Film Critic Antonio Miguel Aguila is disappointed by video game adaptation Sonic the Hedgehog

English and Film student with a love of literature and cinema.
Published
Images by Paramount Pictures

In 2004 Jeff Fowler created a viral animated video called Gopher Broke. Although it isn’t great there were at least traces of artistic expression. Since then he has worked his way up the ladder to become the director of the new Sonic movie. Receiving backlash from audiences about the original Sonic CGI, he pushed back the movie to re-animate an appearance befitting of the childhood fan favourite hedgehog, maybe even refurbish parts of the movie. However, it appears Jim Carrey’s talent nor the great action spectacle could save the film from its own terrible writing and concept. Logistically, Sonic is a film that just does not make sense. Sadly, and almost mockingly, the studio clearly hijacked this film depriving it of any real enjoyment. This was to be expected, although I didn’t think it would be this bad. I was actually quite excited for this movie and would have been completely fine if it was only a cheap blockbuster adaptation, but even then, it is barely able to do that. The end result is a bad exploitative cash-grab that obeys all the formulas. The only reason this movie isn’t getting a lower rating other than Jim Carrey is that the underpaid overworked animators deserve better.

It was almost as if the director knew [Carrey] would be the only redeeming aspect of the movie

Jim Carrey excelled at well… being Jim Carrey. He definitely stole every scene he was in. After watching the film, I couldn’t imagine anyone better to play the part of Dr. Robotnik. Carrey drew as much captivation out of a minor silly character as he could. While most previous versions of the character in the video games was only hilarious and weird, Carrey adds in a strange and charismatic factor to him so that he is not solely one-dimensional. In this adaptation, he is a disturbed narcissistic manic who doesn’t understand social cues and also thinks he is above them and he is almost always amusing to laugh at. Dare I even say he even made some moments of the character cool.  He wastes not a second. Every word and action held a purpose. His introduction was brilliantly clear. You knew who he was from the onset and he kept this consistently well. I really appreciate the extreme close-ups of his scheming face. And whenever he was onscreen the cinematography actually shifted to an alright maybe even really good standard apart from the rest of the amateurish film. It was almost as if the director knew he would be the only redeeming aspect of the movie. Despite the film being terrible Jim Carrey should be proud to put this in his life’s work.

Conceptually, this was a story that was never going to work. At the end of the first act there was absolutely no reason for the characters to come together at all. At this point in the film, the policeman who has spent his whole life trying to make it into the big city to prove himself risks it all for an annoying blue humanoid hedgehog who he has only just met being claimed as a terrorist threat by every news channel. The blue humanoid hedgehog also admits having been stalking him and his girlfriend the entire time and not disguising the fact that he enacts fantasies of becoming his son. When they all came together as a family in the end, I felt very uncomfortable and creeped out. It was far too unconvincing! It hurts to think somebody got paid to write this, and it hurts even more considering how many producers, and so on approved the concept and executed it. The movie ends with the very terrible life lesson of staying in the same town and not seeking adventure in the unknown and giving yourself up to new challenges that may develop you as a person. The concept of a cop wanting to leave his mundane town to go out and prove himself actually had lots of potential for interest. Unfortunately, this was completely wasted.

The script felt like it was written by a 12-year-old who saw a plethora of action movies

What especially didn’t help was how poorly the movie was carried out. You know the old cinematic method of ‘show don’t tell’? Sonic does the exact opposite every single possible moment it can. There were plenty of ‘show don’t tell’ moments yet somehow none of them made it through. Not a single one. It also does not help that Sonic sounds like the Caucasian loser protagonist in every western remake of a martial arts film. The temp music was horrendously generic. Too many embarrassing self-referential voice-overs. Blatant rip-offs including the Quicksilver scene from X-Men: Days of Future Past, raccoon insults from the Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, and the entire structure of iHop. The script felt like it was written by a 12-year-old who saw a plethora of action movies. Within every scene there is at least one cringe inducing line of dialogue. A lot of poop jokes that only Jim Carrey could make work.

On the other hand, James Marsden’s acting was nice. His interactions with a non-existent CGI character were persuasive enough. At first, I liked how Tika Sumpter’s character was written. Her introductory scene made it seem like her character was an actually interesting person who wouldn’t just be side-lined to the attractive romantic interest with barely little involvement or agency in the story. That was until she was immediately side-lined to the attractive romantic interest with barely little involvement or agency in the story. Throughout the movie there is a suggestion that Lee Majdoub as Agent Stone was going to get an arc and lash back at Dr. Robotnik for constantly abusing him but to no avail. His acting was great along with Tika Sumpter’s and it would have been nice for the ethnic actors to not be side-lined.

Another glaring problem with the movie is: here are the other beloved franchise characters? Couldn’t there have at least been a cameo? Jim Carrey did a fantastic job with Dr. Robotnik but what people really want to see is Sonic square off with Shadow. Furthermore, with Knuckles, Tails and so forth they would have really added onto the spectacle of the film and produced character interactions more meaningful and authentic as suppose to a forced buddy road trip.

Verdict:

Jim Carrey does a fantastic job in terms of staying true to the character while also adding extra layers. He is hilarious and captivating. Only he could have done this job. As for the rest of the movie the spectacle looks great, but it can’t distract from the horrible concepts, storytelling, writing, voice acting, rip-offs, ethnic side-lining and the absence of the other sonic characters. I would give this a lower score, but I feel too sorry for the underpaid overworked animators.

4/10

Sonic the Hedgehog is in cinemas now.

Images courtesy of Paramount Pictures. All rights reserved.

Comments