Sunday, 24 April 2022

Sonic the Hedgehog 2 Movie Review: Furry, Fast and Fun

Written by Pony Princess. 


Sonic The Hedgehog 2 is released in Malaysian cinemas nationwide on the 21st of April 2022.

Growing up in the 90s, Sonic was my childhood. I became a devoted Sega fan ever since I was awestruck by the anthropomorphic blue speedy hedgehog who burst onto screen in full 16-bit pixel back in 1991. Sonic's immediate appeal compelled me to repeatedly play the game for countless hours.  Like any fan, I faithfully followed the blue blur as he continued to evolved into a modern look and hop to different gaming and media platforms and finally to the cinematic universe. 


Sonic 2's officially release date in North America was scheduled on the 2nd of April while the Malaysian release was about 2 weeks later. So I literally had to dodge spoilers that flooded social media and Sonic fan groups. Finally,  on 21st April 2022, Sonic 2  arrived in Malaysian cinemas with the famous duo to greet us on premiere day.

Sonic (and Tails now shown) are visiting GSC & TGV Cinemas this month. Check with local cinemas for schedule.

Sonic 2 the movie takes off after the first one where Sonic (Ben Schwartz) is now happily living under the same roof with Tom and Maddie Wachowski. (James Marsden and Tika Sumpter) He has become a sort of surrogate son to them, living a carefree life while secretly aspiring to emulate his heroes from comic books. However, his arch enemy Dr Robotnik (Jim Carrey) long thought to be banished in the mushroom planet has escaped and allied with another imposing alien creature in the form of Knuckles the Echidna.(Idris Elba) The evil doctor is now not only determined to get even with our blue friend but learned about the existence of a mysterious gem called the Chaos Emerald that is capable of infinite power. Coming to warn Sonic of the impending danger is another new yet familiar character to the Sonic universe in the form of an alien fox with twin tails called Miles Tails Prower. (Colleen O' Shaughnessy) Tails first made his appearance much to fan's delight during the previous movie's end credits. Together the duo with the help of their human friends must work together to put a stop to Dr. Robotnik's nefarious plans of taking over the world.   


An alternative poster of Sonic the Hedgehog 2 pays homage to the classic SEGAGenesis/Megadrive console Sonic game cover art (1992)

Directed by Jeff Fowler, Sonic 2 is even bigger, grander and just as cool as the first. The movie runs for two hours and two minutes (that makes it 2.2). 


The cast includes the wise cracking Ben Schwartz reprising his role as the movie's titular protagonist, Sonic the Hedgehog. From the get-go, Ben has injected his personality into the blue blur which brings greater character depth to Sonic who was previously a mascot gimmick designed to sell 16-bit game consoles to teenage kids. 

Ben Schwartz is the voice of Sonic the Hedgehog. His favourite Sonic game is the classic Sonic the Hedgehog 2 (1992)

Paramount's adaptation on Sonic has not only the hedgehog's cool attitude intact but enhanced with Ben's witty humour with comebacks dotted with pop culture references to keep both adults and children entertained. 

Children will find Sonic's impressionable, fun-loving and child-like nature particularly relatable. Fans of the game who are now all grown up or in their teens (depending on which generation of Sonic games they grew up with) will find the smirking hedgehog adorable with the familiar cool due with the attitude.


The biggest win to Sonic fans is of course the inclusion of Colleen O' Shaughnessy who reprised her role as Sonic's sidekick and BFF Miles Tails Prower. Since 2014, Colleen is THE original voice for the twin tailed fox from the Sonic games and animated series. Fans are ecstatic that they get to enjoy Colleen's performance on the big screen with the same kind of personality consistent with the original material. Colleen's debut is also a huge step forward for voice actors in general since it is rare for a voice actor involved with the original source material to get cast in a big-budget Hollywood film based on it. (Source: https://www.thegamer.com/sonic-movie-tails-cast-colleen-oshaughnessey/) 


Colleen O Shaughnessy is the only voice actor from the video game to reprise her role in the live action movie. She and Ben Schwartz coincidentally shares the same birthday too.

