Director: Jeff Fowler
Cast: James Marsden, Ben Schwartz, Tika Sumpter and Jim Carrey
Runtime: 1hr 39 mins
Released By: UIP
Opening Day: 20 February 2020
Synopsis: Based on the global blockbuster videogame franchise from Sega, SONIC THE HEDGEHOG tells the story of the world's speediest hedgehog as he embraces his new home on Earth. In this live-action adventure comedy, Sonic and his new best friend Tom (James Marsden) team up to defend the planet from the evil genius Dr. Robotnik (Jim Carrey) and his plans for world domination. The family-friendly film also stars Tika Sumpter and Ben Schwartz as the voice of Sonic.
We don’t blame you for being sceptical of this live-action adaptation of Sega’s video-game of an infamously brash, bright and blue hedgehog; after all, there was every reason to be dissatisfied over how Sonic looked in that first trailer which came out in the spring of 2019.
Yet the additional time and effort to retool the look of the titular character has undeniably paid off, with the formerly grittier-looking Sonic given an adorable ‘oh-so-cute’ makeover that you would melt your heart in an instant.
Whether the rest of the movie underwent any rework at the same time is anybody’s guess, but you’ll be glad to know that it is – like Sonic was meant to be – fast, fun and fascinating.
The opening shot of Sonic dashing through the streets of San Francisco with a wild-eyed and mustachioed Dr. Robotnik (Jim Carrey) in hot pursuit sets a suitably playful tone right from the start, as Sonic rewinds the clock to fill us in on how he had gotten to that point.
What follows is an extended prologue describing how he had landed on our universe after a tragic mishap involving a giant talking owl named Longclaw, an introduction into his current state of living in the sleepy town of Green Hills in Montana, and last but not least, an odd-couple road-trip with the local sheriff Tom Wachowski (James Marsden) to San Francisco in order to retrieve a bag of magical rings.
If that reads like Hollywood formula to you, it is, but it is also undeniably effective, thanks to an abundance of wisecracking (which is as much credit to writers Patrick Casey and Josh Miller as it is to much on-set improvisation), some zippy direction by VFX veteran Jeff Fowler, and Carrey’s unbridled embrace of his ‘90s rubberface days.
The scripting is for the most part inspired, especially with regard to a handful of wry and wacky sequences – the former including a hilarious montage showing just how bored Tom is with his life as a cop in Green Hills (e.g. pointing a speed camera at a tortoise crossing the road) as well as Sonic pretending to be a family with Tom and his veterinarian wife Maddie (Tika Sumpter); and the latter including a a good old-fashioned saloon fight after Sonic is mistaken for a hipster at a country bar.
Though assuming the director’s seat for the first time, Fowler deserves credit for keeping the proceedings zipping along at a lively pace. Besides the aforementioned equivalent of the X-Men movies’ Quicksilver slo-mo spectacle, there is also a thrilling highway chase where Sonic and Tom have to fend off an army of drones of increasingly diminutive size commanded by Dr. Robotnik. The finale, loud, noisy and busy as it is, proves an exhilarating finish, making good use of Sonic’s magic rings for some globe-trotting action.
But if there is one reason and one reason alone to catch ‘Sonic The Hedgehog’, that excuse belongs not to the blue-furred speed demon but to Carrey. It has been a long while since Carrey has let loose like how he used to in ‘Ace Ventura’, ‘The Mask’, ‘Batman Forever’ and ‘The Grinch’, and here, his villainous act is so brilliantly over-the top you’ll lap up every single ridiculous moment. Not only does he make every single zinger pop (who else can you think of who can pull off a line like ‘I’m the top banana … in a world full of hungry monkeys’), Carrey’s hyperactive performance is just as, if not more, animated than Sonic himself.
That said, much credit too goes to Ben Schwartz, the actor behind Sonic’s voice which lends his comic talents to a whole bunch of witty asides throughout the movie. Schwartz also delivers real emotion in his scenes with Marsden, the latter of whom plays the straight but compassionate adult assuredly. There is affable chemistry between the pair, which pays off with unexpected poignancy in a deliberate but nonetheless effective scene towards the end when Sonic crosses off “make a real friend” off his bucket list.
Given the bad press which preceded its release, it is indeed pleasantly surprising that ‘Sonic the Hedgehog’ is this entertaining. Not only have the filmmakers rectified the questionable look of their CG creation, they have also delivered a movie as funny as it is fast. Like we said, it also boasts of a singular reason to catch this live-action family-friendly adventure – namely, the return of Jim Carrey to his signature brand of tomfoolery. Only Carrey can match the sheer vigour of the titular protagonist, and we dare say his villainous turn is as delightful as the entire movie itself.
(Fast, fun and fascinating, this live-action adaptation of Sega's video game franchise is super-charged entertainment for the whole family)
Review by Gabriel Chong