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What Went Wrong With… Sonic The Hedgehog (2020)?

A picture of a dead Sonic The Hedgehog surrounded by gold coins

Based on the video game of the same name, Sonic The Hedgehog is now a movie thanks to a bunch of money-hungry execs and a couple of film-makers with no imagination. I was always a Nintendo kid rather than a Sega kid so I’m not an expert on all things “Sonic” but whilst playing the game as a child, I don’t recall much of a plot. There wasn’t too much backstory (or any story at all)… Sonic was the good guy, Doctor Robotnik was the bad guy, Sonic was fast and he had to collect gold rings for some reason… hey, it was just a platform game. Well now, Sonic is apparently a hedgehog from another dimension, transported to Earth and helped by a human to navigate his new alien surroundings as an all-powerful bad guy tries to destroy him (Howard The Duck anyone?). Transported to a small town in the United States, Sonic (voiced by Ben Schwartz) hides out in a cave soaking-up human culture. He stalks the town sheriff (played by James Marsden) and hides under the Little League bleachers (not in a weird way) pretending to be part of society. Because of his speed, no one really sees this blue interdimensional hedgehog but the local Big-Foot-esque nut named Carl reports the sighting of a “Blue Devil”. After creating a power blackout in the Pacific North West (by running really, really fast and generating energy) the government deploys a tech-specialist named Doctor Robotnik (played by Jim Carrey) who with his drones and weak-willed lackeys, tries to harness Sonic’s power and/or destroy him. There’s also a needless plot about Sonic wanting to go to San Francisco to find his misplaced transportation rings whilst the cop who he’s been stalking wants to join the SFPD so cue the roadtrip!

Hollywood has a knack of badly adapting computer games into feature films. Just off the top of my head, we’ve had Angry Birds, Assassin’s Creed, Doom, Max Payne, Mortal Kombat, Need For Speed, Resident Evil, Street Fighter, Super Mario Bros., Tomb Raider… it’s like a list of the worst movies ever made (although I do have a soft-spot for the purposely cheesy B-movie Double Dragon). I’m not exactly a “gamer” but in terms of film, video game adaptations are generally appalling and unfortunately Sonic is now in this anti-pantheon of wank.

It seems that everything is fashioned into a film or TV show these days; a game, a toy, a comic, a book, a cartoon, it’s all available as a soulless and throwaway film, coming soon to a shit streaming service near you. Instead of making a console and reviving their once legendary company, Sega is now getting into the movie business instead. With Hasbro’s completely shite Transformers series (along with the utterly appalling Battleship) it looks like every toy manufacturer wants to profit from ruining late-millennials’ childhoods. Having a garbage Sonic alongside lacklustre Transformers and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles translations is like a hat-trick of late-’80s, early-’90s fuckery that you’ll want to avoid at all cost.

Written by Pat Casey and Josh Miller and directed by Jeff Fowler (all of which I’ve never heard of) Sonic The Hedgehog doesn’t excite or dazzle in any way, shape, or form. The action doesn’t impress, the comedy is lacking, and there’s no characters to really get behind. Surely a homeless hedgehog with no friends who’s a fan of the movie Speed, suffering from multiple personality disorder, wearing mismatched shoes and socks with holes in them, should be endearing? It isn’t. Doctor Robotnik is supposed to be “the smartest man on Earth” with “5 PhD’s” and “an IQ off the chart” but Jim Carrey’s acting suggests otherwise. Hiring Carrey during his mid-life crisis or just after a complete mental breakdown doesn’t result in great humour. The fact that Jim Carey and Adam Pally (actual comedians) are present, surely some of the dialogue should come across as funny. It doesn’t. There’s a joke about “hipsters” but it doesn’t work because nobody in the scene looks like a hispster. Sonic’s disguise amounts to a hat and a shirt and apparently that’s enough for people to believe he’s a man in his 40s with a “condition” 🧐. Marsden plays someone with the surname “Wachowski” and yet he has trouble pronouncing “Robotnik” calling him “Robot-ski” which makes little to no sense since he’s not Russian or communist.

There’s also the complete un-originality. There’s white spherical drones that we’ve already seen in Tom Cruise’s Oblivion, the slow motion scene involving Quicksilver in X-Men: Days Of Future Past is also copied. And is calling a raccoon a “trash panda” a thing outside of The Guardians Of The Galaxy? Because if it’s not, it’s plagiarism, or perhaps just lazy writing?

Sonic The Hedgehog is perfectly fine for very young kids with short attention spans who are constantly going for toilet breaks; they’ll keep up with the plot even if they have a bladder the size of a gold ring. With Sonic seen “flossing” (dancing, not cleaning his teeth) in not one but two scenes, this is a film that’s very much targeting mums and dads who are out of touch with popular culture. I know Sonic is still around but he’s not the phenomenon that he was back in the early-to-mid ’90s. Taking something from the past and cashing-in on it just because parents who played this video game as kids will now take their kids to the cinema, is very money-driven rather than artistically-driven. It could have been both but with the piss-poor writing, directing, and acting, you can see the motivations of all those involved as soon as you glimpse sight of the poster. A poster that should have gone with the tagline of “Going Nowhere… Fast”.

Not Super Sonic.

Writing: 2/10

Directing: 2/10

Acting: 3/10

Overall: 3/10

6 replies »

  1. Wait. You were a Nintendo kid…. In the UK? People must have stared at you and said, why don’t you have a ZX Spectrum or why don’t you have the Master System instead…..I agree that this movie was only a way to collect cash if nostalgia. Sonic look horrible in this one. I’m not a fan, but I’m pissed at how he looks, as well as the plot of the film.

    • Missed the whole Master System, NES, and Spectrum years; when I was a kid it was either Mega Drive/Genesis or Super Nintendo and I had a SNES which for your information was quite popular

      I got stares when I had a N64 and everybody else had a PlayStation though.

  2. Also, why does Dr. Robotnik look like
    Stefán Karl Stefánsson’s (rip) character Robbie Rotten after enlarging his chin and taking a hit of coke (maybe meth?)

  3. As a Nintendo kid in my day, the only games I would pay attention to were the rare, unreleased or indie games. They honestly made more sense than Super Mario and The Legend of Zelda. As for SEGA, yeah I only played the games. The Dreamcast was THAT bad! As for this movie, just a straight up bore fest. If it wasn’t for the redesign, no one would go see it.

    • Yeah Cheetahmen II, Hydliyde, Milon’s Castle, Raid 2020, Super Noahs Ark 3D and Little Red Hood made a lot of sense…not!

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