Sonic the Hedgehog 2 (2022) – Review


“SONIC THE HEDGEHOG 2”

The first Sonic the Hedgehog movie was an unbelievable success, surprising even Paramount and going on to become the highest grossing video game movie ever. With that, plus a sweet merchandising deal, a sequel was inevitable, especially given the post-credit scene. The good news is, most of the team from the first movie are reprising their positions in the second one, with some newcomers added into the mix. Paramount seemed incredibly confident with this entry, announcing that not only did they intend on making a Sonic the Hedgehog 3 following this movie, but that there would also be a Knuckles spin-off series, presumably going onto Paramount Plus (which I’m hearing Netflix is considering taking).

With Jeff Fowler taking back the director’s chair, how does this sequel hold up? Well, the plot is fairly simple; you have Doctor Robotnik (once again played by Jim Carrey) escaping his prison of the Mushroom Planet that he was banished to in the last film thanks to the help of Knuckles the Echidna (played by Idris Elba). Upon their return to Earth, they are seeking out the Master Emerald, the source of ultimate power that Robotnik wants to use for total domination – though he’s convincing Knuckles that he can use it for the greater good, Knuckles wants to use it because his tribe sought it out for their self-preservation. Meanwhile, Sonic is trying to come into his own and find his place on Earth, and after being attacked by Robotnik and Knuckles, he becomes friends with Tails (played by Colleen O-Shaugnessey). They travel out to beat Robotnik and Knuckles to the Master Emerald.

Basically, they are combining the premises of the video game storylines of Sonic the Hedgehog 2 & 3 but are also throwing in a bit of their own original plot points and changing in a couple of plot elements to match the new backstories that the films have created. For example, there’s a throwback to the Master Emerald’s origin and its relation to the Echidna tribe, which has a bit of a relation to Sonic’s mentor, Longclaw, from the first film.

These extra elements that are added into the plot are actually some of the problems that I have with the film. A bigger example of this is the non-CGI cast. There’s one point in this film which went on a bit too long and didn’t really have any funny moments, trust me, you’ll know when you get to it, but it’s the one part of this film which has pretty much nothing to do with the Sonic movie. There’s also a weird sequence in a Siberian bar that comes up, which also feels like it goes on a little bit too long and is clearly meant to reflect the scene from the first movie, but that one didn’t bother me as much.

That being said, this is the Sonic movie that I’ve been waiting for – this is excellent! Despite the fact that the largely human cast doesn’t have as much to do, including Tom and Maddie (played by James Marsden and Tika Sumpter), this film really nails what it needed to be. My biggest complaint in the last one was that they didn’t really take too much advantage of Sonic’s powers outside of his super speed and there weren’t too many elements referencing the video games in there. This film fixes that a ton!

There are references all over the place and it feels like a love letter to video game fans – just small little details like Robotnik’s underling Agent Stone (played by Lee Majdoub) opening a coffee shop and naming it ‘The Mean Bean Company’ as a reference to the puzzle game spin-off ‘Robotnik’s Mean Bean Machine’. There are all sorts of subtle things like that, but not so much that if you’re not a massive Sonic fan that you won’t get a kick out of these scenes.
The film definitely feels like it has more of an action-adventure focus than the first one did, which was more of a road trip movie. Adding Tails and Knuckles into the mix certainly helped things. Speaking of which, the action sequences were fantastic, they really did an excellent job making the CGI creations work perfectly with the background, and it means that the action scenes had great choreography. There’s clearly been a lot of attention put to where certain characters need to be at certain times.

What’s more, all of the characters feel like they have great character archetypes and are definitely fitting more with their video game counterparts. Sonic is very much the same from the first movie, still rather young and has a lot more to learn, but he’s definitely less naive than in the first film which is how he’s become a sort of mentor and big brother figure to Tails in this one, but they definitely are not dumbed down. They kept his whole invention side to him, and also gave him some really cool badass moments. Of course, he’s a bit naive to earth given that he’s only just arrived and is basically following Sonic only because he’s a massive fan and stays with him because he doesn’t want to be alone anymore. Getting Colleen O’Shaughnessey who played Tails in the video games is a fantastic choice, it adds an air of legitimacy to this Tails! I think that they really nailed the dynamic between Sonic and Tails, something that I think is really unappreciated. These two are one of the best pairs in video game history, but I rarely see it come up when lists are put together, so seeing the film do a good job of it does my heart a good.

The big talk has been Knuckles’ appearance in this film and the fact that Idris Elba has been brought in for the role. Now I’ve always said I thought Ben Schwartz was excellent as Sonic and the casting of him and Colleen O’Shaughnessey proved that you could sell a film like this on getting good voice actors who know how to do this kind of job. So, I was a little interested to see how they would take an actor like Idris Elba, who has a very recognizable voice, and I’ll say to Idris’ credit, he does a very good job as Knuckles. There were very few times where I was identifying that I was just listening to Idris Elba in a sound booth. Considering how distinctive of a voice he has, that’s saying a lot. He certainly moulds into the character very well. They luckily kept a lot of his badass nature from the games, which definitely is necessary given that they have to do a few fight scenes between him and Sonic, but they also gave him some of his dopey comic relief aspects to his character which have come about in recent adaptations. There were some remnants of Sonic Boom in there, but fortunately the comedy never overshadows the character too much, and he does still come off as a viable threat.. Honestly, Knuckles is one of the biggest things I enjoyed about the film.

While I’m on the subject, I really think that Ben Schwartz is coming into his own as Sonic. I’m not sure who plays the character better between him and Roger Craig Smith, but I think they’re both playing different versions of the characters..

There are a ton of easter eggs that I could mention that come up in this film, but in order to do so I’d have to spoil the movie, which I really don’t want to do. This is a film that you want to avoid spoilers for prior to seeing it!

I would say in every sense of the word, there’s a real respect for the fanbase of this film franchise. Considering the amount of effort that the team went into just for tiny details, which are excellent!

The only thing to really discuss is Jim Carrey as Robotnik, as he’s playing a way more manic version of the character this time around. It is admittedly just Jim Carrey doing his regular Carrey-isms, he certainly pulls a lot more faces this time around. He resembles the character more in this movie, though, he even has the long moustache and the bald head as well as the red attire. He does do the role well and he seems to be enjoying himself, so despite the fact that it seems to be the character that strays furthest away from the video game counterpart, it does feel like it works for the film. I’m actually kind of hoping that Jim Carrey won’t retire from this franchise after this film, because I would like to see him in the next film to complete the planned trilogy, but, if this is his final role, it’s a good one for him to go out on.

Sonic the Hedgehog 2 is a fantastic film, I had a smile on my face for most of this movie, and I still haven’t quite come down from the high of seeing it. The characters are great, the action is great, the special effects are really cool, and it feels like a love letter to Sonic fans. This is the Sonic the Hedgehog movie I’ve been waiting my entire life to see and it was worth the wait! I loved this movie, and I didn’t go in expecting to love it as much as I did, I was certain I was going to find an area where it didn’t quite work for me, and while I did come to that, it was at least not an area that they really needed to nail. I had my doubts about Jeff Fowler directing these movies when he was first announced, but he has proven that my fears were unjustified, since the team got their act together since that terrible initial design of Sonic.

I think this now is my favourite video game based movie, in terms of live action films that were released in cinemas, and it could certainly challenge a few of my other favourites, like Street Fighter: Assassin’s Fist, I loved it that much! I’m seriously excited to see what will come of Sonic the Hedgehog 3 following the ending of this one.

Stay for the post credits scene no matter what – you cannot skip this one!!
 
Calvin – Nerd Consultant

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The Next Axia6th July 2022
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