Director: Jeff Fowler
Starring: Ben Schwartz, James Marsden, Tika Sumpter and Jim Carrey
If ever the power of social media and the Internet were in doubt, you only need to look at the frosty reception the first poster for Sonic the Hedgehog received when it debuted back in December 2018 followed by the almighty backlash that greeted April 2019’s first trailer. Sega’s star’s appearance was ridiculed globally prompting the film’s director, Jeff Fowler, to publicly acknowledge and reassure fans that Sonic’s appearance was a work in progress and that there was no need to panic.
Fast-forward some months and the new and improved prickly pace-setter has received a minor makeover and is ready and set to be unleashed into the world once again. It also helped that during the redesigning process the Cats trailer dropped to a less than purrfect reception, and the claws were well and truly out for that, taking some of the heat away from poor old Sonic.
Born with a very particular set of skills, a young Sonic (Schwartz) is forced to leave his home planet when his enemies murder his mentor and attempt to harness his energy. Escaping to Earth, he settles into the cosy surroundings of Green Hills, a picturesque, sleepy town in rural America. Determined to keep his presence a secret for his own safety, a lonely Sonic is desperate for friendship and slowly driving himself insane through the years of forced solitude.
When he inadvertently creates a sonic-boom, cutting electrical power for miles, he becomes a target once again. This time, it’s the might of the American military lead by the eccentric, yet brilliant, Dr. Robotnik (Carrey). As Sonic teams up with local cop Tom (Marsden), the pair form an unlikely friendship as they try to escape his villainous clutches.
Whilst it might not be the most original story, there’s a very definite charm running through proceedings kept on pace by a game cast, particularly Marsden and Carrey. Marsden’s natural charm makes him perfect for family films and Carrey is back on top form and as zany as ever. Extravagant and over-the-top, it’s a performance to make the kids laugh, but also reminds those of us old enough to remember Carrey’s spectacular introduction into movies of what a fine actor he is.
Ben Schwartz voices Sonic with playful gusto and successfully brings him to life with an emotional depth that might not have been expected. Sonic and Tom’s relationship is explored with humour and poignancy as Tom learns some valuable life lessons and discovers that there’s no place like home.
There are some clever nods to the original video game, particularly the opening sequence with its mountainous backdrops, and some fun set pieces including a car chase and a barroom brawl, but there’s nothing particularly special or memorable about any of them. The film runs out of breath every now and then as the tempo drops, but finds its second wind in the frenetic finale and a sequel is, of course, teased.
Stick around for a small scene during the credits.
Sonic the Hedgehog has sprinted into UK cinemas right now!