Zach’s Zany Movie Reviews: SONIC THE HEDGEHOG

Back when SONIC THE HEDGEHOG was supposed to release November 2019, I wasn’t going to see this movie. It just looked like a conventional kids film with Jim Carrey getting enough Red Bull and pills in him to get back to his over-the-top zaniness we haven’t seen since Bruce Almighty and the rest of the 90s. Plus, that GOD AWFUL Sonic design (seriously, what the fuck were they thinking?). It is one thing to change the design of costumes from a comic book series, to little tweeks here and there from book adaptations, but someone thought it was in their best interest for them to completely overhaul Sonic’s design from the game and turn him into…I’m still not sure what that was. I wasn’t the only one to complain about it. But then the release was postponed until February 2020, because Paramount and the filmmakers got so much damn backlash they knew that if they didn’t change the design that the film would cement itself into being complete box office bomb. But lo and behold, they changed the design, and it just finished out the four day President’s day weekend, finishing in the mid 60 million dollar range domestically, way higher than they projected with the re design. In my opinion, no way would it have cracked $30 mil domestically if they hadn’t had changed it, and considering that the public was told it only cost the company $4 million for the redesign, I’d say that it was a great decision. I didn’t want to be a hypocrite, and combine that with a T-Mobile Tuesday $4 ticket to see the movie anytime I wanted, I saw it late at night, telling myself that even if I got a headache watching it, I at least saved about 6 dollars. Turns out, the movie isn’t that half bad. I even had a little fun with it.

I’m not saying it’s the greatest video game adaptation in the world of all time, I’m just saying I enjoyed myself a bit (especially when finding all the Easter Eggs within since I was an avid player of the game when I was little) and realize it could’ve been much, much worse. And the redesign definitely helped in that decision. Before the movie even started, I needed to get my brain into the right mindset. That this is probably going to be a film mostly for small kids that have never played a Sonic game in their life, and probably a couple of adult jokes in there and a shit ton of Easter Eggs to keep the rest of us entertained. Me readjusting my mind set definitely helped as well. But the film is a little more than just that. It was actually pretty funny with some sight gags and kid jokes as well, it had several really cool and fun slow motion sequences a la X-Men Days Of Future Past, and Jim Carrey and James Marsden actually looked like they gave a damn. That is one bullet point in any kids movie that you have to check off, otherwise it wasn’t a good movie to begin with: whether the adult actors involved actually seem like they wanted to be there. I always think of Paul Giamatti in Big Fat Lair as a very good reference point (no matter what you think of that movie, he gives it his all). And that’s what James Marsden does here. He has to interact and talk to mostly something that isn’t there and he completely pulls it off. Anyone that tells you that James Marsden is not a good actor because of his “shitty” portrayal of Cyclops in the X-Men series is full of themselves. In those films cases, they just didn’t really give him anything to work with other than being jealous of Wolverine the entire time. Here, he is the main human star, and even though his arc is a very cliched one (a home is where the heart is one that’s been done a thousand times), the arc is a complete one, and he makes it believable.

Now let’s get to Jim Carrey. Jim Carrey is probably the most over acting celebrity that has ever lived, but he somehow has that ability to make that over acting believable and most importantly, make it work in the context of the film. If you think pulling off that fine line of zaniness is easy, you don’t really know Jim Carrey or his filmography. Go back and re watch the Ace Ventury films, Dumb & Dumber, Liar Liar, fuck, even watch Cable Guy, the man is quite brilliant in what he does. And if you still doubt me, go back and re watch his more serious stuff like Man On The Moon or The Truman Show, the fact that he can go from zany to sane-y within the drop of the hat shows the range of one of the best entertainers in the business. Here, is no different. Jim Carrey is back in top form in Sonic, making me smile in each and every frame that he showed up in, making me laugh out loud with his antics the first time I think since Bruce Almighty. I think I’ve had one of the biggest laughs of the year in a dialogue exchange with James Marsden that involved a breastfeeding orphan joke, I shit you not. While he looks nothing like Dr. Robotnik (if you’ve seen any trailers and TV spots, that changes by the end of the film), he does a pretty good job representing the over-the-top villainy you would think would come from a character like that out of that video game. Carrey has said that most of the dialogue on the page didn’t end up making it to the screen, and that a lot of it was improve. Could’ve fooled me, he makes everything he does or said feel like it was written beforehand, even a out of context yet funny dance sequence he has in his trailer mini lab type thing. If you’ve always been a Jim Carrey fan, this is definitely a must see on his filmography.

Now, as you know, the Sonic The Hedgehog games don’t really have a plot other than Sonic saving his little woodland creature friends from these hostage capsules and then ultimately defeating Dr. Robotnik and his insane brand of war like vehicles on both land, sea, and air. This is the part of the film that fell flat for me. Instead of coming up with a delicious plot set in Sonic’s home world (which is shown at the beginning of the film, and it looked wonderful), we get another one of those “fish out of water” stories where Sonic ends up coming to Earth to be “safe” and shit. Then he runs into his “protector”, a cop played by James Marsden. Yes, it literally almost rips off the first Transformers movie when it comes to its narrative structure. Alas, after an accidental surge of his power that leads a large area of the U.S. being wiped out of their power temporarily, the Government hires Dr. Robotnik to track down the source of the giant EMP to make sure it isn’t a terrorist attack or something. Dr. Robotnik knows better though, and just wants to capture the creature in order to harness its power…because reasons? Maybe take over the world? It doesn’t really mention that thank God. Anyway, the script and plot are my biggest complaints of the film. It’s been done and done and done many and many and many times before. I wish that screen writers didn’t use Earth as a storytelling crutch and we could get a video game adaptation one day that takes place on the Alien/Mysterious world that character comes from. I understand they make it Earth so that we as humans have something to relate to, but come on, enough is enough, we all have the ability to expand our minds a little to be able to connect on another level.

But other than two other weird parts where they stop at an empty gas station, but when Sonic looks out his window two minutes later there is a noisy and loud Biker Bar next door (but it leads to one of the cool slow motion sequences so it is forgivable) and obvious Olive Garden product placement, the movie is a little fun. I was entertained throughout the short 95 minute run time and I enjoyed seeing Jim Carrey do what he does best. Oh, and the Easter Eggs. There are so many Easter Eggs in this from the videogame it was such a treat picking out even the most elusive and abstract references the filmmakers decided to shove in there. Now while Sonic still looks CGI as fuck, the redesign helped me coax with that problem, but the real magic and what makes him relatable is the great voice work by the funny and great Ben Schwartz. He makes Sonic his own and sounds what I feel the character would sound like if he had a voice in the video games. Overall, this is just a great fun family film to take the whole family too. If you are an adult, seeing this by yourself, and are going nit pick the movie like I almost ended up doing before I let my mind breathe before it started, you probably aren’t going to like it. Kids are going to LOVE this. LOVE IT. If all this money and decent reviews gets Paramount hyped, hopefully it doesn’t go to their heads and they spend their time concocting a sequel that is filled with more love and devotion than this film was (which after the redesign, you can tell that their love grew). And if you manage to catch a blink and you’ll miss it familiar face that is covered by a mask at the beginning of the film, and then manage to stay for the mid credits sequence that really teases what’s to come (and I expected but it was no less fun seeing this sequence go down), you might be able to see a little light at the end of the speed tunnel of a sequel that could possibly blow the original out of the water. I hope so. They just need to take their time with it, and not rush it, even though telling a movie called Sonic The Hedgehog to slow down is pretty damn ironic.

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