DISCLAIMER: There may be spoilers but I’ve tried to avoid this as much as possible.
2ND DISCLAIMER: This is my first movie review so please be nice. Pretty please? 🥺
Valentines Day 2020 was a memorable date for many. People would have had dates with their loved ones (myself included), children would have been conceived (yeah, I went there), plenty of alcohol consumed and, oh yeah, the Sonic movie was released in cinemas in the U.K.
Shockingly to many people and none more so than myself, I did not see the movie until about a month later and just before lockdown started here. Even then it was at the end of 2 weeks off of work so there really was no excuse. And I call myself a Sonic fanboy…
Back on topic. What really matters is was the film worthy of being a part of this legendary franchise or should it be put in the rubbish bin along with pretty much every other video game movie?
I’m going to split this into a few categories, give each of them a rating and calculate a total and final verdict from these.
The film revolves around Sonic being transported to Earth and avoiding the clutches of the maniacal yet scientific genius (in other words mad scientist but it wouldn’t be Sonic if it wasn’t the case) Dr Robotnik. Bonus points for calling him that and not Dr Eggman.
Sonic travels across America with his new human best friend in order to escape Robotnik’s clutches and get to safety.
So basically the film is Sonic vs Robotnik so points there for focusing on that. Although it doesn’t feel like a Sonic game to me, other touches in the plot made it feel like Sonic to me – I.e. the emphasis on speed and Sonic being cheeky as we see in other media such as Adventures of Sonic the Hedgehog (best Sonic cartoon by the way 😉).
There are other Sonic staples present: rings, Robotnik’s machines and chilli dogs.
The story itself does feel different to Sonic games, but that may also be why it’s a movie and not a game. It takes Sonic elements and puts them into a story which would not work as a game but works as a movie plot (for example one scene in a drinking establishment). It still feels like Sonic without being the Sonic media we’re used to.
Plot Rating: 9/10
Firstly can I please praise the producers etc for choosing Jim Carrey for the role of Dr Robotnik? It’s an inspired decision and he fits the role perfectly. He catches Robotnik’s extreme self confidence, quirkiness and short temper along with giving him that egotistical quirkiness and humour we’ve come to expect of the character. Brilliant acting from Carrey. Even if he is a thin Robotnik but this is made up for with his moustache.
Ben Schwartz who voices Sonic gives the character the adorableness (I know, it’s not a word) that you get from a fuzzy blue hedgehog while making sure he has the attitude we all know and love. Similarly, James Marsden is stellar in his role as Tom, aka Donut Lord, who teams up with Sonic in the film and helps him out in his quest.
The acting as a whole in the film is on par with what one would expect for a top film (which the income generated highly hints at).
The characters act smoothly and do not seem wooden, stuff or awkward at all. The connection between the characters flows smoothly and feels natural, as if they were living normal lives outside of a movie. That’s what makes the acting in this movie so good in my opinion – it feels real although there is the expected (and to be honest necessary) awkwardness between Sonic and humans at first. I mean if a blue hedgehog who speaks English suddenly appeared and starting talking to you wouldn’t you feel awkward talking to it?
Acting Rating: 9/10
Absolutely loved the music, I’ll be blunt. To the point that I may have actually ordered a CD of the OST to listen to at home. Of course part of this is because I’m a Sonic fan but also because the film’s score was epic.
There is one point at the film that has easily the best, and most distinguishable melody, and the only disappointing thing is that there isn’t more like it in the film.
What is there otherwise is still amazing and very fitting of a creature who can run circles round others at the speed of sound. Some of it I have, and you may well too, listen to over and over again for the feels, it is really that good and nostalgic.
Music Rating: 8/10
The film opens up in a location which any Sonic, heck gaming, fan most likely knows within a second – Green Hill Zone. Even in the trailers with it you could a) tell it was Green Hill and b) it felt like Green Hill due to the loop and coloured groundwork.