As they say, a good hero is only as good as its villain. Jim Carrey,  is back and is bigger with badder Robotnik antics and now spots the iconic bushy moustache from the games. While in the first movie, Carrey steals the spotlight with his larger than life, Jim Carrey-ness, this time he feels less dominating as if the directors are consciously making room for the new characters to shine in the movie universe. 


With Paramount confirming the upcoming sequel Sonic 3, fans are left pondering about Jim's involvement in the future since his announcement about retiring. 

His uncanny pairing with Knuckles the Echidna who is Sonic's arch nemesis from the game is not only a force to reckon with  but also opens up an avenue for more laughs as the tough but literal minded Knuckles adapts awkwardly to society and Earth's customs. Knuckles's adaptation to film is probably one of the best seen in the Sonic universe. No one in the Sonic fandom could predict that a celebrity like Idris Elba to become the voice of Knuckles. In the Sonic universe, Knuckles's image is not the most inconsistent to a point of being reduced to a buff jock archetype in a particular recent Sonic animated series. (Fans will know what I am talking about.)  


A tv-series spin off for Knuckles is in the works. 

Whatever it is, this echidna is in dire need of restoration. The film actually delivers this by solidiying original Knuckles tough nut personality, restoring the beloved character's canon status with Idris Elba delivering his role with finesse (albeit minus the sexiness) Knuckles is the yin to Sonic's yang so first time viewers with no context to Sonic from games will likely find a favourite in one or the other.



The settings and graphics in this movie is rich and varied. Sonic's adventure takes you from the city to tropical island of Hawaii to ancient ruins and snowy ice cap mountain peaks which creates a sense of an adventure of epic proportions. In that respect, it feels  like a strong nod to the Sonic games where the player guides Sonic across different exotic locations in pursuit of Dr. Robotnik. The movie's interpretation of technology with Dr. Robotnik's drones, gadgets and other high tech machinery adds a nice touch of sophistication and maturity to a franchise that is originally aimed at younger audiences. Dr Robotnik's slower, sleek and metal machinery contrasts nicely against the bright colour fur balls zipping across the screen. In the final showdown, the final boss in the form of Dr Robotnik's giant robot is a direct reference to the game from Sonic the Hedgehog 2. The interpretation on the silver screen is executed brilliantly, not looking like a jarring piece of cheesy mecha right off the games but a genuinely imposing and believable threat. 

You don't want to mess around with Doc.

One of the main highlights of the film are the characters whose  personalities are as bright as their alien fur. The relationship between best buddies Sonic and Tails are nothing short of endearing. While it was never explained how Tails met Sonic the games, the movie gives us an original spin on their meeting and took its time to introduce and build the growing friendship and bond. The youngest of the two, Tails comes across as uncertain and looks up to Sonic as big brother sort of figure. Sonic's gradual transitioning from an impulsive kid to a protective and caring brother figure just seems natural. There is definitely one scene or two that will leaves you feeling warm, fuzzy and frantically searching for fan art or fiction.  

Sonic and Tails sibling like relationship is heartwarming.


The introduction of Knuckles too was exceptionally well executed. Although admittedly my first impressions on Idris Elba was mixed. It was hard picturing the man known for commanding roles as the voice behind a furry echidna. Yet, it turns out that no nonsense, authoritative charisma synonymous with Idris Elba worked astonishingly well for Knuckles. The movie took its time to create a solid and believable relationship with Sonic which started off antagonistic and transitions into an empathic, genuine connection united by a common cause.

Pick your favourite. Sonic or Knuckles.

Putting the trio together creates a great balance of personalities and all the more engaging to follow. Sonic fans and gamers will no doubt be struck by the nostalgic rush when the three iconic characters fighting together side by side, a scene which reminiscent that of the 2008 game Sonic Heroes. 

A great balance of personalities in the hero shot. 

