some well directed action. For the follow up the natural progression is the introduction of Sonic’s famed video game sidekick Tails, along with their classic video game nemesis Knuckles. While “Sonic 2” is a great follow up, it has a severe problem with its human characters.
After settling in Green Hills, Sonic is eager to prove that he has what it takes to be a true hero. His test comes when Dr. Robotnik returns with a new partner, Knuckles (Idris Elba), a mysterious warrior from another dimension in search of a mystical emerald that has the power to destroy civilizations. Sonic teams up with his new, eager sidekick, Tails, and together they embark on a globe-trotting journey to find the emerald before it falls into the hands of Dr. Robotnik who has plans for its powers.
“Sonic the Hedgehog 2” keeps so much of the spirit of the first film alive, while also fully embracing what makes the games so great. There’s still Green Hills, and a major plot point about Sonic’s obvious vulnerability to water. Much like in the games, Sonic can’t move too quick, and the writers devise a great way to bring the bubble device to the big screen. Along with that, Sonic is as fun as ever, a great hero who is anxious to use his powers to help people, but hasn’t quite mastered them yet. Ben Schwartz reprises the role of Sonic with much fanfare, as he’s as charismatic in the role as ever. Long time voice behind Tails, Colleen O’Shaughnessey, works wonderfully off of Schwartz while lending some fun winks and nods to the video game series.
Idris Elba also has a good time in the role of anti-hero Knuckles (Knuckles’ reading of a text message aloud is hilarious), a mysterious warrior who is convinced Sonic is an enemy. Robitnik is able to step in for his own motives and reaches for power. Jim Carrey is great as the villainous Robotnik, dialing his comedy up to eleven and keeping up with the film’s brisk pacing. As for the film’s supporting human heroes, the writers never quite know what to do with them. At almost two hours, the writers spend too much side characters that have zero effect on the film’s resolution. Mid-way the movie slaps on a sub-plot that has literally nothing to do with Sonic and Tails’ (or even Knuckles’) journey.
The movie literally goes off the rails focusing on Shemar Moore and Natasha Ratwell’s characters, for some reason. All momentum for this aside that is just painfully out of place, and unfunny. This small side plot could have easily been cut out and nothing would have been lost. In all honesty, the writers even have a hard time figuring out what to do with original heroes Tom and Maddie (James Marsden and Tika Sumpter). I imagine the producers will at some point minimize their roles once Sonic’s cast expands, but I wish more they’d give them more interesting and exciting tasks in helping Sonic fulfill his destiny as hero.
Perhaps even bring them in to Sonic’s home world? “Sonic 2” despite being overlong, is really entertaining and exciting once it focuses mainly on our trio of otherworldly heroes. “Sonic the Hedgehog 2” is a flawed follow up but a great ride for the kids that packs in enough Easter eggs and references to the original Sega games to keep nineties kids satisfied.