Movie Review: Sonic the Hedgehog3rd March 2020
Growing up in a Nintendo household surely had its benefits. For one I was indoctrinated into the incredible world of the Nintendo GameCube, a console I had for fifteen years of my life until I sold it so I could go out for drinks. The hours I lost as a kid to that console will always hold a special place in my heart, and although I was a Nintendo kid through and through, I did of course dabble in the dark side of SEGA counterparts. Sonic the Hedgehog, the latest adaptation of beloved gaming icons, was a bit of a terrifying experience then, something that would look to shoehorn nostalgia into every crack it could find and pry at the older audience’s sense of sanity and at the plucky idiots of the younger generation.
Truly surprising then is that Sonic the Hedgehog is actually alright. For what it is, a kids film, it’s exactly what I’d expected and hoped for. Maybe hoped for isn’t the correct phrase, since all I was hoping for was a braindead hour and a half with a handful of set pieces to make time fly. Time sure flies when you’re having fun, and that’s exactly what I received from Sonic the Hedgehog. The blue ball of fur hasn’t been the most successful in his videogame counterparts, so the leap to the big screen which stars Jim Carrey and James Marsden seemed like a huge risk to take. I was one of the many that mocked the initial announcement of Sonic the Hedgehog, writing it off as nothing more than another horrible video game adaptation. I now find myself with egg on my face.
Speaking of egg, the Eggman himself appears in the form of one returning Jim Carrey. For the past few years, Carrey’s work ethic and ability to appear funny has diminished tremendously. With the release of Jim and Andy: The Great Beyond, it seemed like Carrey was all set to live on the highs of reminiscent documentaries. It’s nice to see him back where he belongs though, and his role as Doctor Robotnik is an oddly hilarious return to form. There are times where it feels the performance falls into self-parody, a rekindling of The Mask and Ace Ventura glory days all conforming into one clearly enjoyable performance. A decent enough script helps along the way as well, with some comfortably knock out stuff dotted about the plot of Sonic the Hedgehog.
It’s a shame then that most of the comedy doesn’t in fact come from our titular character. He’s not unlikeable, and the voice acting from Ben Schwartz is enjoyable. The writing throughout this part of the film though isn’t up to scratch, becoming serviceable at best and shadowed entirely by the sheer energy Carrey brings to his role. Hijacking the film somewhat, his performance takes away from the solid work presented by James Marsden, whose brief chemistry with Sonic is just enough to stop the film slipping into boring territory.
Sonic the Hedgehog is exactly what a kids film should be. It does play it a little too safe at times, but the strong performances and engaging animation will pay off and make this a feasibly enjoyable time. A plot that standardises just about every cliché you can imagine, yet one that can be forgiven since it handles a somewhat beloved franchise held dear to the hearts of, I assume, tens of people globally. Generally good stuff on the whole though, an absolutely harmless yet totally enjoyable film for pretty much every audience. Not bad for a directing debut, especially since it could’ve been a catastrophic nightmare.