Unfortunately, the movie is not without its flaws. While the animated characters shine brightly, not much can be said about the human characters. Now the humans feels out-of-place as if they are squeezed into the story as a temporary respite or comic relief from the CGI characters. For one, Agent Stone (Lee Majdoup) may seem entertaining to some as Dr Robotnik's devoted lackey but personally, it did nothing for me. It feels like the director is still struggling to find a balance between the main characters and human companions. When it comes to the human side of the story, the movie just loses its momentum with mediocre characters. Aside from Tom and Maddie who is directly related to Sonic and the G.U.N. personnel that will be tied to Dr Robotnik and possibly in future sequel (hint, hint no spoilers), the rest falls flat. Considering the story direction, we will probably be seeing more human characters in the upcoming movie and hopefully by then, the writers are able to mesh them better into the story. The scene in Hawaii is supposedly meant to highlight some major events in the plot which is more light hearted in tone compared to the rest of the scenes. But its messy inclusion felt unnecessary long.  


We are just as confuse to why are you here in the story.

Overall, the whole premise of Sonic 2 the movie centers on the theme of what it means to be a hero, the importance of friends, family and team work.  Here the movie thoroughly  explores Sonic's vulnerabilities where he can get hurt, gets his face shoved into sand and is willing to accept help from his friends.

Audiences get to see Sonic growing as a character from the impulsive adrenaline hero wannabe to a thoughtful, caring figure with a strong desire to protect his friends and family. The film is able to deliver what the games could not by giving added depth to Sonic's purpose.

So is this movie cool enough to watch?


Sonic 2 the movie is hugely entertaining and fun to watch especially if you have a family with young kids. Its action packed, comedic content blend with heartwarming scenes and lovable characters with leave you with impressions that you can remember from the film long after you have watched it. The only downer are the people scenes that feels a bit long and stretches the film much more than necessary. 

The story has a solid plot to boot and with the trio strongly established, the story has potential expand beyond is original game source. Having said that, the movie already feels like its ready to launch away from the games and evolve into something far more original befitting the cinematic universe. A third sequel or Sonic 3 is confirmed to be in the works and fans can do what they know best and speculate. However, as Jeff Fowler is known to listen to fans and delivers what he promises, whatever creative direction he wish to take with Sonic, fans are definitely there to support.

Its a film that definitely delivers and lives up to fan expectations and more. For those who grew up with the game with plenty of easter eggs that will make you rewatch it just to spot them all. 

My only qualms about Sonic 2 the movie is not related to the film per say.  I observed that  this franchise despite its success in the box office worldwide is sorely lacking in merchandises that one can take home as a memorabilia long after the movie ended. For a newcomer movie franchise, there's understandably very little of on ground promotional activities, at least in Malaysia. 

To date, Sonic 2 the movie has made 246.8 million USD (over RM1 billion) worldwide and becoming a hit for Paramount. With this kind of success and with the numbers to boot, I hope in the upcoming movie, fans of Sonic or not we get to see the kind of hype and promotion that's often geared towards established existing super mega franchises. 


Sonic the Hedgehog 2 is now showing in Malaysian cinemas nationwide.


Disclaimer: Sonic the Hedgehog is copyright by SEGA and the movie rights with Paramount Pictures. Materials used in this article are for fan engagement only.

Thursday, 21 April 2022

Star Trek: Prodigy ventures Where No Man Has Gone Before

 

The last 5 years seems to be a second Golden Age for Star Trek. The first Golden Age dawned in 1987 with Star Trek: The Next Generation followed by 3 television series for over 600 episodes until 2004, plus 6 theatrical movies. After a long hiatus off-air, the rights owner of Star Trek, CBS Studios, embarked on a revival of the venerable sci-fi franchise with launch of Star Trek: Discovery in 2017 for streaming television. This was soon followed by Star Trek: Picard and Star Trek: Lower Decks in 2020, each offering a different flavour of Trek to longtime fans as well as new viewers.

Most recently, STAR TREK: PRODIGY is the latest to join the roster as the 10th Star Trek television series – aiming to recruit the next generation of Trekkies. It's set to premiere in Southeast Asia on Nickelodeon this 25 April 2022 at 7pm Malaysian time. The highly-anticipated animated series comprises 10 episodes for its 1st season, with the series running its full course from 25 Apr to 6 May, on weekdays. Subsequently, episode reruns will continue to air in the same timeslot.


