Cert – PG, Run-time – 2 hours 2 minutes, Director – Jeff Fowler
When Dr. Robotnik (Jim Carrey) returns to Earth, with newfound ally Knuckles (Idris Elba), Sonic (Ben Schwartz) must learn to team-up with fan Tails (Colleen O’Shaughnessey) to defeat the pair before his powers are stolen.
Back in the early stages of 2020 I gave the then recently-released Sonic The Hedgehog one star. Since then I’ve thought back to this review and consistently thought that I was too harsh on the film, at least in terms of the star rating. Having revisited it the night before watching the sequel I believe that while I’m not on board with the film it’s certainly not a one star affair. However, whilst watching Sonic The Hedgehog 2 there were times when my mind began to wonder whether I was right the first time around. Perhaps there was an unconscious cynical layer within that line of thought that simply wanted to have been ‘right’ instead of accepting a changing opinion or viewpoint. Yet, as the film progressed while, for me, it contained many of the same flaws as the first it eventually feels like something of an improvement.
We re-meet Sonic (Ben Schwartz) living a calm life in the small town of Green Hills, having settled in with police officer Tom (James Marsden) and wife Maddie (Tika Sumpter). However, when Dr. “Eggman” Robotnik “Jim Carrey) returns from the distant reaches of The Mushroom Planet, with super-punch echidna ally Knuckles (Idris Elba – who appears to frequently switch between British and American accents mid-sentence), the titular hedgehog finally has an, albeit seemingly impossible, way to prove himself as the hero he wants to be. Teaming up with fan Tails (Colleen O’Shaughnessey), who has been observing Sonic’s actions from some time, the pair need to find the all-power-giving Master Emerald before their rivals do, both wanting to destroy Sonic and, in the case of Robotnik, take his power.
It’s through this line that we begin to get three different strands running through the film, also viewing Tom and Maddie in Hawaii at the wedding of her sister (Natasha Rothwell) – still not a fan of Tom. With so much going on the film feels slight busy, yet it’s perhaps testament that the lengthy looking – at least for a film like this – two hour run-time isn’t really felt. The gags as a whole may not take off, many relying on having seen the first film or simply coming across as quite laboured and predictable, but the more the film goes on the less trying it becomes. Yes, the fact that characters narrate pretty much everything that is happening or has happened instead of allowing the film to just show events and have the audience simply understand from that is still present (alongside Sonic occasionally coming across as a non-fourth-wall-breaking, child-friendly Deadpool figure – the words “if I die don’t look in my closet” don’t quite feel right coming from him). Yes, there are some slightly outdated instances – Jim Carrey’s Eggman flosses, Carrey, the highlight of the first film, doesn’t quite seem as manic here and gives a slightly hammier performance. Yes, there’s a slightly odd dance battle set to Uptown Funk, after some pretty cool Russian dancing. But, as such elements die down in the build-up to the third act there’s a better flow to the film as a whole that’s easier to get on with.
During more action-based sequences where dialogue feels less key to what’s unfolding on screen, and not everything is pointed out, the film properly begins to feel as if it’s coming off the ground and picking up pace. Again, the third act contains some of the best stuff in the film, but unfortunately the big final battle comes into play a bit too late to properly turn things around. But, it does mean that the film as a whole does leave off on a good(ish), if slightly obvious, note, and perhaps creates some hope for the inevitable third film. Generally, while still somewhat flawed throughout, some of the issues with Sonic The Hedgehog 2 are shed throughout to create a slightly more even, less trying piece of work that while certainly not great appears to gradually find its strengths and footing in its more planned-through sequences.
An improvement on the first film, but still not great, Sonic The Hedgehog 2 has many of the same flaws that occasionally make for slightly tedious exchanges. However, when focusing on action, particularly in the third act, the flaws begin to shed to create something gradually more bearable, and even engaging.