Video game movies have had their share of ups and downs and the saga of the making of the Sonic the Hedgehog movie is no exception. I've been a lifelong Sonic fan and credit the game Sonic the Hedgehog 2 (1992) with shaping my life around video games as a kid.
When a live-action Sonic movie was announced, I was excited and terrified at the same time. Here was a chance to give Sonic a big screen debut, but done poorly and the world will forget about it (or worse). I'm happy to say I saw the Sonic movie this weekend and truly enjoyed it. Here's five things I loved about it as a lifelong Sonic fan...
1. The Sega game Easter eggs
Going into the movie, searching for Easter eggs was what I was most excited about and there are plenty to catch if you've played the games! From names of the games' zones to catch phrases to adorable closing credits to even the "Sanic" meme, I had a smile on my face every time I noticed another Easter egg.
2. Jim Carrey's casting as Dr. Robotnik
After seeing this movie, I can't imagine any other person who could best bring our beloved mad scientist to life. Dr. Robotnik (aka Eggman) has traditionally been seen as a round, egg-shaped man with goofy glasses and a large mustache in the games. Carrey's Robotnik had some physical similarities such as glasses and a silly mustache throughout most of the movie. What I loved the most about the character, though, was that we got a chance to see things from his perspective a little more. There's a scene where Robotnik is dancing to music and it's an absolute delight. Carrey's portrayal of Robotnik was awesome and gave quite a bit of range to what began for us as a 2D character.
3. Supporting character backstories
It's very easy to get caught up in putting all your effort into the title character, especially when it's a video game. I'm sure some people think Sonic could just carry the movie and the supporting cast doesn't matter. James Marsden's character Tom Wachowski didn't seem like all that deep of a guy in the movie's trailer, to be honest. But after seeing the movie, you learn he has a past with his hometown, he's got career dreams outside of what he's currently doing, his sister-in-law can't stand him and he and his wife take turns making sacrifices while the other works on their dreams.
Dr. Robotnik is another character who we don't know a lot about from the original video games other than he's a mad scientists who's got a lot of robot technology. The movie helps you understand his past a bit, even going into him being bullied as a child. Robotnik explains his love for machines and how they always do what they're told, which is why they are more reliable than people.
Old vs New Design. Image: Paramount
4. "The redesign"
If you didn't catch the drama, the Sonic trailer originally came out April 2019 with a November 2019 scheduled release. The trailer was blasted with negativity after seeing the live-action CGI design of Sonic. Fans were overly shocked at Sonic's look and wondered why he looked, well, just plain weird. What was even more unexpected, the movie's director Jeff Fowler tweeted that they would make things right. The character was redesigned and eventually had the release date pushed back to February 2020. A new trailer was released and fans were thrilled to see Sonic look like Sonic!
The fact that Sonic's look was redesigned after negative feedback is important. What's more important is that Sonic fans who voiced frustration with the original design should be supporting the movie by seeing it. I can only imagine the amount of time people put in to fixing his look. Fans who complained on the internet and then were happy after the redesign should show up to the theater.
5. The opportunity for more
The movie certainly ends with an open door to sequel stories. Additionally, a post-credits scene sets up the opportunity for a future movie. I have always felt like Sega was the red-headed stepchild of the gaming family and that it hasn't gotten the attention it deserves. Maybe the winds are changing. Maybe, just maybe, we'll see another Sonic movie in the future.
There were some totally weird parts of the movie, like a brand new owl character in the very beginning. Why create someone new when the Sonic universe has a ton of options? Sonic game music is some of the best video game music out there (I had jazz versions of it played at my wedding) but there wasn't as much recognizable Sonic music in the movie as I had hoped. Movies like Detective Pikachu and Warcraft were jam packed with Easter eggs for the fans. The Sonic movie could have loaded a lot more in and I hope to see more if a sequel comes out in the future. Overall, I was really pleased with the movie and it kept me laughing the whole time.