Let’s talk about Sonic The Hedgehog.
The documentary of this film will probably be more interesting than the actual film. For those who aren’t aware, the first trailer for this movie was derided. That was for many things but the big thing was the design of Sonic. It was terrible, looking more like the knock-off toys you got back when Sonic was massive than the famous hedgehog himself. Usually though while the internet may be loud, it is way too late to do anything and the movie proceeds with the terrible design. Not this time. In a movie I’ve never seen before, the studio announced they were delaying the movie so they could re-design Sonic. It was insane, unprecedented and made a load of graphic designers cry into their pillows at the sheer amount of work they were going to have to do. That was of course before they cried again at being made redundant. But was it worth it?
Sonic The Hedgehog is hiding on Earth to make sure no one can steal his powers. But after causing a nationwide blackout, Dr. Robotnik is determined to capture him. But with the help of a local police officer, Sonic goes on a road trip to find his rings so he can escape to another planet.
Now, let’s get this straight. This movie is no classic and I don’t there’s an attempt to be a classic. It’s more of an old fashioned straight to the point kids film, note, kids film not family film. That means to adults it is often way too hyperactive and Sonic can be an irritating character. The damned thing flosses at multiple moments in the film and that did give me a headache. But while modern cinema has tended to lean to giving us family films rather than kids films, probably inspired by Pixar’s amazing ability to appeal to everyone, there is a need for fun films that kids can just go nuts too without that much emotional depth. Look, adults have our daft action films where there’s blood and guts for no reason other than it looks cool, kids need the same sort of thing. And that’s exactly the sort of wheelhouse this film is in.
And when its in its wheelhouse, it excels. Mind the pun, but the film is very fast-paced and doesn’t tend to slow down which is ideal for the children out there with the attention span of a gnat. All the characters are painted in broad brush strokes which means we don’t get nuanced character work but no one is a drag and slows things down, meaning we can get to the fun of the story quicker. The one character that is a drag gets tied up and forgotten about pretty quickly so the film knows what its doing. And the script knows its for kids, instead of trying to make a load of sly jokes for the adults in the audience, it just has simple but effective humour which will get laughs. At least, it did in the cinema I was in.
And a lot of that is down to Sonic. The design change was a godsend because it now looks far more like the video game which one, means there’s more of a connection because of the love many of us have for that character and two, it’s an endearing look which will not give you nightmares like the original one. I remember seeing a back-to-back of the original Sonic trailer and the Cats trailer which caused me to need therapy for a few months. But overall the character is endearing if a little annoying at times. He’s amusing, hyperactive and even when he is annoying, you feel like his heart is in the right place. They have modelled Sonic around a seven-year-old child, which will probably make it appeal to that exact same target audience, and for the most part it lands on the right side of endearing.
But the most fun you’ll have in this movie is Jim Carrey who is a delight. Playing the villainous Dr. Robotnik, they have obviously just told him to go nuts and he happily obliged. Carrey is at his best when he has a manic energy and is just having as much fun as possible and that is the case here. He steals every scene he is in, he gets all the best lines and is just an absolute delight to watch. You look forward to every scene he is in. And while I’m on this, I’m happy to see a completely unrepentant villain for once. Robotnik knows he is evil and he is very happy that he is which is fun to watch. We live in an era where filmmakers try to make their villains relatable and for them to have an understandable cause which is great, it leads to interesting characters and conflicts. But I have missed the Tim Curry style insane villain who loves that they are evil and lives to destroy the hero. So this is a refreshing change.
Sonic the Hedgehog should have been one of the disasters of the year but it has ended up being a very pleasant surprise. This is not a brilliant film, it doesn’t do much original and often its jokes can end up being rather cringe-worthy and annoying, but it is a fun diversion for kids. It’s quick-paced, has some pretty decent action scenes and has a series of fun performances which mean your kid won’t get bored watching. Considering the first time we glimpsed this film it gave us the creeps, it’s such a big surprise to see it turn out well. So cook up your finest chilli dogs and speed down to the cinema!