If there’s one thing that I need to say before kicking things off, it’s this- bringing a video game character to the big screen is not an easy task. History has proved this time and time again, with both Super Mario Bros: The Movie and Street Fighter: The Movie being the butt of jokes online since the birth of message boards. Sonic was the very first video game character I came to recognize and he’s become a huge part of my life.
I sped through Sonic 3 & Knuckles for the billionth time before making my way to the cinema with a (surprisingly) non-reluctant valentine to see the blue blur on opening day. After all, is said and done I understand that sacrifices had to be made to bring my favorite character to a big screen and (arguably) a bigger audience. It’s an inevitable step, and while it would be easy for me to be angry at (insert very small detail here)…I set that aside as soon as I stepped into the auditorium. I took the same approach that I’ve been taking when experiencing most of Sonic’s new games over the past decade…what would my younger self have thought?
Sonic the Hedgehog hits the ground running, introducing the hero and villain within seconds as Sonic (voiced by Ben Schwartz) is chased through a gorgeous cityscape by the maniacal Dr.Robotnik (played by Jim Carrey). Much like the opening of Deadpool, the action is then paused to reflect on the events leading up to this point in the story, which is where most of the screen time is spent.
There’s a non-canonical backstory as to why Sonic’s zooming along in real-world locations that I won’t spoil. What I will say is that the representation of Sonic’s fantastical homeworld was beautifully done, complete with the loop-de-loops and crumbling platforms that have been staples of the franchise for almost thirty years.
It’s not long until we’re caught up with the hedgehog’s antics in the real world. He’s portrayed as a lone entity on the outside looking in after being warned about his powers and the fact that someone will always be in pursuit of them. It isn’t long until he crosses paths with the small-town sheriff (James Marsden) he’s been shadowing for years. The two become a duo and soon find themselves on the run from the egocentric Robotnik; who wants nothing more than to catch and dissect our beloved hero to fuel his hi-tech toys.
The plot progression, character dynamics, and the aforementioned one-liners were more or less what I expected to see and hear. What makes this movie one of the better game-to-film adaptations is just how well the canonical characters are handled, as well as the subtle nods to the games that the hawk-eyed fan should be able to spot and appreciate.
Schwartz makes for a truly persuading Sonic, directing the joyful, carefree nature that the character has been known for. While the lines can be somewhat predictable (I knew there was going to be a fart joke involving chili dogs…and guess what? There was one about a quarter of the way through)…this is still the same character I’ve known and loved for over 20 years with minimal alterations to his design or personality. Carrey does an equally impressive job of being the franchise’s iconic supervillain; although he’s perhaps a bit more egotistical than I would have expected. As for the game references…I’ll be leaving it up to you guys to spot them for yourself. You won’t be disappointed…especially if you decide to stick around for the credits sequence and especially the post-credits.
When Sonic the Hedgehog came to a close, I was genuinely surprised. The extra time spent in development shows here. The seven-year-old me would have been perfectly content with the jokes and plot progression. Yet the adult me was pleased with the presentation of my favorite character and the numerous references to the franchise were woven in…and even my significant other got a few laughs. At the time of writing, the film has garnered a 7/10 on IMDB, a 64% on Rotten Tomatoes and a 4/5 from Common Sense Media– making it the highest-rated game to movie adaptation to date. It’s safe to say that this is yet another step in the right direction for SEGA and their most well-known franchise…let’s just hope this streak continues.
Anime Pad gives it…… 5/5