Not the original character, Blonic.
Sonic the Hedgehog is a great lesson for studios looking to make video game film adaptations. Foremost it shows how much going back to fix a mistake can smooth over ill will with the fans, and it serves as a reminder that studios need to pay attention to the source material and what the fans want. I’m looking at you, Halo. Yes, every director wants to put their unique stamp on an IP when adapting it, but sticking close to the script and showing respect to the source material goes a long way. Oh and hire good writers and charismatic actors. So it’s no surprise that Sonic The Hedgehog 2 also released to great critical acclaim, grossing $376 million on a $110 million budget and cementing a third film plus a Knuckles spinoff.
The sequel once again brings together the star-studded cast. While originally skeptical on how well he’d do, Ben Schwartz continues to knock it out of the park as Sonic. Schwartz has charm oozing out of his pores and thanks to a combination of voice talent and animation manages to nail his timing at every point in the film. Director Jeff Fowler obviously knew what he was doing here because he also managed to snag Colleen O’Shaughnessey herself to play Sonic’s best pal Tails. O’Shaughnessey has played Tails in the video games going back to 2014 and was a high demand once people found out Tails would be in the film.
Meanwhile Idris Elba shows up to play a very different Knuckles than what people might be used to. Knuckles in this film is very tribalistic and has a tinge of Haitian voodoo accenting his voice. Idris Elba playing Knuckles might be the only thing that topped the original announcement of Ben Schwartz playing Sonic in terms of hesitation, and once again they nailed it. Elba feels far more intimidating with his deep sultry voice than the normal Knuckles we’re used to. And of course we have the star of the show, Jim Carey, reprising his role as Eggman. Decades of acting have gifted Carey with the ability to steal the show and just make every moment he’s on screen fun and memorable. There’s very few people who can take a live action role and make it look even more cartoonish than the actual cartoons.
Sonic the Hedgehog 2 takes place after the first movie, of course, with Tom (James Marsden) and Maddie (Maddie Wachowski) heading off to Hawaii to celebrate the marriage of Rachel (Natasha Rothwell) and Randall (Shemar Moore). I’m going to be completely honest, I 100% forgot about the plot point of Rachel from the first movie and that Tails was shown at the end of the first movie as well. Home alone and working on his vigilante shtick, Sonic is attacked by who else but Dr. Robotnik (Jim Carey) accompanied by Knuckles. Sonic is rescued by Tails and the two go on a quest to find the mystical Master Emerald. Fans of the game will know exactly what I’m talking about here.
It’s hard to find a bad member of the cast for this movie. Lee Majdoub is back as Agent Stone, Robotnik’s fanatical assistant. Adam Pally returns as Wade Whipple, the goofy small town cop who means well. Tika Sumpter is still gorgeous and charismatic, and James Marsden does a good job of being the actor you hire when Paul Rudd turns down the role or isn’t available to shoot. The live action characters for the most part act in a more exaggerated style that doesn’t feel unrealistic but managed to bridge the gap between real people and the cartoon animals. And for the records, James Marsden is a fine actor.
Sonic the Hedgehog 2 is pretty much exactly what you’d want out of a sequel. It gives the audience exactly what they wanted, which is probably why the film has a 96% audience score and a 69% critic score on Rotten Tomatoes. It makes references to the memes and culture around Sonic that have grown over the years without relying on those as a crutch for the jokes, and once again I’m amazed at how the studio turned this around. Sonic went from its initial showing leaving fans embittered that the studio either didn’t know or didn’t care about the property, to being one of the best video game film adaptations in the history of video game film adaptations.
I realize this review is incredibly late.