Developed by Emmy® Award winners Kevin and Dan Hageman (Trollhunters,  Ninjago), Star Trek: Prodigy is the first Star Trek series aimed at younger audiences, and follows a motley crew of young aliens who must figure out how to work together while navigating a greater galaxy, in search of a better future. These six young outcasts know nothing about the starship U.S.S. Protostar they have commandeered, but over the course of their adventures together, they will each be introduced to Starfleet and the ideals it represents.

Kate Mulgrew (Star Trek: Voyager) reprises her role as Kathryn Janeway, but as a hologram for this series. Who better to guide the young crew and the next generation of dreamers than one of the most renowned Starfleet Captains of the Federation? Hologram Janeway will serve as the built-in Emergency Training Hologram on the U.S.S. Protostar. Astute Trekkies might notice that Hologram Janeway is often seen with a coffee cup in her hands, sharing Captain Janeway’s well-documented love of coffee!

Kathryn Janeway returns as an Emergency Training Hologram voiced by Star Trek: Voyager captain herself, Kate Mulgrew

Kate Mulgrew stated, “I have invested every scintilla of my being in Captain Janeway, and I can’t wait to endow her with nuance that I never did before, in Star Trek: Prodigy. How thrilling to be able to introduce to these young minds an idea that has elevated the world for decades. To be at the helm again is going to be deeply gratifying in a new way for me.”

She won’t be the only Star Trek alumni to join the adventure - Robert Beltran from Star Trek: Voyager will also reprise his role as Chakotay, now promoted to Captain. Watch out for more familiar voices and other Easter eggs popping up throughout the series – from the infamous Mr. Spock to Dr Beverly Crusher.

Voice cast (left to right): Dal voiced by Brett Gray, Gwyn by Ella Purnell, Jankom Pog by Jason Mantzoukas.

Other members of the Star Trek: Prodigy voice cast include:

  • Brett Gray as Dal
  • Ella Purnell as Gwyn
  • Rylee Alazraqui as Rok-Tahk
  • Angus Imrie as Zero, a non-humanoid Medusan calling back to the alien species introduced during Star Trek: The Original Series in 1968
  • Jason Mantzoukas as Jankom Pog, a Tellarite
  • Dee Bradley Baker as Murf
  • John Noble as The Diviner
  • Jimmi Simpson as Drednok

Voice cast (left to right): Rok-Takh voiced by Rylee Alazraqui, Murf by Dee Bradley Baker (Clone Wars, Bad Batch), Zero by Angus Imrie.

Get to know these characters and how they come together as Bridge Crew of the USS Protostar in the first 2 episodes of the series, “Lost & Found”.  Watch this video introducing the non-human characters of Star Trek: Prodigy (beware SPOILERS):


Most Trekkies eagerly anticipate reveal of the titular starship of every new Star Trek series. The U.S.S. Protostar does not disappoint! Its sleek wedge-shaped twin-nacelle Starfleet design is complemented with inner futuristic aesthetics significantly advance of that seen on Captain Janeway's U.S.S. Voyager. The ship registry of NX-76884 indicates an experimental class of starship, possibly launched in the near future after Voyager's return from the Delta Quadrant. Zooming to the bridge located on the upper saucer section with transparent canopy, akin to today's jet fighter cockpit, suggests scale of the Protostar similar or slightly smaller than that of Voyager's 343 metre length. The Protostar should be outfitted with all standard Starfleet equipment, but what experimental technology it carries will be revealed in due course of the series.

The U.S.S. Protostar, starship registry NX-76884.

Trekkie Tech geeks would be familiar with much of the Federation technology showcased on the  Protostar, like phasers, universal translators, food replicators, etc. plus some surprises. For new fans to Star Trek, these sci-fi devices could be inspirations for future tech in generations to come, like how the communicators seen in The Original Series during the 1960s became real tech as mobile phones in the 1990s. Sneak a peek at some of Star Trek's technology in this video (beware SPOILERS):


The main theme for Star Trek: Prodigy is composed by Academy Award winner Michael Giacchino, who also scored the 2009 Star Trek film and echoes familiarity. Nami Melumad provides the series music.

