From as early as I can remember, I have always had a video game controller in my hands from a very young age. Games have always brought me joy and happiness and has shaped a part of who I am throughout my life. To this day I still play video games and I still get that same enjoyment out of it, just as I did as a little kid.
My very first game that I ever played that I will forever cherish and be grateful for was Sonic the Hedgehog (1991) on the Sega Mega Drive (Sega Genesis for the North American release). Ever since, Sonic has felt extremely special and unique to me. The music, the colourful graphics and the feeling of speed was an absolute pull to attention for me. Not only that but the character of Sonic just seemed so damn cool. A no-nonsense, speed-loving hedgehog that did not tolerate evil and wrongdoing, especially against his evil arch nemesis, Dr. Robotnik, whom Sonic is always up against in many of his adventures that eventually paved the way on continuing through the Sega Mega Drive up until current generation of video game consoles of today.
It became inevitable that a feature film based on the blue hedgehog would eventually materialise due to the huge popularity and high video game sales of the franchise, especially in the 90’s. A potential movie based on my all-time favourite and very first video game franchise? Toddler me would be ecstatic! If I could tell my much younger self anything however, it would be that you’ll have to wait until 2020 before this would ever even become a reality, and brave for some interesting bumps along the way. But honestly? As a casual moviegoer and long-time series fan, Sonic the Hedgehog (2020) is totally worth the wait.
Sonic the Hedgehog begins with our adorable titular hero (voiced by the talented Ben Schwartz) on the run from villains who are after Sonic’s special power, his ability to run incredibly fast. Sonic uses his special rings as a portal to escape from his own world into another and ends up living in a small town on Earth called Green Hills (An ‘easter egg’ I’m sure everyone would instantly pick up on). The result causes Sonic to live a carefree and safe life, however at the cost of a very lonely and friendless life by entertaining himself, and himself only, as he must stay hidden in order to protect himself and his powers.
To give him the feeling of being included and having friends, Sonic occasionally likes to adoringly spy on his favourite person from afar, the Sheriff of Green Hills, Tom Wachowski. (Played by the wonderful James Marsden) When Sonic accidentally causes a power surge that causes the entire town to lose power, the government call in the scientific genius Dr. Robotnik (Jim Carrey) to investigate the source. who eventually uncovers Sonic and his unique ability as the culprit.
The rest of the film involves Dr. Robotnik seeking the capture of Sonic to take his powers. At the same time, Tom befriends Sonic and lends him a helping hand to ensure that the speedy blue hedgehog is safe and can find a way to swiftly escape into another world.
While the story isn’t incredibly original or unique, it does the job well enough and delivers on a decent premise that is overall a satisfying viewing. However, what I do love about this film is how well the whole cast work with each other. and how much of a delight they are to watch. Ben Schwartz is the perfect choice to voice Sonic, showcasing the fastest blue critter as an energetic and curious animal that loves life and running as fast as his speeds can take him.
James Marsden and Ben Schwartz work well off each other as the two play unlikely friends who are essentially road-tripping to another state, ensuing hilarious moments together that everyone will laugh at. The scene involving Sonic very quickly visiting the ‘largest rubber band ball’ while Tom is driving them both to San Francisco is hilarious and guarantees for a laugh; a scene I’m also certain that parents will be able to relate to if they’ve had young children demanding to stop the car and visit a certain attraction along a very long road trip.
However, it is Jim Carrey who steals the show; it’s basically Jim Carrey being Jim Carrey but in his best form. Playing Dr. Robotnik as an insanely dedicated but power-obsessed crazy doctor who is hell-bent on catching Sonic is an absolute joy to watch on screen. Carrey steals every scene with simply any word that comes out of his mouth and any action he makes, guaranteeing for a laugh from anyone watching of any age. Carrey has proved countless times how well he is with physical comedy in his movies and continues the trend with a hilarious dance scene at the halfway point of the film, showcasing Robotnik’s goofy yet dedicated side of catching the blue hedgehog. This is something I believe to be quite accurate to the source material of the video games. Dr. Robotnik is goofy and can be hilarious but is also hell-bent on getting what he wants, when he wants. Carrey captures that energy perfectly.
Aside from the cast giving all stellar and hilarious performances, I believe the other side of success to Sonic the Hedgehog is due to the actual design of Sonic himself. You’ve most likely heard that the design of Sonic we see in the film was drastically changed due to a previous design revealed in a movie trailer back in April of 2019 that garnered a huge negative reaction. Sonic looked more humanoid than hedgehog with his strangely human-like face and teeth, it was not cute to say the least. This caused the film to be delayed from a late 2019 release to an early 2020 release in order to give Sonic a brand-new makeover, resulting in what we received in the final product, which I am whole-heartedly glad for.
Sonic is cute and cuddly and appeals to all ages, especially children, something that the film needs to reflect aside from his video game counterpart. Not only that, but the expressive emotions on Sonic throughout the entirety of the movie is so well-done and perfect. His range of happy to sad, angry to concerned is just beautiful to witness. The old design just looked incredibly off. Sonic’s updated current look makes this movie approachable, visually pleasing and very watchable. I do believe that if the old design stuck, the whole mood and feel of Sonic the Hedgehog would just not have worked. Kudos to all involved in starting from scratch to re-design Sonic into what we see now. We truly do thank you.
Sonic the Hedgehog is a very fun, hilarious, surprisingly heart-touching and overall just great movie to watch. You don’t need to be a super fan to understand the film (various easter eggs and references are definitely thrown in here and there that fans will spot throughout), but if you’re aware about a fast-talking and running blue hedgehog that fights evil against an evil scientist that has a funny-looking moustache, you know what you’re getting yourself into. This is a movie about friendship and family that everyone can appreciate. And even at some point watching the film, you may find yourself going ‘awww’ at to once or twice. It’s just that kind of movie.
If I could, I would confidently tell my 5-year old self that Sonic the Hedgehog is absolutely worth the wait and that ‘you did good’ by picking the right video game to be a fan of for life. Sonic is here and he’s still just as cool and heroic as he was back in 1991.