Sonic The Hedgehog (2020)

One of the greatest campaigns the internet has ever done, the SEGA legend is here on the big screen in gloriously-CGI rendered, humorous, Easter Egg-filled majesty with 80’s-action feel, buddy-duo’s, and one of Jim Carrey’s best characters. 7.5/10.

Plot Synopsis: The world needed a hero — it got a hedgehog. Powered with incredible speed, Sonic embraces his new home on Earth — until he accidentally knocks out the power grid, sparking the attention of uncool evil genius Dr. Robotnik. Now, it’s supervillain vs. supersonic in an all-out race across the globe to stop Robotnik from using Sonic’s unique power to achieve world domination.

*Possible Spoilers Ahead*

Review

SEGA: 29+ Years Later

Tetris, F-Zero, Phantasy Star Online, Valkyria Chronicles, Super Monkey Ball, Yakuza 0, Crazy Taxi, & King Of All: Sonic The Hedgehog

Photo Courtesy Of: Paramount Pictures

SEGA: Tetris, F-Zero, Phantasy Star Online, Valkyria Chronicles, Super Monkey Ball, Yakuza 0, Crazy Taxi, and biggest of all: a little-known blue, running-shoe-feeted, coin-collecting, super-speed hedgehog named Sonic. Pre-2019, video game movies were seen as a joke/pipe-dream whose box office and critical failure lacked any ostensible explanation – with some even reverting to supernatural vexes for why they near-constantly failed. Pokémon (the most infamous and biggest media franchise ever) managed to break this chain with their imaginative cyberpunk-noir mystery film Detective Pikachu, pioneering what could be a new age of gaming films bringing beloved franchises to life with all the shiny cinematic bells-and-whistles of 21st-century technology. On announcement, Sonic looked to be continuing that trend with a likewise-iconic rodent protagonist getting his big-screen blockbuster – until the trailer hit and set the internet ablaze with merciless cruelty at the laughability of Sonic’s appearance. Many lesser studios would’ve pridefully ignored fan outrage, writing it off as trolling, too-harsh, or a nuisance to go back and correct monetarily, but Paramount shocked everyone by taking the criticism constructively: promising, then fixing Sonic’s look from the ground up. As the box office stats reverberate, their humility, respect for the character, and listening to fans paid off in spades – in what also happens to be: the best video game movie to date. One of the greatest campaigns the internet has ever done, the SEGA legend is finally here on the big screen in gloriously-CGI rendered, humorous, Easter Egg-filled majesty – with 80’s-action feel, buddy-duo’s, & one of the best roles of Jim Carrey’s career as Robotnik.

The Best Campaign The Internet Has Done

A *Perfect* Cinematic Visualization Of Sonic By A Move All Studios Need To Learn From: Listening To (Constructive) Fan Criticisms

Photo Courtesy Of: Paramount Pictures

4/30/19: Trailer 1 for Sonic The Hedgehog (2020) releases online.. and the backlash is inexorable. A cornucopia of some of the funniest memes and reaction videos we’ve ever witnessed aptly ripped the bovine-eyed, human-teethed, fake-‘realistic’ blue hedgehog portrayal to shreds. A media nightmare so virulent, the experience would’ve crippled most studios and PR teams, but instead prompted something we’ve never seen before: a studio announcement of character-redesign and CGI-fix on a foundational level. Far too often, fan-opinions and objective criticism from anywhere outside the high-rises and out-of-touch penthouses of studio-executives have been disregarded as ‘trolling’ and unimportant: a dangerous way of thinking that has doomed thousands of films out of foolish pride and arrogance, many of them from easy fixes if they were caught early, like doctoral diagnoses of malignant tumors before they grow out of control. Listening to the people who are buying the tickets and control the entire narrative of how the film performs at the box office (the existential goal of the movie business) seems like a no-brainer from a financial perspective, but is inexplicably rarer than finding a rare egg to take to the Black Market on Chao Island of this film’s titular game-series. Paramount has finally put on its M.D.-stethoscope to cure and innovate the game with Sonic, turning a laughing-stock into a grand-slam whose only laughing is laughing to the bank – and the top of video game movie leaderboards.

