by Kyle Arango
When a movie faces controversy, it can be for a variety of reasons.
Whether it is the actions a character takes or the themes being messy, a film typically comes under fire by after its release. I have never seen it happen before a release quite like this. Sonic the Hedgehog got destroyed by the internet not because the character is disliked, but because of his teeth. The creators went and changed it and now the film is coming out. Will this be a Frankenstein’s monster of a movie? I am so happy to report that is not the case at all. Sonic the Hedgehog is a delightful treat of a movie that combines humor with heart and is understanding of what a family movie should do.
Sonic the Hedgehog is based off the classic video game of the same name that launched an entire series that has become a classic franchise. This film specifically sees Sonic (Ben Shwartz) travel to Earth from his own world to keep his power safe. He lives on his own and spends his free time running around and testing his speed on an unsuspecting cop named Tom (James Marsden). When he loses his temper and causes a large power outage, the government enlists Doctor Robotnick (Jim Carrey) to track him down and take him in. Sonic enlists the help of Tom to help him find his missing rings and escape Earth before his power falls into the wrong hands.
When the trailer first came out and the controversy around the design happened, I was against the change. I always believe a filmmaker should be allowed to put out their vision of the film and judgements should come after release. In this case they listened to the fans and changed the design of Sonic. The result? It was actually for the better. He looks way more like the game but what would’ve been the hardest to watch is the beginning. We see baby Sonic in the first scene and had that thing had human teeth and calf muscles, it would have been a completely different movie. Fortunately the right choice was made and hopefully it pays off in return.
On the surface, Sonic the Hedgehog is a fun, family friendly film that gushes out entertainment for days. However, beneath the surface this film has a ton on its mind. What the film conveys is what it’s like to deal with loneliness and that search to find people who care about you. Sonic knows he cannot reveal himself to the world but after years of reading comic books, playing baseball, and watching a movie through a window by himself, he cracks. He doesn’t bottle up his emotions, he gets upset and lets everything out by running like crazy and setting off a surge. It is an allegory for depression that is handled very well. While Sonic is dealing with depression, he is also teaching Tom an important lesson. That being happy where you are and doing something bigger doesn’t always amount to better. Tom wants to get out of Green Hills and move to San Francisco for a job to help more people where he is. Sonic teaches him that even the smallest areas need help and what he has now is enough. I just find it so fascinating that a film about a talking hedgehog that can run fast tackles these large themes while still being digestible for younger audiences.
The cast in this film is also incredibly charming. James Marsden has largely gone overlooked his entire career. Even in big films like X-Men, filmmakers usually don’t know how to use him. Surprisingly Jeff Fowler figured it out. Fowler plays into Marsden’s strengths of being this relatable stud that seems achievable to us as an audience. He owns this movie and acting alongside a CGI character has to be difficult but he makes it look effortless. Ben Schwartz is just having the time of his life as Sonic. He just throws in all of his charisma and humor into the character and brings him to life. As a fan of the game, I never pictured the character being what Schwartz does and now I can’t see him any other way. Jim Carrey was the one I had a problem with for part of the film. He just felt like he was in a different movie for the first half of the film doing stupid faces and weird deliveries. Then there’s a moment part way through where you buy into what he is doing and he is glorious from there. He has a particularly fun dance sequence that really makes you smile.
Sonic was my video game growing up and I was scared going in that this movie would screw him up. I am so happy to report otherwise. Sonic the Hedgehog is a great family film that understands the character fully and doesn’t try to cram everything in its first go. The action sequences are as
good as the Quicksilver scenes in X-Men and the humor is very well timed. They kept it simple world wise for this first film and it paid off, so now in the sequels, which they do tease midway through the credits, they can let this grow naturally.
The Verdict: 3.5/5 Stars