Featured StoryReviews

Sonic The Hedgehog 2 movie review

It seems wild to rack in my brain that the last movie I saw before the COVID-19 pandemic hit was Sonic The Hedgehog. The adaptation went through an infamous production process. One that included a redesign of Sonic after massive backlash from fans. All the problems aside, the movie came out to positive reviews from fans and critics alike for the most part. Which has now led us to Sonic The Hedgehog 2!

I was not on that hype train. While it wasn’t nearly as bad as other video game movie adaptations, I felt the movie was ashamed to be a Sonic movie. Opting to be a typical road trip comedy for kids we had seen before in films like Are We There Yet and Hop (which also starred James Marsden, ironically). That was, until the last thirty minutes. Where it remembered it was a movie about the blue blur. In the final act, it became a proper adaptation with Sonic’s dizzying speed used to fight a bombastic Robotnik brought to life brilliantly by Jim Carrey. 

The positive last act gave me hope walking out that the sequel would take more swings to bring in lore from the games. In other words, it would feel more like a proper Sonic adaptation. Thankfully, my hunch was correct. Sonic The Hedgehog is an adaptation that understands the series it’s being adapted from and is proud to be so. Everyone involved this time around feels like they had the gloves taken off to go as wild with the series as they could. And every decision made has positive effects on the movie.

Sonic The Hedgehog 2 Pic 1

What’s Sonic up to this time around?

Like the first film, the story is pretty simple. Sonic (Ben Schwartz) has become comfortable living in our world with his pseudo-adoptive parents, The Wachowskis (James Marsden and Tika Sumpter). But when they have to leave for a weekend to attend Maddie’s sister Rachel’s (Natasha Rothwell) wedding, Sonic is left alone to his own devices. Sure is awful timing for Robotnik (Jim Carrey) to return from the planet he was outcast to after the first film. 

If that wasn’t bad enough, he’s brought a new foe to handle Sonic in Knuckles (Idris Elba doing his best not to sound sexy). Knuckles is just as strength-heavy as Sonic is speed-focused. But that doesn’t mean Sonic isn’t alone in the two-on-one fight. A new ally has come in Tails (Colleen O’Shaughnessey)! A two-tailed Fox who has the intelligence that Sonic lacks at points. With the table set, the two versus two clash begins for the future of our world. 

Now to discuss without spoiling somehow!

I would delve more, but I want to keep this spoiler-free. Part of the beauty of Sonic The Hedgehog 2 is how unabashedly it brings in elements from the game. And is confidence to do so! Moves, items, powers, items, song motifs! All of them are utilized by director Jeff Fowler to bring forward a movie that feels much closer to an actual Sonic adaptation than the first film ever did. It almost feels like a Marvel movie in the way it knows some elements might be ridiculous but doesn’t care. That doesn’t mean non-fans are left in the dark. The story spends time explaining plot points to let the audience get the general gist of what’s going on. 

I want to circle back to Fowler before I discuss the performances. He’s become much more confident with the Sonic universe this time around. The first film felt like he had his hands tied behind his back by a studio that wasn’t sure if the property would work. That’s not the case this time around. The cinematography, use of visual effects, and art design make you feel like he got the cuffs broken and can now let loose. And the movie is all the better for it. Because the energy takes a massive step up in a beneficial way!

Knuckles in action

Everyone steps up this time around

Now for the performances in Sonic The Hedgehog 2, returning and new. Ben Schwartz is much more comfortable as Sonic this time around. More of his jokes land than they did in the first movie. He’s also able to balance the fine line of Sonic being humorous, while understanding when he needs to be serious. It leads to molding the heart and themes of the film in a way that’s wonderful to watch play out. And it all lands because Schwartz is a much more talented voice actor than he is given credit for.

Colleen O’Shaughnessey is a welcome addition to see come to the live-action universe as Tails. As the only voice actor to come over from the video game’s cast, she fits right into Tails’ shoes quickly performance-wise. As the film goes on, the friendship between Tails and Sonic becomes one of the more endearing elements that works so well in the movie. She knows how Tails’ partnership with the blue blur works. And her performance reflects her comfortability with the series. (Also, major kudos to the production team to bring her in instead of stunt casting an enormous actress). 

