By Daniel Guerrero
Since the teaser trailer was revealed, fans have had mixed feelings about the upcoming live-action film,“Sonic: the Hedgehog” as it showed laughable and hideous Computer Generated (CGI) design of the animal. Paramount thought that the realistic design of the character would please fans, however they proceed to make fun of his muscular legs and humanoid teeth on the internet. Subsequently, Paramount postponed the initial release date to February and altered the design to be a cartoon instead. After so much of the film being reworked, it successfully pays off, making the film fun and energetic for families to watch, while maintaining the streak of well-made video game film adaptations since “Detective Pikachu” from last year.
The film focuses on Sonic the Hedgehog (Ben Schwarz) and his exploration of our world, as he is forced to leave his own. Therefore, he uses his portable gold rings to travel to Greenhills, Montana is now on the run from Dr. Robotnik (Jim Carrey), who is hired by the Government to search for him. Along the way, he runs into Sheriff Thomas Wachowski (James Mardesen) who works to help Sonic recover his lost portable gold rings in San Francisco.
Possibly one of the film’s biggest strengths is Sonic’s cartoonish redesign. His big green-colored eyes, iconic red and white sneakers, white gloves, and small torso appeal to both old and new fans of the Sonic video game franchise. These effects best resemble the character’s original appearance in the 1990’s. This was all thanks to illustrator and animator Tyson Hesse, who had previously worked on “Sonic Mania” and the Sonic comic book series. Hesse was hired by director Jeff Fowler to be the head of the resdesig process and was able to make great creative decisions, which further led to changing the initial serious tone.
Even though the Sonic redesign improved the tone, it did not help the screenplay. The road trip scenes during the second act drag a little too long, for example. Maybe the filmmakers needed to add extra time to its hour and forty minutes run time.
Besides this, the screenplay does successfully establish Sonic as a great character arc. Audiences feel bad for him throughout the film and root for him until the end. It also does have laughable jokes, especially those delivered by Carrey.
Carrey is perfectly cast for the role of Dr. Robotnik. His performance will remind audiences of his energetic and absurd characters during the 1990’s and early 2000’s, like Stanley Ipksis/The Mask and the Grinch. He is hilarious throughout the whole film and entertains audiences whenever he appears on screen with his laughable temper tantrums, quirky dance moves, and devilish smile. Carrey does a particularly amazing job with his facial expressions. For example, when Dr. Robotnik first discovers Sonic at Tom’s house, Dr. Robotnik has a shocked reaction, which Carrey conveys with his mouth and eyes wide open.
While the acting was successful, the musical score left something to be desired. It should have sounded like it could come from a Sonic video game, but it fell flat. In comparison, “Detective Pikachu” was able to succeed by using their music score to make the audience feel like they are entering a world where both people and Pokemon coexist. “Ryme City” is the perfect example, as it felt like it originated from a Pokemon game with its catchy theme. It also is remixed in the song, “Game on” during the final battle sequence towards the end of the film, which is common in video games like “The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild” and “Splatoon 2.”
“Sonic the Hedgehog” fails to do this by having a simple score that could play in any other film. It did not truly embrace the video game original for this film.
Despite its flaws, “Sonic the Hedgehog” is overall heartwarming and fun for Sonic fans and families to watch. The film was able to stick with the source material and not end up becoming a complete disaster like in the original trailers.