Star Trek: Prodigy is from CBS’ Eye Animation Productions, CBS Studios’ new animation arm; Nickelodeon Animation Studio, led by President of Animation Ramsey Naito; Secret Hideout; and Roddenberry Entertainment. Alex Kurtzman, Heather Kadin, Aaron Baiers, Katie Krentz, Rod Roddenberry and Trevor Roth serve as executive producers alongside co-showrunners Kevin and Dan Hageman. Ben Hibon directs, co-executive produces and serves as the creative lead of the all-new animated series. Claudia Spinelli is Nickelodeon’s Head of Animation Development with Kelley Gardner serving as Executive in Charge of production on Star Trek: Prodigy for Nickelodeon. Alec Botnick is Head of Animation for CBS Studios and Stephanie Groves is the Executive Vice President of Streaming and Cable Series and overseeing the series for CBS Studios.


NON-SPOILER REVIEW

By Outpost Commander Richard Chua


As a long time Trekkie since the 1980s, I've consumed virtually all Star Trek television and films, which makes comparisons inevitable. Whilst the scifi franchise has previously been presented in animated form as Star Trek: The Animated Series (1973-74) and Star Trek: Lower Decks (2020 -), this latest incarnation of Star Trek: Prodigy is quite unlike what has come before. 3D animation has  become the norm for today's television and Star Trek has evolved to adopt this format with Prodigy catering to the younger audience that is not served by the other current series (Discovery, Picard, Lower Decks). It therefore takes on formulaic storytelling by presenting its cast of lead characters in their teenage years that would connect better with kids. And by setting the plot in a far flung corner of the galaxy, the new audience is not burdened by needing to know Star Trek from preceding series, starting on a “clean slate” and gradually introducing elements from established canon as the series progresses. 

Yet for the adult audience, say parents of kids viewing Star Trek: Prodigy as a family, it's actually these linkages to canon that engage us as Trekkies. Like finding out happened to crew members of the USS Voyager between the series conclusion and the commencement of Prodigy's timeline, since Janeway is part of the programme (pun intended! 😅). Plus why is the Protostar on Tars Lamora and what happened to its original, presumably Starfleet crew? Will we meet other established characters like Janeway in holographic form? It would certainly make sense for an EMH (Emergency Medical Hologram) to be part of sickbay. As a bonus, spotting those Easter Eggs are sweet treats for longtime fans, in a way rewarding us for our geeky devotion to Star Trek.

It's also worth noting there is no “living” human amongst the main characters of Prodigy. That certainly supports that the U.S.S. Protostar is heading Where No Man Has Gone Before... let's sit back and explore what's out there together with Dal & company.

Note: This review is based on the first 2 episodes of Star Trek: Prodigy “Lost & Found”. Review options belong solely to author. 


Tune-in to Nickelodeon on Monday 25 April 2022 at 7pm for the premiere of Star Trek: Prodigy, with new episodes every weekday. Nickelodeon is available in Malaysia on Astro Channel 616 and Unifi Channel 554. Astro VOD has scheduled Star Trek Prodigy to be available from 30 April to 5 June 2022.

Thanks to Nickelodeon Asia, Outpost Productions has U.S.S. Protostar Crew Packs to giveaway to our readers and fans. Contest starts NOW on our Facebook Page Outpost Productions. Simply Comment on our Post to Tell us why YOU should be part of the U.S.S. Protostar Crew.

Each U.S.S. Protostar Crew Pack is worth USD150 / over RM650 and comprises a LED lamp of the  new starship, real outer space ice cream for astronauts, crew notebook and t-shirts for adults and kids. So submit your entries now to prove your worthiness to be part of the Protostar and be trained by Hologram Janeway as Starfleet's finest. We are opening submissions until 9 May and will be enlisting only 3 qualified applicants (winners). 

Click here to participate in our Facebook Contest

Please feel welcome to shout-out your passion for Star Trek by sharing this blog and our social media posts to your family and friends.