Tons Of References & Easter Eggs To The Original Sonic Games & Lore

A *Perfect* Realization Of The Iconic Blue Speedster On The Big-Screen, Brought To Life Through Magnificent CGI & Speedster-VFX

Photo Courtesy Of: Paramount Pictures

The final-version of Sonic to grace the screen here is visually-magnificent; a fantastic translation that boasts the character’s original SEGA charm any fan of the original games will fall head-over-heels for – while also pumped through with top-notch, resplendent, richly-textured, vibrant, expensive-feeling CGI. The dramaticism of difference between that proverbial first trailer and the film itself is one of the most incredible VFX storylines ever – and one that deserves limitless accolades and recognition for its ocular achievement. Dynamic cinematography by Stephen F. Windon brings the tale (and especially the speedster VFX scenes, bringing the primal fascination of being able to run at super-speeds) to life through vivid colors, epic slow-mo, and diversity of backgrounds for events. Beyond the visual craftsmanship on-display, the illustrators and engineers responsible breathe love, appreciation, and care/knowledge of the original games into every frame by how much they pack the canvas with Easter Eggs & callbacks: the infamous ledge-animation, handstand, taunt pose, curl-boom, and Sonic’s hilly island home circling loop-de-loops and ramp/bridge-runs. Perhaps the best film visually in 2020 so far, this blockbuster has got some serious legs to it already off to a very-good start – given even more impressive glair by the film’s characterization and buddy-cop duo.

One Of Jim Carrey’s Greatest Characters

A Showcase Of The Zaniness, Theatricality, Charisma, & Idiosyncrasy That Launched Carrey’s Career, Circled-Back To Years Later

Photo Courtesy Of: Paramount Pictures

The biggest triumph of the film by far though is its villain: Jim Carrey’s Dr. Robotnik. It might be one of best and most complete performances of Carrey’s entire career – a conglomeration of everything that launched his career and made him one of the world’s foremost comedic stars. One cannot describe the inimitable joy of watching his zany mannerism and theatricality-bursting idiosyncrasy – a perfect fit for the batsh*t-crazy and weird character of Eggman that Carrey spirals into madness over time but manages to skillfully make seem normal at first with some other skills he’s fostered over the years. A dark-trip and God/superiority-complex plays for great laughs and an exaggerated self-worth that is a gem to behold, while also exemplifying a scary-at-times lust-for-control/dictatorship through the lens of man vs. machine analysis. The creations of Robotnik are brought to life by impressive, high-budget CGI that adds great wow-factor and action to the canvas leading to the end-credits culmination of a criminally-insane, bald-accurate (rock-connaissance humorous) Eggman with all the time in the world to plan his return: the perfect on-screen version of Sonic’s big bad. At the very least, even the staunchest critic of this film cannot deny the magnetic charm and charisma Carrey knocks his role out of the park with – one of the most hilarious & complete characters he’s done and one I cannot wait to see more of.

The Comedy & Voice Performances

A Marsden-Schwartz ’80’s-Nostalgic Buddy-Duo That (Surprisingly) Works & Portrayals That Capture The Chaos & Energy Of Sonic

Photo Courtesy Of: Paramount Pictures

Parks And Recreation’s Ben Schwartz was kind of an oddball casting here as the infamous blue hedgehog. Despite being a fine actor, not choosing a strictly-voice actor seemed like a mistake for this massive a project. We’re happy to be (mostly)-wrong; while at times his pitch and constant self-dialogue can be vexing, Scwartz does an overall-nice job with the role that is serviceable enough to buoy it – while capturing the chaotic mania of the character. The characterization and a welcome coming-of-age/super-origin arc Sonic is given provides apt development in a motif that has been done before (often in the genre) but at least feels cinematic enough to add some baseline to the story: coming to terms with the consequences of his powers while others hunt him down to abuse it for ill-will. The games never really focused on the storytelling aspect as much as the speed-thrills, so the liberties the film takes with the hedgehog is perfectly-fine and passably-blockbusteresque. What we really didn’t expect to work most is the buddy-cop angle. Endless clichés have muddied the subgenre and it seemed like a questionable detour from Sonic’s escapist origins on paper, but actually works nicely – partly due to Marsden’s likable policeman gags and the 180 they take when they meet this lightning racer, and partly due to a nostalgia trip it invokes by doing the ’80’s action movies and buddy-comedies it takes inspiration of (and even references) right.

