Sonic The Hedgehog

The blue blur.  Back the blue.  Big blue is back.

Please take this review with a mountain of salt.  It is impossible for me to be impartial when it comes to Sonic The Hedgehog.  Especially a movie about Sonic.

It’s pure joy anytime such a big part of your formative years comes to life on the big screen.  Countless hours were spent by millions of people everywhere, passing time and playing the iconic and addictive video games.  Myself included.

The Sonic logo, as well as the various characters; Tails, Knuckles, Dr. Robotnik, etc., are as well known as any in the gaming world.  Cartoons, comics, and other media eventually followed the success of the franchise (which launched and spawned several pieces of mighty SEGA hardware, I might add).  However, as is oftentimes the case, the games were stand alones that didn’t offer much of a backstory.  Aside from collecting some colorful CHAOS emeralds, much hasn’t been made official as it pertains to what we could call a story.  Until now.

The opening credits are a sight to behold for a generation that literally wasted their time away playing the games (remember not having a ‘Save Game’ option?).  One by one, Sonic rings enter your field of vision and form a half crescent above the Paramount mountain (where the stars would be, normally).  A snapshot of one of the original games is presented full-screen and slowly widens to show Outrun, Virtua Fighter, House Of The Dead, and a host of other classics, too many to name, forming a giant SEGA script logo.  Hook, line, and sinker here.

And so the adventure begins.  Sonic is seen running around his home world, playing games, collecting rings, and eventually ends up at his house where his caretaker (a giant owl) also resides.  She explains to Sonic that he must be careful with his gift of sonic speed, lest it be used for nefarious purposes.  Now, I haven’t played any of the games recently but from my memory this is the first indication that I can recall anyone mentioning that Sonic is an alien.  There you go.

The disturbance created from his speed had allowed him to be followed to his home and, unaware of what was going on, Sonic is given a bag of rings that would transport him to another world.  In the ensuing melee, Sonic is told to throw one of the rings on the ground to save himself.  A giant portal opens up and that’s how Sonic comes to planet Earth.  Again, here is another instance of crafting backstory.  The rings actually have a purpose.  Sonic needs them to get from place to place and ultimately, back home.

Realizing he’s a misfit here on Earth, Sonic sets up a nice pad complete with a washer and dryer set that he uses as a treadmill, a ping-pong table that he can use to play against himself, and generally lives a carefree life.  But he’s lonely.  We then see Sonic attaching himself to a surrogate family, a local police officer and his wife, though they are unaware of his existence.  Days and nights are spent by Sonic just observing them through their windows, watching them watch movies, and following the officer around town, wishing he could make himself known.  And this is point number three: they lay the lonesome bit on heavy in this movie but most films don’t do enough to make you care about the main characters.  Although it’s admittedly sappy, Sonic gets it right.

In a fit of anger and rage at his circumstances on Earth, Sonic rolls himself in a ball and blasts himself across a baseball diamond (just like the game), causing a massive power outage.  Enter the evil Dr. Robotnik (played by Jim Carrey).  Robotnik is a government contractor of sorts, employed to investigate the source of the outage.  In short: Sonic makes himself known, the officer and his wife agree to help keep him safe, and the chase is on.

Enough can’t be said about Carrey, who manages to bring the Robotnik character to life in such a meaningful way.  He delicately balances the comedic nature of what most would call a nonsense movie while conveying a sense of maniacal purpose.  Though the Sonic movie won’t win any awards, it’s some of Carrey’s best work.

And that brings us to point number four.  It’s not a serious movie by any stretch, we all know that.  But why does everything need to be?  It’s good nostalgic fun for the older generation who remember the games yet simple enough for the whole family, possibly bringing Sonic to a whole new generation.  It could be a stand alone or a memorable continuation with some backstory.  Either way, it’s solid.

I will say this; the humor is mostly visual.  I recall Sonic being a tad more snazzy and cutting edge than what’s presented here.  Some early prototypes of the character had fans concerned but I think they did a good job of making Sonic a presentable character for this particular movie.

Without giving it away, the ending is visually stunning as well; reminiscent of a game ending boss battle.  Also, and lastly, watch the end credits.  Someone comes looking for Sonic.  He’s yellow, a pilot, and has two tails.  Can’t wait for the next Sonic movie, to be quite honest.  And for those that say this is more of the same and as forgettable as any other cartoon based movie, please keep in mind that Sonic wasn’t originally a cartoon.  It was a video game.  And you’d be pressed to find a better balanced movie on those grounds.

NOTE:

Last I checked, SEGA is a software company that makes games for other systems.  Unlike Nintendo (which started out as a playing card company), SEGA always pushed the boundaries of what it meant to be in the entertainment business.  It could be argued that this sort of thing is what did them in (at least in terms of hardware).  However SEGA has a very rich history.  The word SEGA  comes from a mashup of the words ‘Service Games’.  The company (and this is from memory) was founded in the 1950’s  and provided entertainment to U.S. soldiers at sea via rudimentary pinball and slot machine games.  This, I think, is awesome.  And exceptional.

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