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Sonic The Hedgehog - DVD Review

Sonic The Hedgehog

Review by Rob Carnevale

IndieLondon Rating: 3 out of 5

GIVEN that it suffered the indignity of having to redesign its main character following the backlash that followed the release of its first trailer last year, it’s somewhat surprising to write that Sonic The Hedgehog is a fairly engaging family movie.

Based on the global blockbuster videogame franchise from Sega, and directed by Jeff Fowler, the film isn’t without some obvious flaws (given the derivative nature of its screenplay) but it does have a couple of aces up its sleeve in the form of Jim Carrey, rolling back the years to some of his zanier material, and the always-reliable James Marsden.

After a brief prologue in which a young Sonic (voiced by comedian Ben Schwartz) finds himself exiled to Earth from his home planet by a giant owl for his own safety, the action skips forward to the present day as a now grown-up Sonic lands himself on the radar of a big city aspiring local cop (Marsden) after causing an electrical outage that raises the suspicions of the US government.

It isn’t long before Sonic and cop are forced to team up to outsmart the chasing officials, led by Carrey’s Doctor Robotnik, thereby creating a somewhat typical mis-matched buddy routine that inevitably takes them to the big city for an equally predictable effects-driven showdown.

Forgettable nature of the plotting aside, Fowler’s movie is as engaging as it is because of the quality of its central players.

Carrey, in particular, chews his way through the scenery in classic Carrey mode, referencing some of his earlier comic creations, while also keeping things fresh and [mostly] child friendly for the young audience. He’s OTT, for sure, but he ensures that proceedings are given an extra zip whenever he’s on the screen.

Marsden, on the other hand, trades on his endearing everyman quality to create a genuinely warm central character. His relationship with Sonic is nicely played, while his repartee with Carrey also succeeds in delivering some witty interplay between the two of them.

Sonic, meanwhile, largely overcomes the criticisms initially levelled at his looks to emerge as a mostly likeable protagonist, albeit one who – thanks to Schwartz’s vocals – strives a little too hard to channel the type of motor-mouthed comedy that Ryan Reynolds excels in. It’s also fairly obvious that the film is seeking to achieve the same kind of franchise-building appeal as last year’s Pokémon offering, Detective Pikachu (which also starred Reynolds).

But even though the film clearly has one eye on the future, and borrows shamelessly from many better sources, there is a crowd-pleasing quality to Sonic The Hedgehog that makes it far more fun than anyone could initially have dared to predict. Fowler deserves some credit for maintaining a decent balance between the comedy, effects and drama.

Hence, as computer game adaptations go, this has to rate as one of the more successful, while the possibility of a sequel is by no means as disturbing or dispiriting as it could have been. Carrey certainly deserves another chance to let his Robotnik run riot.

Certificate: PG
Running time: 100mins
UK Blu-ray & DVD Release: June 8, 2020

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