Director: Jeff Fowler
Writers: Patrick Casey and Josh Miller
Starring: James Marsden, Ben Schwartz, Jim Carrey
After a small-town police officer (Marsden) discovers that a small, blue and very fast talking blue hedgehog that originally came from another world named Sonic (Schwartz) has been living innhis town for a while, the two of them must join forces to try to and get Sonic off earth to escape the clutches from Dr Ivo Robotnik (Carrey) who wants to capture him and use Sonic’s unique powers for his own gains.
The respective film and gaming industries have always had a strange relationship when it comes to crossovers; A vast majority of film adaptions of games tend to be rubbish, while shameless tie-in games that are direct versions of films (though far less frequent than in the 90s when it seemed that every film was turned into a platform game) tend to be even worse. These days a lot of the biggest games are extremely cinematic, and there has only ever been increasing evidence that these two industries should just leave each other alone (I speak here of film, not necessarily TV), but yet the film industry will try to find the next big money franchise, and adapting a video game makes sense as there is already an established fanbase, and a lot of the storytelling can just be a copy and paste job.
However, Sonic the Hedgehog is certainly not as far as I am aware anywhere near one of the biggest games franchises (like it was in the 90s), so it does seem slightly strange that the Hollywood machine has waited the best part of two decades to do a live action feature length film version. Especially considering Sonic’s supposed rival over at Nintendo at the time got a film in 1993, albeit an absolutely abysmal one – Bob Hoskins and Dennis Hopper, what were you thinking? Well, with seemingly no demand whatsoever, here it is, and I am pleased to say that it is better than Super Mario Bros. – just.
It has of course been well documented just how much uproar the initial trailers caused when they showed the original CGI sonic, and unlike Cats, this has thankfully been fixed. So, with that initial problem seemingly sorted the premise itself of Sonic’s debut live action adventure on the big screen is a promising one; it is basically a buddy movie in which the two seemingly very different protagonists go on a road trip, with some CGI-heavy action set pieces on the way as they are pursued by a snarling, cantankerous bad guy with a minimal backstory and an even less justified reason to pursue them.
There are certainly some good bits; There are some very enjoyable and well put together action sequences, some fun bits of the protagonists impromptu road trip (such as a scene in a bar very reminiscent of Quicksilver in a couple of the recent X-Men films) and some decent performances. Though it is certainly not a role that is by any means the biggest test of his acting career, James Marsden as very likeable, while Ben Schwartz does a solid job voicing Sonic and captures very well his enthusiasm, naivety and energy. Naturally the star of the show is of course Jim Carrey (that was probably contractual), and he gives a predictably over the top performance as Dr. Robotnik that certainly injects plenty of energy in every scene that he turns up in, and is very enjoyable to watch – even if the laughs may be more AT than WITH.
However, the main issue that really lets Sonic the Hedgehog down is the script; both the dialogue and the overall plot just sadly miss the mark and fail to take anywhere near as much advantage of the film’s potential as they could have done. Though with a film of this nature certain liberties can be taken with logic, the script just contains way too many huge, glaring plot holes that just need to be ironed out slightly better when the film is supposed to be set in the real world; Sonic’s backstory, the development of the film’s villain and the overall role of the Government are all very badly done to the point of extreme laziness. The dialogue too is somewhat lacking, with attempts at humour not always working, the relationship between the two protagonists sometimes feeling a little forced and an often over reliance on excessive exposition.
However, what is most disappointing is the film fails to capitalise on the rich backstory of Sonic. There is the occasional Easter egg to please fans of an older generation, but nowhere near as many as there could have been included that would have still not detracted from the attempts to appeal to the current younger audience. At one point in the film Sonic refers to one of Ronotnik’s flying creations as ‘flying eggs’, and from that point on every character refers to Robotnik as Dr Eggman, surely the writers could have tried a little bit harder?!?
As the plot develops in an extremely predictable way Sonic the Hedgehog is certainly never anything less than watchable but is undoubtedly never as thrilling or as much fun as it really should be. This waste of potential is summed up by the film’s closing credits in which we are treated to the film replayed via 16bit graphics, which is quite possible the best part of the film.
Thanks mainly to some decent action sequences and good performances, Sonic the Hedgehog is certainly never anything less than watchable, but due to a very weak script that fails to take full advantage of potential offered by the abundance of source material, it never gains any kind of true momentum.