I feel like it’s so easy to write off a video game movie, especially that centers around an anthropomorphic blue hedgehog, because how are you gonna get a good story there? Well, the first Sonic the Hedgehog was surprisingly fun and sweet, so I was super excited to see the sequel. I mean, Idris Elba is playing Knuckles the Echidna! How can my inner child not be excited for that madness? Well, the good news is I got to see and I’m so excited to talk Sonic the Hedgehog 2.
This movie keeps almost surprisingly good to the continuity of the first one. We start with Dr. Robotnik (Jim Carrey) is on a random mushroom planet that Sonic sent him to, and he is (further) losing his mind as he tries to survive and get home. His plan to get home hits success when Knuckles shows up following his signal, and a nefarious alliance is formed. Back on Earth Sonic (Ben Schwartz) is home alone as his adoptive human parents Tom (James Marsden) and Maddie (Tikka Sumpter) are off for a wedding in Hawaii. And this is exactly when Robotnik comes calling with Knuckles, both having it out for everyone’s favorite blue blur. Thankfully Tails (Colleen O’Shaughnessey, the current game voice actor for the character) has shown up to save Sonic, and the two become friends as they go on a globetrotting journey to stop their villainous opposites from finding the Chaos Emerald.
If that sounds kinda basic and quirky, well you’re right, and it kinda is perfect too. It opens up this movie to be a lot more Sonic focused, and a lot wilder and over the top than the first one, which is one of the few weaknesses I found with the original. Marsden and Sumpter are wonderful actors and had fun with the first one, but those human moments felt so out of place, and honestly when they force them back into the plot in this one it can too. But this movie balances it a lot better, with the most common human character being Robotnik who is almost more of a cartoon than the CGI characters. Bouncing from running from drones, to a dance battle in the middle of Siberia, to a way over engineered and over booby trapped temple, it is hardly ever dull. It is pure just adventuring fun, full of quips and goofiness that its hard not to just love. And so much of that is these characters too.
If you saw the first one, let me just get it out of the way that the returning cast is great. Schwartz really captures the classic Sonic’s confidence and sarcasm, while making it his own. And Carrey is just having the time of his life with this larger than life villain, and it is so incredibly goofy, and creative that you love it. The bits we get of Sumpter and Marsden are fun due to their fantastic charisma, more than the scenes many times, but they do add in some heart. But the new main characters add so much. O’Shaughnessey has essentially made a career of playing Tails, and that really shows here as that character is immediately endearing as he helps his hero Sonic, and learns what it means to have a friend and be a hero. I just warms your heart. But no one. And I mean NO ONE does more for this movie than Idris Elba as Knuckles. I’m not even sure it had to be Idris Elba for this as the writing is just so good. But his character is tough, dumb, and says the goofiest things completely straight and it just will have you in tears. And I mean it, I can’t wait for the YouTube super cut of all his scenes for when I’m having a bad day, because it will lift you up. It really just makes for a fantastic ensemble cast that you really want to see all get screen time, which is rare in a kid’s movie.
Credit really goes to the returning creative team for just doubling down on the fun here. Jeff Fowler’s direction seems to just be focused on letting the lines sing, and the action look dynamic, and that’s all this needs. There is a 2nd Sonic vs Knuckles fight that is kind of all you could ask for in a fight of these two characters. If anything, my biggest complaint with this movie is just that there is some scenes where they try to show the action in a larger/further away manner that just feels like the effects team didn’t get enough time for. Its not bad, but when your furry characters look so good up close, and then you see that, you can really tell the time and budget hit its limits. But then you’re pulled back in by the writing team. They come up with just so many great gags, especially with Knuckles, that you’ll forget the faults in CGI. Only really blunder there for me is that when they keep Tom and Maddie away from the action, the scene they’re brought back into it devolves into a really disconnected feeling segment that seems just to pad time. It almost makes the characters feel like even more of a distraction from the film’s high points because they feel almost forcing their kookiness that the animated characters and Jim Carrey fall so naturally into. But its a short diversion, and I can’t really fault it for that.
I had some complaints here, but it is also just the most pure fun time I’ve had in the theater of late. It is definitely still a kids movie. It definitely still hits the occasional issue for adults due to that. But there is just so much clever writing and great action concepts and visuals that I almost challenge you not to enjoy it. And, if you have kids then its a win-win to distract them for 2 hours!