Forget the formulaic road trip cliches, the redesign is fun and Jim Carrey is comical.
Video game movies have a difficult time being accepted by film critics, because of their choices of violence and joyriding. We’ve had dreadful examples in the past like “Doom” or “Rampage,” and mediocre ones like “Pokémon Detective Pikachu” and “Tomb Raider.” And the best ones to be inspired by the digital world would include “Tron,” “Wreck-it Ralph,” and “Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle.”
Now, we have “Sonic the Hedgehog,” based on the worldwide Sega phenomenon, which is noteworthy, because of its immediate decision to redesign the character and push its release back a few months. In the original version, he looked like a blue CGI troll, and in the new version, he actually looks like Sonic. Now, this is more considerate than Tom Hooper’s “Cats.” Shame he did nothing about it.
I’ve never played the actual game, so I’m not familiar with the rules. But this movie lays out a few things: Sonic (voiced by Ben Schwartz) runs faster than Flash or the Roadrunner, and he has gold rings which transport him to other worlds. And it’s also fun for kids, fans, and even those who don’t play video games. I, myself, managed to overcome its cliches to find the levity and energy inside.
Coming on the success of “Batman Forever” and “Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events,” Jim Carrey is back with another villainous role-Dr. Robotnik, who plans to seize Sonic and his special powers. He controls drones with his robotic gloves, has a goofy mustache, and acts like his iconic “Ace Ventura” and “In Living Color” characters. Ergo, he’s hilarious.
The special effects are also fun when we see Sonic throw his rings and how he has to play Quicksilver in various scenes. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, I’m talking how how his speed can sometimes freeze time, so he can cause mischief on his opponents. And they never go “Transformers” AWOL, which is refreshing.
Sonic has to dodge the villain by going on a run-of-the-mill “Midnight Run” road trip with a small town sheriff (James Marsden) to San Francisco, where he must get his magic rings. This segment has to deal with his generic family life-consisting of his veterinarian wife (Tika Sumpter), his pushy sister-in-law (Natasha Rothwell), and his dream of being a big-time cop-and his usual education of Sonic.
Aside from that, “Sonic the Hedgehog” works best when we hear Schwartz’s optimistic voice of Sonic, when we see his perfect character redesign, and when Carrey reminds us of his 90s comedy career. Again, video game movies tend to fall flat on the water, while this one actually works.