It’s happened again! Another cute but infuriating videogame character has made the leap from the confines of its pixellated world to the starry wonderland of Hollywood. But slow your eye roll and un-hoick your judgy pants because this fast and curious hero is actually worth a watch…
Sonic the Hedgehog has reason to be blue, marooned on a strange world after the lure of his super-speed brought one too many power-hungry baddies to his perfect island forcing him to bid a sad farewell to his guardian and his home before tumbling through a golden escape ring into the unknown.
Despite the home comforts he has assembled in his hog cave on earth, Sonic (Ben Schwartz) remains detached from the humans around him. Commanded to hide and equipped with the means to keep running between worlds, Sonic’s desire to belong and his instinct for mischief are temptations too overwhelming to resist.
In contrast to Sonic, Sheriff Tom Wachowski (James Marsden) cannot wait to turn his back on his old life. Frustrated by the ambling pace of patrolling in Green Hills, Tom has his sights set on San Francisco and his heart set on becoming a super cop. Carrying out traffic stops on tortoises and placating the Blue Devil paranoia of the local eccentric have lost their charm.
Unluckily for Tom, the Blue Devil is very real and ready to upend his reality and napalm his life goals. Sonic’s palpable loneliness and boredom become a perfect storm which breaks to reveal Dr Robotnik (Jim Carrey) on his quill-peppered tail. The dastardly villain loves tech as much as he hates other humans and the energy Sonic possesses could elevate his evil to a whole other dimension!
Unlike its furry star, Sonic The Hedgehog understands how to wield its power responsibly. With nostalgic affection for the distinctive space-hog lingering with older Sega gamers, there was a fine line to tread here between innovating for new fans and in-joking for the originals. On the whole, director Jeff Fowler and his team have risen to the challenge.
Pat Casey and Josh Miller’s story cleverly has Sonic pining for connection from afar so we bond with Tom and his wife Maddie (Tika Sumpter) by gatecrashing their movie nights and stalking Tom’s working days. This is a lovely device to showcase their connection and the change about to impact their lives. It also sows the seeds for later comic payoffs.
Producer Neal Moritz’s Fast and the Furious credentials are a boon to this feature which apes the ridiculous action sequences of the later sequels and the forward thrust of relentless pursuit well. Dr Robotnik is as daft a foe as you could wish for and although Jim Carrey is given the gift of solo screentime he has thankfully turned his Carrey-ness back down to 10.
A luxuriant moustache does some villainous heavy-lifting and his continuing delight in physical comedy dilutes the greater excesses of self-indulgence. This is also true of James Marden who sidesteps whacky to turn in a sublime straight man performance even as a CG hedgehog causes unlikely mayhem around him on the road trip from hell.
And herein lies the joy of Sonic The Hedgehog: the mayhem. Sonic’s trademark sprint is smartly used to thwart the bad guys AND compensate for the havoc he wreaks as we follow his POV to dart between clumsy humans and choreograph absolute chaos. These scenes become conflict dioramas and they are brilliantly executed, packed with ridiculous details to giggle over.
Far from being mere fodder to stop holiday fidgeting, surprisingly Sonic The Hedgehog could become your funny valentine too if the other big-screen offerings fail to grab you this weekend. Entertaining and action-packed, anyone in need of some very silly reasons to smile should speed to your cinemas this half-term.
Sonic The Hedgehog hits cinemas on February 14th