Not many video game movies have been great, so when Sonic immediately sparked backlash in 2019 with a radical reimagining of the speedy hedgehog, it didn’t bode well. Thankfully, director Jeff Fowler went back to the drawing board (literally) – and the film ended up a surprise hit at the box office.
Fast-forward two-and-a-half years and the electric blue video game character is back with a sequel. As far as the plot goes, it’s hardly rocket science. Ben Schwartz portrays Sonic as your stereotypical teen upstart who desperately wants to play at being the hero, while father figure Tom Wachowski (James Marsden) tries to keep him safe. Meanwhile, moustache-twirling villain Dr Robotnik (Jim Carrey) is recovering from his climactic fight with Sonic at the end of the last movie. He gets rescued from exile on the Mushroom Planet by a new ally, Knuckles the Echinda (Idris Elba), and they seek an emerald which will give them untold power. It’s left to Sonic and his new/old pal Tails (the fan-favourite flying fox, played by Collen O’Shanussy) to thwart them and save Earth.
Schwartz was born to voice Sonic. Known best as scene-stealing Jean-Ralphio from sitcom Parks and Recreation, he’s sufficiently funny and energetic to keep the film’s pace up but also clever enough not to overdo it. The motor-mouthed rodent could be an extremely annoying protagonist in different hands. Here, he’s loveable. Elsewhere, the addition of franchise stalwarts Tails and Knuckles is fun – and game nuts will surely love seeing them brought to life on screen alongside Carrey’s Robotnik, who brings an extra, manic dimension.
Surprisingly, the best laughs come from Sonic 2’s supporting cast. Minor characters like the bumbling Deputy Sheriff Wade Whipple (Adam Pally) and Robotnik’s sidekick Agent Stone (Lee Majdoub) both contribute something different to the dynamic and help to break up lengthy scenes which focus on the main players. Unfortunately other moments which sidestep the central story aren’t as interesting. The wedding scene between Rachel (Nastasha Rothwell) and Randall (Shemar Moore), for instance, could have easily been cut. At just over two hours, the film is definitely too long – and it sometimes feels like we’re running on the spot while the writers struggle to find things for their heroes to do.
That said, Sonic 2 is certainly a fan-pleaser and comes pre-loaded with a post-credits scene that hints at more action (and more game throwbacks) to come. Who remembers that dodgy first design now?
- Director: Jeff Fowler
- Starring: Ben Schwartz, James Marsden, Jim Carrey
- Release date: April 1