Terms and Conditions for Star Trek: Prodigy Facebook contest:

1. Participation only for residents in Malaysia able to receive prizes by local courier.

2. To participate, post in the Comments of our Facebook post to “Tell us why YOU should be part of the U.S.S. Protostar Crew”. Most creative and engaging replies stand better chance to win.

3. Limit answer in 1 Comment only. Standard Facebook functions available in Comment may be used.

4. Contest closes on Monday 9 May 2022, 11.59pm. Submissions thereafter will not be eligible.

5. Winners will receive Reply to their post contest entry Comment to message Outpost Productions to claim their prize. If no response is received within 5 days then entry is forfeit and prize will be offered to next eligible entry.

6. This promotion is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by or associated with Facebook.

7. We reserve the right to revise these terms and conditions at any time without prior notice.


Live Long & Prosper

#LLAP


Star Trek is owned by ViacomCBS. Content here used with permission for fan engagement.



Tuesday, 8 March 2022

The Batman: The Caped Crusader’s return for this new decade

 

Another decade, another Batman movie to signal fans of the billionaire superhero back to cinemas for another take on DC Comics' iconic character. Robert Pattison (Twilight, Tenet) begins his journey as the new Batman / Bruce Wayne from 4th March at cinemas nationwide.

Within the Egyptian themed Sunway Pyramid floors of Sunway’s signature mall, comes one of many exhibits that feature contents and snippets of The Batman movie located on Ground Floor adjacent to the main "pyramid" entrance. Mall shoppers can visit The Batman Experience before docking themselves in TGV Cinemas upstairs to catch the 3-hour long movie.


It’s not a Batman exhibit without an archive of Batmans of the past, brought to you by the Batman Fans Malaysia (BFM) people, and their collections of figures and associated CDs of each Batman’s respective movies.

But if a history lesson of the past is not what you’re here for, then perhaps the exhibit’s attractions of the present day Batman will interest you. This includes a wayang kulit / shadow puppet edition of Pattinson's Batman by the artists at Fusion Wayang Kulit.



But most notably of all, is the activity that awaits visitors with time to spare, as the exhibit itself welcomes attendees to solve the mysterious puzzles within itself.

All this free entry activity, at no extra cost with no strings attached. The only rule is to solve the riddle, and be paid with a free beverage at the counter.

It’s like being the Batman detective without needing a prerequisite of being a billionaire...


Starts with a door of green text, which hides a question within. What does this mysterious riddle unveil? That is for you, the person reading this, to uncover the truth from.

Mystery solving aside, for folks interested to suit up like the Batman, a contest of cosplay awaits those who dare enter combat via costume.




The DC Superhero Cosplay Competition to be held at Sunway Pyramid this coming March 13th welcomes anyone’s inner DC superhero cosplay to fly free for the contest, with Online Registration open until 9 March for contestants.


Upto RM10,000 worth of prizes to be won including Sunway Pals points (cash value for purchases at Sunway Malls) & official Batman merchandise. Click here for the Registration Form.

If cosplay isn’t your cup of coffee, there is still the Sony Centre section of the exhibit, where Playstation Batman videogame allow you to virtually don the cowl of the Dark Knight investigating Arkham Asylum.


Alongside are escape-room like activities and retail section selling DC themed merchandise to take home as a souvenir. 

While The Batman screens in cinemas, why not visit Sunway Pyramid for the occasion as well? It’s open until 20 March, 2022.


The Batman movie of the 2022 features the Caped Crusader’s venture into Gotham City’s underworld in pursuit of a sadistic killer with their cryptic clues. As the trail to the perpetrator becomes clearer, he must form new partnerships to unmask the culprit, and bring justice to the city’s long running abuses of power.

The Batman stars Robert Pattinson at Batman / Bruce Wayne, Zoe Kravitz as Catwoman, Jeffrey Wright as GCPD's James Gordon, Colin Farrell as Penguin, and Andy Serkis as Alfred. 


Disclaimer: Batman and associated trademarks are copyright to DC Comics, referenced here for fan service announcements only without intent to infringe.