The hedgehog mascot for Sega makes his big-screen debut in Paramount Pictures, Sonic the Hedgehog. Directed by Jeff Fowler with a screenplay by Pat Casey and Josh Miller, Sonic the Hedgehog is an adaptation of the classic video game series. If you don’t know the game, the basic plot centers around a hedgehog who runs at supersonic speeds.
When we first meet Sonic, he is the ward of Longclaw, the Owl on another planet. Longclaw urges Sonic to hide his powers, however, due to his youthful and mischievous nature, he doesn’t listen. After narrowly escaping an abduction attempt by echidnas, Sonic is forced to leave his home planet. Using a bag of rings that serve as a portal to other worlds results in Sonic ending up on earth.
Over the next decade, Sonic spends his life as a recluse in a small Montana town. One night, Sonic’s lack of friends and family gets the best of him, and in despair, he runs laps around a baseball field, which knocks out power across the state. With Dr. Robotnik (Jim Carey) hot on his trail, Sonic seeks out the help of the town sheriff, Tom Wachowski (James Marsden), and his veterinarian wife Maddie (Tika Sumpter) to help him leave the planet.
Adaptions of video games to the film medium isn’t a new trend. While some of them have been good (Need For Speed, Mortal Komabt and Hitman), others (Super Mario Bros., House of The Dead, and Max Payne) were downright terrible. After the initial trailer release for Sonic, it seemed like the first film appearance of one of my favorite video game characters would be a one and done due to the design of the character. Thankfully the studio listened to the fans and went back to touch up the effects.
One of the critical strengths of Sonic the Hedgehog is the film’s script. Pat Casey and Josh Miller’s use of the standard fish out of water story, works well and creates a grounded story arc for Sonic. Too often, video game film adaptations try too hard with their plot. By giving Sonic a simple story background, the film ends up working better.
In terms of casting, James Marsden and Tika Sumpter have a natural chemistry on screen. Still, it’s Jim Carey’s Dr. Robotnik who turns out the best human performance in the film. Carey’s natural improv style is on full display, and the many humorous moments in the movie belong to Carey.
Ben Schwartz provides the voice of Sonic, replacing Roger Craig Smith from the games. I wasn’t too well versed with Schwartz’s work before this film, so using an unknown was a wise choice. Schwartz gives Sonic a natural dry wit that works well with the film’s Meta references. If I had one complaint about the movie, it would the film’s closing soundtrack. While I am a hip hop fan, I would’ve preferred a new version of JJ Fad’s “Supersonic” as opposed to the ear torture of “Speed me up.”
Sonic the Hedgehog is the best video game adaptation to hit the big screen in a long time. Impressive special effects and a hilarious performance from Jim Carey make the film worth the trip to your local theater.
Final Grade B