Let’s talk about Sonic the Hedgehog 2.
The first Sonic the Hedgehog film was a very pleasant surprise. It had a tumultuous production cycle, mostly because of a hasty re-design of the main character following a much criticised poster, and was a video game movie of a franchise which has been flagging for a long time. It should have been rubbish. And yet, we ended up with something very likable. Sonic the Hedgehog wasn’t exactly original or brilliant, but it was entertaining during its runtime and is something you can easily see being in the repeat cycle of an energetic child. With that film perhaps not making as much money as it deserved to, it was released in February 2020 so it was interrupted by a little thing called a pandemic, it now gets a sequel to make some money with.
Sonic is desperate to be a hero after the events of the first movie. He soon gets his moment though with Dr Robotnik returns from his exile on the mushroom planet and alongside him is Knuckles the Echnida who is determined to kill Sonic.
So this film isn’t the most original thing in the world as it follows sequel archetypes you have seen in a load of movies similar to this. Sonic is on a high after the first movie because he has defeated his nemesis and everything seems fine. But then of course, Robotnik comes back and Sonic is very cocky thinking that he’ll be able to get rid of him very soon. But then Robotnik has brought Knuckles along and in the classic sequel way, the new villain beats the hero and so the protagonist has to go and learn some new skills so he can come back and defeat the bad guy! It is very paint by numbers in terms of sequels as this sort of plot has been seen a million times before. It’s actually very reminiscent of early superhero movies when they needed to get a new villain to actually show they can win after the initial lessons learned by the hero in the original. For kids, this will be fine but for adults, it’s a bit bleh.
But it still remains very likable. It would be very easy to make Sonic, a hyperactive pop culture spouting loudmouth, very unlikable. In fact, that is a problem that Sega have had themselves in the video games. But they really toe that line once again in this movie. Sonic does get close to that irritating cockiness which has ruined him in the games in his latter years, but there’s enough earnestness about him which fits him into the child role that the movie wants for him. Then we have the addition of Tales, Sonic’s most iconic companion. Again, the innocent precociousness Tails has the games can be very irritating. And to be honest, the line is overstepped on a few occasions here. But on the whole, Tails is quite likable and you understand quickly why Sonic and Tails form a bond.
But the highlight is not any of the main heroes, it’s the villain. Jim Carrey returns as Robotnik and he is just the greatest thing in this movie. If he follows through on retiring from the profession after this movie, it would be a huge shame as I want to see him in this role for the rest of time. Right now, villains are always in someway justified. They never think they are the bad guy and it’s their actions which make them into villains. It’s the modern trend and it’s led to a lot of good movies. Carrey’s Robotnik is a throwback. He knows he is a villain and he enjoys being a villain. And Carrey decides to throw everything into this. He is so over the top he’s going over the walls and into the field next door. He chews all the scenery, spits it out and then chews it all over again. He is incredibly entertaining in this role and you do miss him when he’s off screen because you know when he’s back on it you’ll be laughing or having a goofy grin on as he overacts like a cartoon character. Then tying him with Idris Elba who plays Knuckles completely straight makes him stand out even more. Then even Idris Elba is funny at times because of it. Just a great pair of villains.
And with this being a sequel, the movie really takes the time to make sure the fans of the franchise are well served. At first it seems like other than adding Knuckles and Tails in, the film is going to pay lip service to the franchise. After all, we know at this point when they put some classic music as a phone ringtone, that tends to be the throw them a bone fan service so they can get on doing very different things. But then the closer we get towards the end of the movie and we see the film makers are actually delving into Sonic lore. Yes people who haven’t played Sonic since the Mega Drive there is Sonic lore and only some of it revolves around Big the Cat (who is not actually a cat). But this leads to a really fun conclusion which only has a bit of a deus ex machina, though I suppose it won’t be one for Sonic fans who’ll clock onto what’s going to happen, and makes it really feel like a Sonic game that has come to life on the big screen.
The only other weakness other the fact every story beat is as predictable as a match between are that the special effects are not the best. Because of the main characters being CGI and a lot of the action is also done on CGI, it really should be done better than it is here. It feels a lot cheaper than a lot of its counterparts and it does hurt certain scenes when something is very obviously fake. I believe this film might be the first blockbuster that has been completely produced during the pandemic. As in, the initial work on it started during the pandemic, all of its funding and budget hence was decided during the pandemic and then filming as well. This could mean the budget wasn’t as big as they may have wanted because with cinemas being in such doubt over the last two years they didn’t know how it was going to be released and so know what money they’d get back. So in a way, I understand. But it does make for a worse movie.
Sonic the Hedgehog 2 actually had pressure on it unlike the original because after the first film ended up being pretty decent, we expected this one to also be pretty good. And this is on level with that first movie. It is a fun adventure that will definitely entertain the kids, which let’s be honest is the main aim of the film, and also make the adults who decide to watch it with them pretty happy as well. It is a bit of a mad world that you can expect more from Sonic films than you can Sonic games at the moment but here we are.