Since the beginning, I was pretty skeptical about Paramount’s ‘Sonic the Hedgehog’.
In a previous blog, I said that while the movie didn’t look “unwatchable”, I’d probably avoid rushing out to see it in theaters, and wait ’til it hit On Demand or something similar. I was critical of James Marsden, whose role I said would’ve been better suited for someone like Paul Rudd or Chris Pratt, and I predicted that Jim Carrey would’ve sold and carried the movie for a lot of people, including me. Well folks, having just returned from the theater, I’ve pretty much never been happier to report that I was wrong about pretty much everything.
First off, Sonic’s on-screen counterparts nicely add a human element without making the story too much about them. James Marsden earned his keep here, and while I could still see Paul Rudd or Chris Pratt filling the role as “Tom”, Marsden did his job as the cop who’s basically just along for the ride. You’d expect the human sidekick of a hedgehog that can run 300mph to be useless in comparison, but Marsden’s portrayal of a guy with big city dreams inside of small-town dust bowl was relatable, entertaining, and fitting to the film’s themes. Tom’s character is a suitable second-fiddle to Sonic, and the movie offers a great spin on the classic “we can both learn something from each other” trope.
Jim Carrey’s Dr. Robotnik, however, wasn’t the showstopper I thought he’d be. Is he absolutely perfect in the role, and does he look like he’s having a blast? Of course. Does he have any scene-stealing moments as Dr. Robotnik? Not really. But that’s not for lack of trying, material, or performance – it’s just that the Sonic movie does an excellent job of showcasing who Sonic is, what he stands for, and doesn’t allow the human characters to chew up too much screen time. While Jim Carrey may have been the reasons some folks bought their ticket, the reason they’ll stay in their seats is that the Sonic movie is just straight up good.
Of course, that brings us to Sonic himself, voiced by Parks and Recreation’s Ben Schwartz. Schwartz is excellent as Sonic, and brings all of the classic sassiness, attitude, wisecracks, confidence, and adventurous spirit that’s made Sonic such a household name for the last three decades. Ben Schwartz is easily the best voice portrayal of Sonic to date, and is only further cemented by Paramount’s decision to completely re-design Sonic’s CGI portrayal based on a biblical torrent of fan feedback. Sonic’s image, story, and voice are everything I’d hoped it would be, and it’d be borderline criminal if Ben Schwartz wasn’t called upon again to voice the Blue Blur.
Sonic’s near 30-year history has had ups and downs, inside jokes, memes, bad fan art, an amazing twitter account, tons of chili dogs, and the Sonic the Hedgehog movie does an incredible job paying homage to all of it (seriously, all of it). People who grew up with Sonic will love this movie. Kids who are just finding out about the iconic way-past-cool character will love it too. Sonic the Hedgehog might not be the Citizen Kane of video game movies, but it sure isn’t Gigli, and its way-past-better than anybody thought it would be.