‘Sonic the Hedgehog’ fast-paced but only mildly entertaining
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I didn’t have much hope for “Sonic the Hedgehog” after seeing the trailers. They made it look like a cheap, unengaging movie full of lame attempts at humor and too much cuteness. I’m happy to report that “Sonic” isn’t the dumpster fire the trailers sold us. But it’s also far from great.
“Sonic” brings us face-to-face with the title character (Ben Schwartz), a blue “hedgehog” from space who came to Earth trying to escape those who want to wield his super-speed powers for themselves. Wouldn’t you know it, there’s a whole crowd of bad guys led by eccentric genius (is there any other type?) Dr. Robotnik (Jim Carrey) on Earth who want to get their hands on Sonic. Different planet, same situation.
Luckily, Sonic is befriended by Sheriff Tom Wachowski (James Marsden) and this odd couple sets out across the country to recover Sonic’s bag of teleporting rings. Robotnik gives chase, but Sonic still has time to learn about making friends and to teach Tom the value of serving the people he cares about.
This movie actually starts out pretty strong, with the exception of the lame “how did we get here?” introductory voice-over. We see Sonic as a child in a setting that really brings the world of the video game source material to life. The film does a good job of establishing Sonic’s life on Earth and getting us to share the longing he had for belonging.
Then Robotnik shows up, the chase ensues and so much of the connection the movie made with the audience is lost in an onslaught of CGI machines, explosions and hammy acting from Carrey.
In fact, let’s talk about Carrey’s performance. I get that this is a movie designed to hook a new generation of kids on “Sonic” games and kickstart a movie franchise, so the heavy of the movie can’t be too scary. But, for the love of Pete, why do the filmmakers and Carrey make Robotnik an unthreatening villain? Carrey takes the character over the top to a ridiculous level, even for a kid’s movie that’s supposed to be absurdly comedic.
That scene where Robotnik stages a dance number to bad pop music doesn’t help, either. Together Carrey and the filmmakers take a character who should be at least mildly scary and make him impossible to take seriously as a threat. Yeah, that’s what all the drones are there for, to present a threat. But it’s far less effective when the guy running the drones acts like a rejected “Looney Toons” character.
Also, don’t get me started on how the movie’s narrative is yet another regurgitation of the plotline from “E.T.”
All this bad acting and storytelling offsets the good aspects of “Sonic.” As was mentioned, the first act of the movie is pretty solid. The movie bounces along at a brisk pace and never feels slow or gets boring. Although a lot of the jokes don’t land, some of the jokes are quite funny. The big final chase scene is pretty cool, and even though the slow-motion scenes are far from original, they do set up some pretty good gags.
“Sonic the Hedgehog” is far from the worst movie adaptation of a video game. It’s able to get you to empathize with the emotional state of a blue space hedgehog. That means it has to do a few things right. Ultimately, it’s a mixed blessing, with its humorous moments or cool action highlights balanced out by mediocre storytelling and acting.
2 ½ Indy Fedoras out of 5
MPAA Rating: PG
Thanks to Fat Cats in Rexburg for providing screenings for movie reviews on EastIdahoNews.com.