VOD film review: Sonic the Hedgehog
Cast and visuals8
Likeness to video game4
Ivan Radford | On 19, Apr 2020
Director: Jeff Fowler
Cast: Ben Schwartz, James Marsden, Jim Carrey, Tika Sumpter
Watch Sonic the Hedgehog online in the UK: Sky Cinema / NOW / Apple TV (iTunes) / Prime Video (Buy/Rent) / TalkTalk TV / Rakuten TV / Google Play / Sky Store
Sonic the Hedgehog or Mario. That was the choice facing kids back in the early days of handheld video games – Nintendo’s platforming plumber or SEGA’s speedy spike-ball. Each had their own appeal, from puzzle-solving and bad-guy-bashing to the sheer, giddy adrenaline of Sonic’s side-scrolling action, but one thing that has long separated them is this: only Super Mario Bros. had been turned into a movie (read our review of 1993’s Super Mario Bros. here). Now, Sonic is finally catching up.
The result is nothing like the Green Hills-racing game of many childhoods, whisking Sonic into a live-action world of policemen, bar fights and doughnuts. We meet him as he’s enjoying his life full of fast-paced pranks and pop-culture references – until he winds up on the outskirts of a small American town, where he finds himself huntd by Dr. Robotnik (Jim Carrey). And so he turns to the only human who seems trustworthy: the local sheriff, Tom (James Marsden).
What ensues is something not entirely dissimilar to Detective Pikachu or even E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial, as the human-and-alien double-act moves from odd-couple bantering to actual friendship, while the duo move towards thwarting the sinister force on their doorsteps. There’s a bit of X-Men or The Matrix in there too, as one set piece sees Sonic outwit multiple threats by dodging them in slow-motion.
If the surface-level narrative doesn’t necessarily do much to inspire, though, there’s a lot of opportunity to admire the redesign of our lead furball, after an early trailer sent fans into shock over his excessively fuzzy appearance. That only highlights the lack of video game-y-ness on display, though; Sonic the Hedgehog, surely, should be transporting audiences into something resembling his world, rather than dragging him out of the console and into our real world of formulaic narratives.
Rather, it’s the cast that save the day, with Ben Schwartz doing the standard fast-talking narrator with a likeable charm, and James Marsden continuing his career’s work of subtly undermining the chisel-jawed image of Hollywood masculinity with far more gravitas, nuance and humanity than the script might suggest. The star of the show, though, is Jim Carrey, who steals every scene with his outrageously loud performance as the evil Eggman – at once smart, foolish, arrogant, endlessly energetic and, at one point, possessing of some smooth dance moves. Perhaps they should have called the film “Dr. Robotnik” instead. Thanks to him, though, Sonic the Hedgehog at least levels up on Nintendo’s mascot in one category: his movie outing is at least better than Mario’s.
Sonic the Hedgehog is available on Sky Cinema. Don’t have Sky? You can also stream it on NOW, as part of an £11.99 NOW Cinema Membership subscription.