Sonic the Hedgehog

FAMILY NIGHT AT THE MOVIE | By Christopher Hill –

Movies based on video games have a long and illustrious history. Not one to be proud of, however. Most of the films take a one-dimensional character, place them in a three-dimensional world and handicap the potential with a one-dimensional script. It is expected that these movies are destined for Razzies (the industries anti-academy awards).

Sonic the Hedgehog is based on a nearly forty-year-old franchise. The cuddly blue hedgehog was almost completely responsible for saving the Sega game system. At the time, Mario and Nintendo were dominating the console wars. Sonic may not have reversed the trend, as Nintendo remained a monster, but it did provide Sega with a substantial footprint in the industry.

In 2013 Sony Pictures purchased the film rights to the character, and after many years in development, the film was set to release in November of last year. That was not to be as months before the release, their initial trailer was met with concern and utter disdain from the very vocal fan-boy squadron that is endeared to the franchise. The movie was pulled, and the graphics representing Sonic redesigned to bring him closer to his game appearance.

With two strikes against it, the movie is running uphill. Luckily, they didn’t work too much on world-building and instead focused on a straightforward, linear script. James Marsden plays Sherriff Tom Wachowski, a small-town law enforcement officer dreaming of working in the big city. Ben Schwartz is the voice and motion capture of Sonic, another world alien unique to the planet that can achieve unheard-of speeds and wants to be part of a family. Jim Carrey is Dr. Robotnik, an over the top cartoon bad guy – even with his own Snidely Whiplash mustache.

Tika Sumpter, James Marsden and Sonic (Ben Schwartz) in Sonic The Hedgehog from Paramount Pictures and Sega.

Sonic, distraught about being alone, goes so fast that he knocks power systems offline. This action alerts the government who engage Dr. Robotnik to find the culprit. Sonic runs into the Sheriff, and the chase begins. That’s all you need to know. It is a straightforward story to follow with very few twists and turns to the end battle and resolution.

But is it good? That answer is much more complicated than the simplicity of the question would indicate. It depends on who is being asked the question. Watching the film, I was accompanied by my middle teenager and my pre-teen youngest. At my advanced age, I was concerned that my generally jaded opinion of the genre would bias the review.

For me, the film was okay. There were humorous parts, but the writing wasn’t particularly bright. Even Jim Carrey seemed unable to give joy to his role, and playing an over the top mad man is really in his wheelhouse. Thankfully, other than the intro, they did not try to world build too much and kept it pretty simple.

The girls both enjoyed it more. They especially liked Sonic and would have liked to see more interaction with the Sheriff’s young niece and Sonic. Sony may have missed the boat by having adults traveling with and against Sonic and not having a child going with them that kids could identify more with. However, don’t worry. As an annoying trend continues, they are already trying to set up a second film before the results of the first one. With the stumbles Sony had out of the gate, this may not have been the best strategy.

Kids will enjoy this more than adults, although it not without its charm. While the dialogue isn’t especially clever, it is not painfully bad. Similar to Angry Birds 1, the film is okay when compared against the other films in the industry, but if you compare it with its video game translation genre, it’s a step above . . . although that’s not a compliment.

Sonic the Hedgehog

Now Showing: In Theaters February 14th

Rated: PG

Violence: Mostly cartoon level of violence, a potential loss of life is off-screen

Language: Nothing of note

Sexuality: None