There has long been debate surrounding videogame movies and their quality. Finding the balance between effective cinematic form while pleasing a dedicated fanbase has been an elusive formula for many filmmakers over the years. However, after his breakout success in 2020 with SEGA’s mascot, director Jeff Fowler has seemingly cracked the videogame movie code with his charming sequel, Sonic the Hedgehog 2.
Based on the long-running videogame franchise of the same name, Sonic the Hedgehog shocked the world in 2020 by becoming one of the highest-grossing movies of the year. It was a film that simultaneously rallied fans who have been with the character for decades, while also introducing a whole new generation to the fastest creature in popular media. In short, it was a lot to live up to.
However, with more jokes, more fun, and more creativity, Sonic the Hedgehog 2 is one of those rare cases where a sequel manages to live up to its predecessor. And even rarer a case – it beats the first movie in terms of capturing the heart and soul of the game franchise on which it sets out to adapt for the big screen.
Set nearly a year after the events of the first movie, Sonic the Hedgehog 2 wastes no time diving into its charmingly straightforward plot that is full of adventure, and predictable self-discovery. Sonic (Ben Schwartz) and Sheriff Tom (James Marsden) are still living together in the quiet town of Green Hills. But, our blue friend hasn’t exactly found his place on Earth just yet, after trying and failing to be the self-proclaimed superhero, ‘Blue Justice’. However, after Tom and his wife Maddie (Tika Sumpter) go off to Hawaii to attend a wedding, leaving him behind, Sonic is forced to embrace his true heroic destiny once a familiar evil moustached face comes a-knocking.
Dr Robotnik (Jim Carrey), who was previously marooned on a mushroom planet at the end of the last film, has fully transformed into a bald-headed and ‘cracked’ evil genius. Sporting his new twirled moustache and hilarious over the top attitude, he has made his way back to Earth after forming an alliance with a certain red echidna, Knuckles (Idris Elba). Luckily, Sonic isn’t completely alone while facing this new team-up, as Miles “Tails” Prower (Colleen Ann O’Shaughnessey) comes to his rescue, and informs him about why the newly introduced Knuckles is seemingly hell-bent on punching him into oblivion.
Sonic the Hedgehog 2’s plot heavily leans into the videogames of the franchise. The story revolves around the Master Emerald, an ultimate power source that was first introduced in the 1994 game Sonic the Hedgehog 3. In the film, we learn that Knuckles is adamant on reclaiming the relic for his fallen tribe’s honour, while Robotnik is greedily planning to use its power for his own dastardly mechanical deeds. Sonic and Tails begin a globetrotting adventure, in order to reach the Master Emerald first and save the world from Robotnik’s steely clutches in the process.
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Written by Pat Casey, Josh Miller, and John Whittington, Sonic the Hedgehog 2 manages to weave decades worth of videogame lore into a digestible family movie. Feeling like its own property while also holding the essence of the IP’s legacy, the script knows its source material and feels like a competent love letter to Sonic. The inclusion of the Master Emerald isn’t the only videogame and pop culture reference in this film; there are tons of easter eggs and plotlines that feel reminiscent of SEGA and playing videogames in general.
The flick’s larger-than-life and striking cinematography replicate the feeling of watching a fast-paced platformer level play out before your eyes. Similarly, the vibrancy of the scenery and the strong bursts of colour in character designs also seem to capture the saturated colours seen in the original Sonic games too. For long-time fans of the franchise, this movie is packed with love and titbits that your nostalgia can latch onto. Young children will also undoubtedly be sucked into the attractive and exciting world that Fowler and his team have crafted – reminding us that Sonic the Hedgehog 2 is a movie for everyone, both new and old fans alike.
However, all the fun and reverence aside, Sonic the Hedgehog 2 isn’t perfect. Being 30 minutes longer than the first movie, the film’s pacing does falter at points thanks to multiple sub-plot lines that distract from Sonic’s main Master Emerald questline. Moments such as the Hawaii wedding that Tom and Maddie attend (and later accidentally ruin), while hilarious at points, overstay their welcome, taking away from enjoying an otherwise punchy and exciting film.
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The movie is also, as expected, filled with cheesy dialogue that at points can leave you cringing slightly. Its themes on heroism and family that we have all seen countless times before in Hollywood are continuously brought up and may induce a few eye rolls from older audience members. As you can probably tell from my assessment of this sequel so far, Sonic the Hedgehog 2 is predictable, has some bad puns, and doesn’t try to think too far out of the crowd-pleasing box. But, saying that, I also can’t deny that its safeness and charm work, or the joy that its characters continue to bring to the table.
Seeing Jim Carrey fully embrace the mad Robotnik completely uninhibited is one of the most entertaining things I have seen so far this year. Similarly, Idris Elba as Knuckles is delightful and proved to be a perfect casting for the big-fisted character. While Colleen Ann O’Shaughnessey as Tails stole the show, bringing the level of voice-over work in the film to the next level. In some aspects, Sonic himself was overshadowed by his co-stars, as the excitement of the new characters and their stories grabbed our attention over his personal character growth during this new adventure.
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However, did I enjoy the movie or crave chili dogs less because of these few faults? No. Charmingly referencing several videogames in the series, while also delivering on laughs, and a wholesome story, here is a kids movie that is everything I expected in the best possible and predictable way. A new sure-fire family favourite, Sonic the Hedgehog 2, is guaranteed to leave you smiling.
Sonic the Hedgehog 2 is set to hit theatres on April 1 in the UK and on April 8 in the US.
Sonic the Hedgehog 2 review
Full of videogame references and heart, Sonic the Hedgehog 2 is a new sure-fire family favourite.