'Sonic The Hedgehog' (2020) Review: My Friend Sonic
Movie trailers are a funny thing. They’re meant to get you hyped, but there’s a balance to making a good one. Show too much and you ruin the movie. Show too little, and there’s nothing to get excited about. Show your character as a mutated freakish version of his beloved design, and you inspire so much outrage that you’ll be forced to set back your release date by 3 months and increase your budget by $5 Million trying to fix a cgi disaster.
A bad trailer can literally ruin your film’s chances of success, which has little to no bearing on the quality of the film. Though it can sometimes affect how you see the movie. In the case of Sonic, a part of me always wondered how it would be if we had the narrow eyed, human teethed monstrosity we initally were exposed to. Then again, that’s the same part of me that wishes ‘Sonic The Hedgehog’ was a bad film, worthy of ridicule. Instead, it’s actually a well made children’s film.
This being a film about a furry alien with super speed, it’s starts off with a quick paced action scene, abruptly halted by my favourite storytelling device, narration. Ben Schwartz hurls the audience all the way back to the beginning. An adorable baby hedgehog speeds through a realistic rendition of the video game world familiar to fans of the source material. Soon after, he’s exiled to Earth, a refugee who’s delighted by all the fun things the small town of Green Hills has to offer. The freedom to do anything, and the speed to do it all, but there’s one thing Sonic wants more than anything. A friend. So they hired the man so ‘friendly’ he’s made a career out of being the rom-com reject.
This was perhaps the most surprising thing about Sonic. As fast paced as the action is, it slows down immensely to get you into the characters. They’re not the most complex characters in the world, and there’s a fair number of exposition heavy scenes, but that’s far from the norm for the film. More often than not, ‘Sonic The Hedgehog’ shows you why the characters are the way they are. They have moments where you get to see who they are instead of just being told their situations.
Those situations also move the plot forward. An emotional outburst puts Sonic in the crosshairs of Jim Carrey’s Doctor Robotnik, and James Marsden’s Tom Wachowski. When he first meets Sonic Tom understandably shoots him right where he stands, as one does when they see a 2 foot tall talking blue creature. But hey, there are worse ways to start a friendship.
The rest of the movie is a road trip fugitive movie, which continues the strong character moments from earlier, but also ramps up the action and comedy. Jim Carrey in particular gets to flex a muscle audiences haven’t seen from him in about a decade. Unless you count ‘Dumb And Dumber To’. Which you shouldn’t. At first, it seemed like a tired schtick. A failed attempt at capturing a personal brand of comedy that died a long time ago. But damned if I wasn’t with him by the end. In fact, the last 1/2 hour of the film gleefully goes off the rails, providing laughs, and interesting action.
The best thing about ‘Sonic The Hedgehog’ is that it earns all its individual flaws. When it ramps up near the end, it’s able to do so because it put in the work, and made you care about the characters first. Those characters then informed the story, which culminates in a finale that satisfies both, with interesting action, and jokes worth a laugh. Then again, the humour doesn’t always work, and the film at times seems uncertain of how strong its characters are, and simply tells rather than shows. Still, there’s so much thought put into the film, it’s easy to give it a pass.
Rating: Enthusiastic Half Price.