A Fantastic Soundtrack From Gangsta’s Paradise To X Ambassadors To Queen

Mega Pop-Culture References & Hilarious Comedy Exploring The Fun Of Super-Speed

Photo Courtesy Of: Paramount Pictures

From the trailer’s brilliant use of Coolio’s ‘Gangsta’s Paradise,’ I suspected the technicians of Sonic were bringing their soundtrack A-game. The film’s auditory package is outstanding – playing up the nostalgia and energy of its premise with fast, zippy ballads like Queen’s ‘Don’t Stop Me Now’, Hyper Potions’ ‘Friends,’ X Ambassadors’ ‘Boom’, and Wiz Khalifa/Ty Dolla $ign/Lil Yachty/Sueco The Child’s end-credits ‘Speed Me Up’ impressively sampling actual SEGA video game sounds in a song that’s sure to race up the charts. The comedy of the film is sensational – Sonic is one of the funniest blockbusters I’ve seen of late. Packed to the brim with references to pop culture and classic-movies/blockbusters foundational to its premise, it’s one of the most meta and charming pop-comedies since perhaps Deadpool 1+2. The film has plenty of fun with how massively-entertaining the concept of super-speed is – like in its breathtaking slow-motion sequences and gags like the radar gun + race through world-wonders – and mentions everything from our modern obsession with Keanu Reaves to Mario to Baby Yoda to The Rock as President to Lethal Weapon to Speed to The Flash (pays homage nicely to the DC Comics’ legend who popularized super-speed nearly a ~century ago) to Fast & Furious to Men In Black and more – a divertable two-hours of entertainment by that alone.

Flaws

Some Misses In Jokes & Admittedly-Juvenile Humor + Partial-Genericism

Photo Courtesy Of: Paramount Pictures

Flaws in Sonic are its cringeworthy opening rewind-scene that is perhaps the most basic/generic and clichéd way to start an origin blockbuster, poor-acting outside its central trio (like the Barbardos-yacht line.. gag), a bothersome character in Rachel whose whole schtick of hating on her sister’s man wears old very quickly, and some juvenile humour – with constant obsessions with farts and butts that betray its better overall comedy. The movie isn’t going to win any Oscars for cinematic-innovation, but it doesn’t need to – it more than dazzles on its popcorn movie entertainment while bringing a beloved video game icon to life.

Conclusion

The Best Video Game Movie To-Date

The SEGA Legend Is Finally Here On The Big-Screen & It’s Glorious – Together With Det. Pikachu, A New Dawn Of Gaming Films

Photo Courtesy Of: Paramount Pictures

Overall, 2020’s Sonic The Hedgehog is the movie that fans of video-game icons have been waiting for. Detective Pikachu (2019) broke the chain of failures in a super-effective mystery film that felt sci-noir in all the best ways, but Sonic speeds past it for the title: Best Video Game Movie. It’s hilarious, action-packed, visually-stunning, and a master-showcase for the idiosyncratic genius of Jim Carrey – all in a package that’s as quick-feeted and jocular as the hedgehog himself: a joy to watch for anyone who played these games and one that packs important new tricks for old-dog studio-executives to learn in the business of moviemaking. One of the greatest campaigns the internet has ever done, the SEGA legend is finally here on the big screen in gloriously-CGI rendered, humorous, Easter Egg-filled majesty with 80’s-action feel, buddy-duo’s, & one of the best performances of Jim Carrey’s career as Dr. Robotnik. A new age of blockbusters is upon us, and it’s here fresh off a Mobius loop.

Official CLC Score: 7.5/10