Cert – PG, Run-time – 1 hour 39 minutes, Director – Jeff Fowler
After loosing his teleportation rings Sonic the hedgehog (Ben Schwartz) must find his way to San Francisco to get them back before he’s captured by a drone-wielding inventor employed by the government (Jim Carrey)
“What if we were back in the 90s but also, simultaneously in hell”, This tweet very much sums up the largely negative reactions to the first trailer for the big-screen adaptation of one of Sega’s biggest titles and figureheads, Sonic The Hedgehog. Most of this outrage was directed towards the design of the titular alien. After all he looked nothing like the standard design that gamers have gotten to know so well since his first appearance back in 1991. Therefore the film found itself pushed back by almost two months so that the VFX could be altered and the appearance of the lead made to look more like that in the games. When the new trailers were released fans seemed to be happy, there was hope for the film.
The one thing that the response didn’t change towards was Jim Carrey as villain Dr. Robotnik, a government agent sent to capture Sonic after he causes a large power outage. It seemed that many people were looking forward to seeing Carrey not only back in a big role after so long, but also back to what appeared to be his usual chaotic self. There’s no denying that he was one of the major drawing factors of the film. He’s also undeniably the best thing about the film. His pure energy and general performance does its best to lift the heavy weight of an otherwise tired and severely lacking film.
It’s established early on that Sonic (Ben Schwartz) is an alien, having arrived on Earth through golden rings that act as portals to other places. When he’s hunted down on discovered for his intense speed he moves on to another place, after Earth he’s got one more place, a world with no life apart from the mushrooms that grow on it. However, it seems that things are going well in the quiet town of Green Hills. He observes day to day life in the town, binge-reads his collection of The Flash comics and looking in on the life of police officer Tom Wachowski (James Marsden), or as he’s known to Sonic ‘Doughnut Lord’, and his wife Maddie (Tika Sumpter), ‘Pretzel Lady’.
After years of going unnoticed – apart from the local branded ‘Crazy Carl’ who goes ignored when it comes to his sightings – Sonic is discovered by Tom. After being shot with a tranquillizer and noticing Tom’s San Francisco shirt Sonic’s rings fall through a portal and land on one of the city’s biggest buildings. It’s not long until the two find themselves embarking on a road-trip with Robotnik hot on their tails, being sent out to capture the suspected alien after he causes a mass power outage during a game of one-man baseball, where he plays all members of each team. In many ways this could be seen as a standard set-up for a film of this nature, especially a buddy film, which this very much falls under the category of. And it’s the base that everything else builds up from. Making for an overall standard and rather basic feature.
With a central figure known for the high speeds that he can reach this idea doesn’t really seem to have much done with it, only really for the sake of plot necessity – of which there are a number of elements that are there for the sake of coincidence. Surely this should be a character filled with spark and energy? Instead he just comes across as rather bland and two dimensional – as do most of the characters. The full extent of this shown in an early sequence where Sonic runs with a tortoise in his hands set to Queen’s Don’t Stop Me Now. Carrey truly does have a great deal of heavy-lifting to do, but unfortunately he’s not enough to carry the film out of the slow drudge that it is. In fact even kids, who are possibly the core audience for the film, might not have much to clinch onto over the course of the 99 minutes that the film is to be endured for.
There seems to be a complete void of humour, no jokes land and almost every single one has been used before in similar stories. Occasionally the film appears to call back to the likes of Alvin And The Chipmunks – with it’s quirky, out-of-place lead character – and even Hop (not just because of the James Marsden connection). In fact even during moments where Sonic’s speed is shown in comparison to everything that’s happening around him such instances simply feel as if they’re taken directly from Quicksilver in the X-Men films. The finished product simply feels lazy and lacking in any form of required energy or draw. The only feelings it creates are those resembling boredom (some parents may even find themselves dropping off) and even possible irritation. While the characters might be smiling and having a good time the feelings are far from shared by the audience. There’s a slight sense of hope during the opening sequence as we see Sonic rush through an island landscape identical to the ones that he’s known for speeding through in the iconic games, but all of this is dropped very early on as we land on Earth and the fact that this is yet another lacking tale of the talented CG outsider and his friend who’s striving for more sets in.
While the redesign might have helped make the title character look better, and Jim Carrey is a highlight, Sonic The Hedgehog ultimately crashes due to an intense lack of energy, stamina and originality.