As the SEGA logo appeared onscreen, a fist-bump rose into the air. A true Sonic fan was in the midst and I knew I would be looking to him in order to see whether or not the film fulfilled its promise to the fanbase. Having no prior opinions or even experiences really with Sonic, this impassioned geek (meant with affection) would be my eyes and ears into Sonic The Hedgehog. When a truly bizarre plot mechanic set into place during the third act, I could hear a loud guttural sigh fill the auditorium. The geek had spoken… and he was not pleased. I cannot say I was either.
Sonic The Hedgehog follows a rambunctious speedy blue devil with a love for life, but no one to live it with. Forced to remain anonymous in a world he truly loves, one that could never love him back. After the evil Dr. Robotnik sets his sights on Sonic, he must team up with James Marsden (he probably has a name) to escape Earth. A mildly amusing and proven formula that, when given life, can truly work is done instead with clumsy conviction and dumb love. Dr. Robotnik at one point says, “Confidence- a fool’s substitute for intelligence”. A more scathing review than I could ever write.
There is fun to be had, however, mostly in the form of the aforementioned Dr. Robotnik. Jim Carrey plays the role with a level of scenery-chewing we have not seen in years. This gives the movie its only real bursts of fun and authenticity. For much of the running time, Sonic The Hedgehog plays like Deadpool-lite, wanting to feel uber random with constant winks to validate us in being in on the joke and “getting it”. This is mostly a futile effort given that the screenplay feels largely slapdash and cobbled together with painfully unfunny puerile jokes that rarely hit, if ever at all. Jim Carrey’s commanding presence almost serves to heighten this issue, giving us the zany sincerity we know and love, only to then have to switch back to James Marsden talking about how much he loves Olive Garden.
One of the most contentious issues surrounding Sonic is the redesign of the character. Switching out the awkward (to put it nicely) design seen in the first trailer with a more fan-friendly, faithful one that certainly looks better is still not without issue largely due to sometimes awkward CGI and a lack of spatial awareness. He sometimes looks great! Other times you start to realize why they went with the original design that they chose.
Perhaps the smarter investment would have been in writers that do not crank out overused plot mechanics like a screenplay mad libs generator. The film comes so painfully close to finding its heart and a sort of emotional resonance but quickly sprints past in order to get to its 3rd blatantly stolen action beat from a certain other speedster dressed in silver. Wanting to be Deadpool for kids, Sonic seems to have forgotten what makes those films rise above others. Emotional intelligence and thematic depth that means when the silly jokes are over and the film draws to a close- the audience is left with a feeling or hopefully a greater understanding of themselves or the world.
As the title card zoomed onto the screen and the flashy credits sequence began, I felt as if I had just gotten the rings knocked out of me. Not just because I did not enjoy the film, but because my eyes and ears into the fanbase did not either. If you make a movie that ends up meaning nothing, even to the people you made it for… what did you make?
Score: ★ 1/2