The town in which the film is based, Green Hills, looks like almost any American settlement you’d see in an American TV series. But that’s what you want – it distinguishes it from the Green Hill Zone and shows the massive differences between the two areas. The way the town is set up also gives you the feeling that it is taking place in an everyday American urban area and not one especially designed for a film.
The film heads to many other locations, some admittedly are quirky but again this is to deliberately distinguish it from Green Hills and other locations such as San Francisco. Even then they clearly give off a sense of isolation as they were intended to and show how much detail went into them.
The locations overall look amazing, give off different atmospheres but ones which completely portray the aura they were supposed to and draw your eyes to them.
Locations Rating: 8/10
Let’s be frank here: Sonic the Hedgehog is not only choc a bloc full of references, it is amazing how deep into Sonic lore they go for said references.
One of (if not my overall) favourite references is right at the start of the film and relates to a previously mentioned locations – the town of Green Hills. Straight away people are drawn to the name and the Green Hill Zone, and referencing one of the most known gaming locations like that is typical of the film and the references it holds. But what you may not know is it goes much deeper than that. Green Hills itself is also a separate zone in the Sonic Franchise – appearing in the 8-bit version of Sonic 2 and is clearly a reference to the Green Hill Zone and carrying on the tradition of ‘Hill’ zones appearing in early Sonic games. This zone itself is more of a reference than that even but that’s for another article.
A classic reference and one I’ve seen elsewhere (but I can’t remember where sorry) is a road in the film being named ‘Mega Drive’. They could not miss this opportunity and allows the console on which Sonic made his debut to appear in his film (Genesis for any North Americans).
Two more references of interest relate to real people. Firstly, one of the current main voice actors in the games makes a cameo appearance with their in game voice. The second relates to Gary Chalk who appears as a military officer. You may not know the name but he is known for voicing Dr. Robotnik in the Sonic Underground cartoon and more so for me personally, Grounder in the Adventures of Sonic the Hedgehog cartoon.
Other references include mentions of the Hill Top Zone from Sonic 2 on the Mega Drive and even of franchises outside Sonic with The Flash comics making an appearance.
These are just some of the references in the film but there are many more and if you want to see what I mean, just look for Sonic Movie Easter Eggs on YouTube. It feels only right that they included these references and acknowledged Sonic’s past and in particular his heyday. The fact they also reference outside of the games is also a neat touch as is the variety of ways they placed Easter Eggs in the film. There may be a lot but they all work and bring on a strong feeling of nostalgia.
References Rating: 10/10
Sonic the Hedgehog is amazing. I may be a Sonic fan and so could be accused of bias (and maybe I am a bit but the film makes me feel all nostalgic and I can’t help it…).
Seriously though, the film is a love letter to Sonic fans of all ages by being a funny film that smacks you with nostalgia of the franchise. On top of that the plot actually works and makes sense. I think the fact that they delayed the film to alter his look shows how seriously Paramount took the project and it shows.
I’ve seen it said that it is the best video game based film of all time and I think the viewings and opening weekend takings prove it. The fact it did even better than the highly anticipated Detective Pikachu movie says a lot, especially as more people would recognise and associate with Pikachu (thanks Pokémon Go…)
If you are a Sonic fan or even just a fan of video games then you need to see this film; and if you played the old 2D games in your bedroom in the 1990s, then at times during the film you may well find yourself again with tears of joy running down your eyes. This movie is clearly for kids new to Sonic and adults who grew up with the Blue Blur.
One question though: is this the only film ever where the actor/voice actor of the main/title character is not mentioned on the case of the film? 🤨
Overall Rating: 8.8/10 – Must Watch
All credit to the cast and crew, Paramount Pictures, Sega, Sonic Team and Sega Sammy Group. All registered rights and trademarks belong to the previously mentioned parties they are associated with. There is no financial intentions behind this article, just to share my love of Sonic the Hedgehog.
Thanks for reading 😊