Directed by Jeff Fowler. Cast: James Marsden, Ben Schwartz, Tika Sumpter, Natasha Rothwell, Idris Elba, Jim Carrey. 15, 122 minutes.
Sonic the Hedgehog’s “must be quick” catchphrase apparently applies to film production plans as well. We barely had time to process the existence of his first film when a sequel was greenlit, hitting theaters this week just two years later. It’s impressive for a franchise that nearly tipped over before the first film was even out, though – as an early trailer revealed its cobalt blue, raunchy protagonist now looked like a human in a furry morph suit. The redesign cost $5 million (£3.8 million) and added five months to the film’s production. And although the end product was essentially just a riff on the live action Alvin and the Chipmunksit was so appealing to audiences (or, more likely, the children in the audience) that it grossed more than $300 million (£228 million) at the worldwide box office.
Unfortunately, you can tell that the follow-up was shot quickly. Returning director Jeff Fowler and Sonic’s voice Ben Schwartz clearly have a great affection for the character – which is understandable given that many people spent a good chunk of their childhoods loop-de-looping this tiny creature on their Sega to have Genesis consoles made. Feisty and precious, Sonic is voiced by Schwartz with tongue-in-cheek naivety. But at no point here – or during the last film – does it feel like anyone has actually figured out how Sonic works as the center of a live-action film.
The first sound was a fish-on-water tale about an alien creature that crash-lands on Earth and finds a makeshift family in Sheriff Tom Wachowski (James Marsden) and his wife Maddie (Tika Sumpter). Its sequel functions vaguely as a Marvel-esque tale of great power and great responsibility. It begins with Sonic rolling around San Francisco under the guise of “Blue Justice,” doing a disastrous job fighting crime. Tom describes him as “ruthless”. He’s really just a kid who needs time to grow. It’s a bit of a confusing conceit, as there’s no real context in which to understand how immature Sonic is supposed to be – he has the voice of a grown man, and we’re never taught the space hedgehog’s life cycle to even understand how long do these things live.
Meanwhile, the megalomaniac Dr. Robotnik (Jim Carrey), exiled on a mushroom planet, rescued by Knuckles (voiced a little too sensually by Idris Elba), a red space echidna whose people are the sworn enemy of Longclaw, Sonic’s late adopted mother. Knuckles and Dr. Robotnik team up to find the Master Emerald, which allows its wielder to summon anything the mind imagines – compared in the film to the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man ghostbusterssounds a lot like the powers of the Green Lantern though.
Luckily, Sonic has a newfound ally in the form of Tails (Colleen O’Shaughnessey, the only returning actor from the game), who’s a fox with two tails who can whip them around like helicopter blades. He came from who-knows-where and is apparently more of a kid than Sonic, leading to Sonic showing up as an accidental father figure. I’m sure this all makes perfect sense to hardcore fans sound Games, but the film has no idea how to structure these references in a way that makes them feel readable to a general audience.
That extends to his treatment of broader pop culture – Sonic references Marvel’s Winter Soldier, the feud between Vin Diesel and The Rock, and Schwartz’s own persona Parks and Recreation. But there are no jokes. They are only things that you recognize. The film also doesn’t know what to do with Carrey. He stands around trying to turn parts of the performance into jokes, grumbling and overemphasizing every line. soundThe post-credits scene hints that a third film is in the pipeline. Hopefully by then these films will have figured out what they are actually trying to achieve.
https://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/films/reviews/sonic-the-hedgehog-2-review-b2047947.html Sonic the Hedgehog 2 review: Idris Elba voices an oddly sensual echidna in a bewildering sequel