Review: Sonic the Hedgehog 2

After a pretty successful first outing, the sequel has some of the hero’s… overconfidence.

Doctor Ivo Robotnik has returned from being marooned on an alien world, hellbent on destroying the blue hedgehog hero that put him there. But he isn’t alone; a new adversary joins him, while Sonic himself gains a new ally.

This is a Sonic movie for all Sonic fans, we have: Sonic, Tails, Knuckles, Dr. Robotnik, giant robots, ancient temples, Green Hills, rings, bi-planes, snowboarding, a “surprise” cameo, the master emerald, and of course… James Marsden getting into hilarious antics at Natasha Rothwell’s wedding in Hawaii, where a secret organisation has planted an agent as the groom!

What do you mean Sonic fans don’t want that last one?

Yes, Sonic the Hedgehog 2, at times, feels like the Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen entry of the series. But admittedly, only at times.

Let’s get the rough stuff out of the way.
The first film was an enjoyable beginning for the Sonic movies. Fish-out-of-water storyline, set on Earth, sure sure, what else would they do? Origin story for Dr Robotnik. Sorted. But what about the sequels? Especially sequels that start introducing the avalanche of Sonic supporting characters such as Tails and Knuckles?
This sequel has an identity crisis. On the one hand, we have all the colourful and fun characters of the original material, the Sonic the Hedgehog video games, and on the other hand we have all the human characters from the first film. As well as the supporting human characters from the first film. Yeah, we can’t deny any of them screen time… apparently.

There was an audible (repeat: audible) disconnect from the audience in the theatre when the film went off on this long, long sequence with Tika Sumpter, Natasha Rothwell, Shemar Moore at their wedding. With Rothwell striding around in slow-mo while wearing her wedding dress, seeking revenge on Shemar Moore’s rabbit-in-headlights groom-turn-secret agent. Golf carts are destroyed, lighting rigs explode, children in the audience are bored, and adults don’t know what they are watching anymore.
All of this is irrelevant. As is the random Scandinavian dance-off that Sonic and Tails have (although this one is more in keeping with the bar-brawl in the first film, and includes the lead character.)

Sonic the… Hedgehog 2. Apparently.

It really did a disservice to the movie, and definitely felt like 20 minutes could have been cut out or repurposed. The film has purpose for Tika Sumpter and James Marsden, with the rough but ready subtext of Sonic’s headstrong and juvenile personality. There is… something of an arc for the character, but it is rushed along without much emotional weight at all.

Almost like the film could have used a few more minutes doing something else.

There is also… way too many pop culture references. One might have hoped the trailer had exclusive extra ones thrown in, but no, they are almost constant.

But it isn’t all bad.
Chiefly, Jim Carrey is still a riot as the evil and scheming Dr Ivo Robotnik, now sporting “a brand new stache!”, a host of robots, and an unhealthy obsession with finding the master emerald. We also have Idris Elba as Knuckles the Echidna, who was hinted at in the first film, and Collen O’Shanussy as Tails the Fox. Both newcomers are excellent and extremely faithful to their video game counterparts, and the interplay between them and Sonic is enjoyable and exactly what we want to see in the sequel.

Most of the action sequences are on point too. There’s an all too brief sequence in an ancient temple that could have been straight from a Sonic video game, and an obligatory snowboarding sequence that also could have been straight from the franchise.

Oh wait, yes, it is a Sonic movie. There it is.

All of these things are a delight to see on the big screen, as dumb as they are. The film straddles the line of faithful adaptation and bizarro-committee-built gibberish.

Like the first film, it misses out on some music cues. The more recent Sonic video games have very distinct soundtracks (I’m looking at you, Crush 40!) and these films really could use a boost of ’90s butt-rock.

So it does as much good as it does bad. For all the fun character moments, action sequences, and Jim Carrey mugging, there’s a needless pop culture reference or an overextended scene of characters we don’t care about.

Honestly, who watched the first film and remembered Wade well enough to demand him be in the sequel?

Additional Marshmallows: Jim Carrey has just announced he may retire from acting… The imminent third movie might not have him in it, which would be a huge shame. If you wonder why this film gets a 2.5/5, it is almost entirely for his turn as Robotnik.

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