Let’s get the obvious out of the way, video game to film adaptations are hard. You’re taking a well-known character (and in this case a legend in the shape of SEGA’s Sonic the Hedgehog) out of their comfort (Green Hill) zone and placing them into the ‘real’ world. The hope is that both the strength of the character will enable a developed story, and the audience will believe it enough to enjoy the ride.
In this case with Sonic the Hedgehog, and if you weren’t aware, the original trailer gave us all concern over one crucial point, the design of Sonic himself. Quite vital if you want the fans on side, I’m sure you’re agree. However, and thankfully, Paramount responded to the glut of ‘What is going on with Sonic’s legs and eyes?!‘ and re-designed our hero to make him look like, well, Sonic the Hedgehog… but was all the fuss worth it?
Thankfully, it’s a strong ‘yes’ as the move has created a film that may not be perfect but certainly captures a positive energy, with fun adventures and more than a few laugh-out-loud moments for people of all ages.
To give you a little background, Sonic (voiced by Ben Schwartz, taking a Ryan Reynolds-like Deadpool quick-wit approach to the role) is sent to Earth after the creatures on his planet learn of his incredible powers, and he’s told to escape and blend in. He’s doing a good job of hiding while here, until he accidentally takes out an entire power grid and the super-high-tech Dr Robotnik (Jim Carrey on comedy form we’ve not seen in a while) notices something unusual is going on, and sets out to investigate what happened.
From here, there’s a mutual realisation of who’s good and who’s evil, as Dr Robotnik aims to take over the world and Sonic, with the aid of James Marsden’s Sheriff Tom, must try and stop him. That side is simple as you’d expect but with Schwartz/Sonic bringing the quick quips and funny fighting sequences, together with Carrey’s baddie having the time of his life, it brings us an exciting showdown.
While they do keep things easy, and there is room for a little more depth, the narrative centres around developing friendships and making the right moral choices, and this isn’t a negative at its core. While those messages aren’t subtle, the visuals are impressive, and the mix of those with Carrey on cracking form (and I cry-laughed at a joke about a Latte) means a younger audience should also be captivated, rather than just bowing down to the nostalgia factor for a viewer like myself.
While they borrow from a few pop culture films, including a blatant copy of Quicksilver’s scene in X-Men: Days of Future Past and various Marvel-esque touches, this debut feature from director Jeff Fowler, with a script from Pat Casey and Josh Miller, they just manage that balance for kids and adults. Oh, and quite by chance, I’ve been on set as we were driving through Ladysmith, BC as they were filming, I think I even saw the magnificent Crazy Carl (portrayed by Frank C. Turner) at the end of a scene!
So, despite the clear lack of strength in the plot, which is pretty traditional in its progression compared to how well Detective Pikachu flipped it, (and even I was surprised of how good that was) this is still a huge bundle of blue hedgehog fun and I absolutely enjoyed the distraction for its good 1 hour 39 minute run-time.