Film Review - Sonic the Hedgehog

This image released by Paramount Pictures shows Sonic, voiced by Ben Schwartz, in a scene from “Sonic the Hedgehog.”

In 1989, the Sega company released the SEGA Genesis system in the United States. It would be another three years or so before I would get the system, turn it on and hear “SEEEGAAA” for the first time. My brothers and I had already had the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) for some time before we got the SEGA Genesis.

The NES system boasted more games, but for me my heart always laid with the Sega Genesis; “Ecco the Dolphin” or “NBA Jam” to name a few. But one game always stood out from the pack, just as one did with the NES.

Although “Super Mario Brothers” was iconic for the NES, I always prefered SEGA’s “Sonic the Hedgehog.”

Sega wanted its own Mario-type mascot. Enter the first “Sonic the Hedgehog” game that was released in 1991.

The first Sonic game, and its eventual series of games, centers on Sonic, an anthropomorphic blue hedgehog, who battles the evil Doctor Ivo “Eggman” Robotnik, also a mad scientist. The Sonic games have been said to be a representative of 1990s culture and are listed among some of the greatest video games of all time. I would not dispute this.

Now in 2020 we have the pleasure of the “Sonic the Hedgehog” movie. But we have to ask one question: Is such an accomplished game franchise getting the film it deserves?

The answer is yes.

The film follows Sonic as he tries to navigate the complexities of life on Earth along with Tom Wachowski, Sonic’s best friend. Now the pair must join forces to stop the evil Dr. Robotnik. Robotnik wants to capture Sonic and use Sonic’s powers to take over the world.

The two biggest aspects that make the new “Sonic the Hedgehog” film good are the protagonist and antagonist. These are the same aspects that could make or break any film.

Sonic is the protagonist, or hero, of the story. The character of Sonic is obviously a digital one, but even digital characters matter and a bad one can ruin a film. This almost happened to “Sonic the Hedgehog.” The movie was supposed to be released last year. However, when the trailer came out, there was a public outcry over how Sonic looked. Apparently the filmmakers were going for a more real hedgehog look and this decision made Sonic look terrible.

I am not normally on board for the public to control an artist’s vision and would rather trust and see what the artist creates. Decisions on what is or is not good should be made after something is created not before. This is obviously not 100% of the time but as a general rule, as evident as I sided with those who spoke out against the original version of Sonic.

In the end this turned out to be a good thing. The new and improved version of Sonic was made to look more like Sonic himself.

This cannot be stated loudly enough, but I will try. This makes the movie much, much better!

Otherwise, the audience would be sitting through an hour-and-forty-minute film looking at something terrible.

For a film, this could never have been a good thing.

In this improved version of Sonic, the audience can connect to a character they already know and love rather than try and connect to a new or worse version of a character they know and love. This is where so many films get lost because changing something that would so clearly connect an audience to it is never a good idea.

Ben Schwartz voices Sonic to much fanfare.

Sonic’s jokes, while often childish, as they are geared for children, still land well with adults, and the voice of schwartz is not off-putting or so differently audibly from what someone might assume Sonic sounds like to take away from the film.

“Sonic the Hedgehog’’ is a film made by its main character, Sonic. This is as it should be in a film with such a title. The fans were right on this one.

One other character makes “Sonic the Hedgehog” a great kids film, and that is the villain.

Just like in the video games, the villain of the “Sonic the Hedgehog” film is none other than Doctor Ivo “Eggman” Robotnik, played by Jim Carrey. Carrey, even more than Sonic, makes “Sonic the Hedgehog” a wonderful kids film. In “Sonic the Hedgehog,” Robotnik is everything you want out of a villian in a kids film.

The villain of kids films can not be overpowering in any aspect. Carrey plays a charmingly goofy Doctor Ivo Robotnik and one who is not overpoweringly menacing or scary. This version of Doctor Ivo “Eggman” Robotnik fittingly reminds me of ‘90s kid or family film villains. The Wet Bandits of Home Alone or Paul Giamatti’s Marty Wolf from “Big Fat Liar” are villians that are marginally scary that lose to the hero in a very specific way.

Doctor Ivo “Eggman” Robotnik, like the aforementioned characters, loses to the hero by being more clumsy than by being evil or scary. Jim Carrey is as clumsy and charming as ever in “Sonic the Hedgehog.” While he is not the Jim Carrey of the ‘90s and “Ace Ventura” fame, Carrey is or feels like Carrey again in “Sonic the Hedgehog.” What more could a ‘90s kid ask for?

Classic Sonic, classic Carrey, and the ability, to bring our generations children to see things we loved at their age. The ability to connect with things they may now love after seeing “Sonic the Hedgehog” with things we did or do love from our time at that age. This is what makes “Sonic the Hedgehog” a great and so far popular kids film.

“Sonic the Hedgehog” offers ‘90s childhood nostalgia and the ability to use the love for Sonic our generation had as a bridge to a new generation’s love for the character.

There is no better movie-going experience than that.

IRATE SCORE: 3/5

Jason Guyer is an avid moviegoer and works in the graphics department at the Eagle Times. For questions or comments he can be emailed at guyerj@eagletimes.com.

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