How are the humans and the big red guy?

Then there’s Jim Carrey back as Robotnik. Who might be the biggest cartoon in the movie even though he is live-action!? And I don’t mean that as a complaint! Carrey delivers one of his patented, over-the-top performances you remember from his films in the ’90s; Carrey is in full force anytime he’s on screen. It’s a joy to watch him be so energetic again on screen after years of not seeing that. If you got a kick out of him in the first movie, you’ll love him this time around. 

Wrapping up returning cast members is the human characters. James Marsden, Tika Sumpter and Natasha Rothwell are the three main cast members returning from the previous film. They all do a fine job breaking up the bits with our heroes and adding some thematic elements to the story. It’s easy to tell Marsden and Sumpter are much more comfortable hitting their cues CG-wise with Sonic this time. Moreover, Marsden has a much better rapport with Sonic, as well. Which gives them a better relationship than in the first film.

Now for the big red guy in the room. Let’s discuss Mr. Sexy Voice Idris Elba as Knuckles. If you were worried about his inclusion, fret not. He’s the highlight of the film. Elba takes a deliberate approach to the character that works so damn well. Without giving anything away, think Drax from the Guardians Of The Galaxy films for his performance. It works to be threatening, intentionally and unintentionally funny, and surprisingly wholesome by the time the credits roll. Elba manages to hit all those emotional beats in his performance. And now, I’m very excited to see him continue the role going forward.

Sonic The Hedgehog 2 Pic 3

This is all great! But…

For all the praise I’m heaping, Sonic The Hedgehog 2 does have some noticeable faults. It’s not as many as in the first film, but they are glaring when they come up. Most of them boil down to the typical conventions in mainstream children’s movies. There are a lot of outdated cultural references. Most go by and don’t register, but some are so cringey, they’re hard to ignore. If you want a hint, I hope you don’t like dance moves from five years ago showing up in your movies. Oh, and yes. There are fart jokes, but I do give it credit for making me laugh for the first time at one in a movie in years.

The licensed songs are hit and miss. Some work in the context of the film, but some are so baffling to hear pop up that it might short-circuit your brain. There’s a sequence with a very outdated song that made me say, “wait, what” out loud in how ridiculous it was! I didn’t even realize I did it! While I laughed, I could definitely see it get on the nerves of some older viewers. 

But all this pales in comparison to the one main criticism I can give to Sonic The Hedgehog 2. There is no reason for this movie to be over two hours. While I had a lot of fun, I could also tell where sequences could be cut. Heck, whole subplots could be cut, and it wouldn’t affect the main story. Most of them involve human characters. The subplots involving them are mostly used to create plot MacGuffins to make things make sense. I do get that this helps non-fans of the games understand some things. But there was a better and quicker way to address them. 

Sonic The Hedgehog 2 Pic 4

Final thoughts on Sonic The Hedgehog 2

In the end, the positives outweigh the negatives by a landslide when it comes to Sonic The Hedgehog 2. I wish it was a bit shorter and didn’t feel like it had to hit some generic kids’ movie beats. But that can be forgiven with the fact it’s so unabashedly proud to be a Sonic movie. The director is proud, the writers are proud, and the cast lets loose and has a blast with how ridiculous and fun everything is. I walked out of the first movie nervous about the future of the Sonic movies. That’s not the case this time around. Now, I’m all in on whatever they decide to do. Give me that third movie. Let me enjoy that Knuckles TV show in its glory. Let this creative team keep going nuts with the property. They’ve earned the right. 

You can buy tickets for Sonic The Hedgehog 2 here!

(Oh and there is a post-credit scene. You’ll want to stick around.)

Alex Lehew

28-year-old gamer, writer, content creator, weeb, and Sega fan! I'm old enough to remember when you played Sonic The Hedgehog 2 on a CRT, or how weird Revelations: Persona is. Constantly begging Atlus to make Snowboard Kids 3.
Back to top button