Chilidogs, Chaos Emeralds, and lots of video game action. Sonic is back on the big screen.
Robot technology threatens to destroy the world again and it's up to the iconic blue hedgehog, Sonic to save the day once more. That's the most basic summary of what this film franchise adaptation of Sega's video game series is about. However, unlike the original, this sequel adds a few more cards to the deck, namely a certain yellow two-tailed fox and a red echidna that are being thrown into the mix. Picking up after the events of the first movie, in Sonic the Hedgehog 2, the blue blur must learn what it truly means to be a hero. Seeing a successful Sonic the Hedgehog product today is a bit like seeing a unicorn - it's a rare occurrence. But, the first movie proved that there was still hope for the famous hedgehog, yet how much momentum is there really left in this series before the novelty of it wears off?
The first film was a positive surprise given the seedy reputation of adapted video game films, but now that Sega's mascot has already been established in film form, it's hard to be more innovative than throwing in more of the same. In this case, that's perfectly fine; the film knows exactly what it wants to be, and for those who just want to see beloved Sonic characters poke fun at each other, there's a lot to be gained here in terms of fanservice. The film's greatest asset is, of course, Idris Elba's primitive Knuckles, whose serious warrior spirit contrasts Sonic's light-heartedness and balances out the childish movie humour. Tails, played by the original voice actor, is also a charming new addition, and although Jim Carrey is once again delightfully flamboyant as Dr. Robotnik, it's the animated characters that engage best. Maybe it's time to ditch the other human characters and just make an animated Sonic movie instead?
For a film about a speedy hedgehog, it's an unusually mature film. I appreciate the expansion of the Sonic lore here, but towards the second act the story slows down and basically slams its brakes when after a Hawaiian wedding, suddenly transitions to a hunt for a Chaos Emerald. The film forgets for a moment that Sonic exists and it all turns into a children's movie (which it is, but in this particular sequence it becomes more obvious) when the director gets around to rounding up an irrelevant love story. The biggest culprit in the drama is still the editor, who was most likely Sonic himself. This makes for a silly story that I don't think I've seen in a while, where many fast-paced scenes felt jerky rather than interwoven and many action scenes feel downright disorienting in their chaos. It probably also comes as no surprise that the story lacks substance, but unlike the enduring friendship cliché of the first film, it gets a little too messy as Sonic has to accept his responsibilities while also finding his place with his human family.
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The humour aimed at children doesn't always mesh with the rest either, and some of the adults in the audience will probably yawn here and there, especially when a Serbian dance duel (?) suddenly breaks out. Despite this - and some unexpectedly flat effects - the third act works surprisingly well and the heart of its predecessor is clearly still there. It just didn't need to be so long, which has become an increasingly common problem for blockbuster films of this kind, and at least 30 minutes could have been cut. However, those who loved the first film will be a little more forgiving here and will most likely enjoy Ben Schwartz's cheeky portrayal of the character once again. Ah, and don't miss the obligatory post-credits scene either if you're keen for another cameo from this franchise...