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Review: Sonic the Hedgehog is unironically wonderful

Sonic the Hedgehog is one of the most recognizable faces not only in gaming but pop culture. He’s taken the spotlight of games, tv shows, crossed-over with Mario, and now, he has his very own movie. This movie has had a very troubled history with many feeling repulsed by his original design but after a delay to give the creators more time to work on it, it’s finally here.
I’m pleased to say Sonic the Hedgehog’s first-ever appearance on the silver screen is genuinely good. Is this movie some major achievement in cinema? No. That said, it’s got a hell of a lot of charm and was a rather incredible surprise.
Sonic, as we already know, is a blue hedgehog who can run at supersonic speeds (get it?). He comes from another planet but after an incident when he was younger, he’s been forced to live on the run and in hiding. He’s currently living quietly on Earth, idolizing a small-town cop named Tom who has no idea he exists. After a string of unlikely events, the two become partnered up where they must go on a roadtrip from Montana to San Francisco while being hunted by the diabolical Dr. Robotnik.

To be frank, I wasn’t expecting Sonic the Hedgehog to be as touching as it was. It’s all about someone who must hide their true self and is suffering from crippling loneliness. You feel a great amount of sympathy for our furry little friend and it turns him into an almost tragic character.
This movie is by no means some sort of drama, it’s a bunch of light-hearted fun but it has plenty of tender moments that hit home. Even though it’s a bit formulaic and follows a lot of tropes seen in family-friendly movies, I still found myself caring about the characters even if their quest wasn’t the most unique.

The chemistry between the two leads is wonderful and creates a beautiful friendship, dare I even use the label of “cute”? Yeah, screw it, it’s cute. The back and forth banter between the two helps sell the idea that Sonic is a real entity in this universe and not just a CG blur. He meshes well with this hyper-real universe.

Sonic The Hedgehog

Jim Carey’s Dr. Robotnik is also a real gem who had me bursting out in laughter with his incredibly obscene but whimsical humor. I never expected to hear a joke about breastfeeding in a movie about an iconic 90s video game character but here we are. Sonic the Hedgehog manages to find that incredibly tough balance of having jokes for kids but also worthwhile ones for the adults so that it never feels dumbed down but also not too mature.

It’s clear there is a great amount of respect held for Sonic and the source material from the filmmakers. While many were concerned this was a quick cash grab after the controversy of his original look, it’s clear Sonic fans are helming the film. The passion shines through in homages in the score and even deep cut references like a character trying to describe Sonic with a drawing of Sanic (if you know, you know).
The film also takes a page out of X-Men’s Quicksilver scenes in a couple of key moments. We see Sonic’s incredible speed as he sees it, in ultra slow motion. It leads to some fun, creative little setpieces that make full use of Sonic’s powers. Director Jeff Fowler knows how to translate the fun that was clearly had making the movie on to the screen and it’s nothing short of wonderful.

The Verdict
As someone who really couldn’t give less of a damn about Sonic and begrudgingly saw this movie, I found Sonic the Hedgehog to be a sometimes cheesy yet charming treat. It works both for casual fans and it’s going to feel incredibly special for die-hard fans. It tugs on the heartstrings, packs genuine laughs, and delivers the Sonic movie many could’ve only hoped for. It seems that Hollywood has finally wrapped their head around how to make good video game movies.

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