Mini Reviews: Sonic the Hedgehog (2020) & Sonic the Hedgehog 2 (2022)

Every year there’s films that I really want to see, but due to time commitments I just never get the chance. Sonic the Hedgehog became a casualty of that back in 2020, and so did its sequel when it released towards the start of this year. So in a moment of downtime, I’m finally getting to this duo of animated films that I’ve heard some good things about.

Sonic the Hedgehog (2020)

With all the controversy surrounding the character’s original, atrocious design, it’s good to see that Sonic the Hedgehog had a successful release in 2020. The dual live-action and animated film follows the classic Sega hedgehog as he goes toe-to-toe with Dr. Robotnik (Jim Carrey) in a bid to stop the evil genius from achieving global domination.

I went into Sonic the Hedgehog with baseline expectations. I wasn’t expecting it to be anything spectacular, but I was also hoping that it would at least be a good time. Thankfully, I can safely say that this movie is a blast. From beginning to end it’s a very fun time with a solid story, good comedic beats and a lively, upbeat tone. It’s clear as day that director Jeff Fowler, along with writers Pat Casey and Josh Miller, focused on creating a film that is simple and unquestionably fun for all ages. It’s a great family watch with plenty of effective laughs suitable for both kids and adults. In terms of the story, it’s actually quite small-scale and focused on just a few key characters. It’s easy to follow, hits the plot points you expect and does just enough to keep audiences invested.

Comedy-wise, there’s much to love. The upbeat tone makes for a great launchpad for one-liners and silly comedic beats, most of which work quite well. Some of the comedy is overtly silly, clearly directed at kids, but it doesn’t detract from the film. This comedic tone paves the way for a beautifully unhinged and energetic Jim Carrey performance. He’s brilliant as Dr. Robotnik, really tapping into his trademark physical comedy style to bring the over-the-top villain to life. Then there’s Ben Schwartz, who lends his voice to Sonic and does an awesome job. He brings plenty of charisma and energy to the film, especially alongside James Marsden, who is just always charming and funny.

Lastly, I want to mention that yes, there’s solid action set-pieces spread throughout that let Sonic exhibit his speed powers. The cat-and-mouse dynamic between Sonic and Robotnik is an entertaining one filled with high-speed chases and explosions aplenty. Again, nothing incredible, but fun nonetheless.

In the end, Sonic the Hedgehog is a very good time. It’s got a simple story, good comedy, solid action and vibrant performances. There’s nothing about the film I specifically didn’t like. It sets out to deliver a fun adventure the whole family can enjoy and it does exactly that. It’s a pleasant ride that’ll please general audiences and Sonic fans alike.


Sonic the Hedgehog 2 (2022)

Sonic returns to the big screen with a sequel that goes bigger than its predecessor in almost every way… but is it better? Sonic the Hedgehog 2 once again puts Sonic (Ben Schwartz) up against the evil Dr. Robotnik (Jim Carrey), except this time Robotnik has found an ally in Knuckles (Idris Elba), and Sonic has made a friend in Tails (Colleen O’Shaughnessey).

Where the first film harnessed a quite simple narrative, this sequel expands the scope of its story by a lot. It delves deeper into the lore and history of this universe, while introducing new characters on top of our returning cast. On one hand, the grander narrative is awesome, while on the other it makes things unnecessarily complicated. The first half of this film isn’t quite as strong as its predecessor. There some cool moments with Knuckles, and the Sonic and Tails duo have some fun misadventures, but it’s the humans that weigh it down. There’s an entire wedding subplot that’s entirely disconnected from the main story, only thrown in here to keep James Marsden in the film. It’s a complete waste of time that bogs down the film. Marsden is fine, but when you now have Knuckles and Tails in the franchise, he’s not really needed… and it shows.

While the first half doesn’t quite stack up, all of its woes are made up for in the latter half. The third act especially is absolutely awesome. After a neat little treasure-hunting adventure, the climax of the film eclipses anything the first film accomplished. It’s almost on the scale of a Spider-Man: No Way Home, or even an Avengers flick… yes, that second example hyperbole. But still, it’s a surprisingly thrilling climax that I was a lot more engaged in than I thought I’d be after the setup.

Performance-wise, Jim Carrey is still doing the most as Dr. Robotnik, potentially even better this time around with a more maniacal performance. I must highlight Idris Elba’s Knuckles who definitely steals the show. He’s cool with his brute-force attitude, but also funny with his classic fish-out-of-water arc.

In the end, this sequel steps up the comedy and is a lot more action-packed than the first film, sending Sonic on an adventure that’s stacked with enjoyable moments for both kids and adults. The story does get bloated and weighed down by the human narrative, an element that’s completely unnecessary, but the action-heavy latter half is such a blast that it’s worth the price of admission alone.



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