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: 

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.

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