The whole idea that this movie got delayed just to fix the design of Sonic and some of the story mirrors how games get updated to fix the models and change features. Making this a film adaptation of a video game patch.
Sonic clearly has no formal education on either planet; how'd he learn how to speak and more importantly read English? ...easy: he's smarter and more resourceful than at first glance, which bears out through the movie. Itís also possible that whatever planet he came from just happens to speak English, like in Sonic X.
It's also equally possible that, at least learning how to read, Sonic simply spied on a school and watched the lessons and learned how to read and write based on that. Even a small town like Green Hills would most likely have a school.
How can Sonic be both Unskilled, but Strong and Weak, but Skilled? Because they're both extremes and he's going between them like a pendulum due to his lack of emotional control and focus. It's not till the final battle that he gets enough self-control to use his speed and electricity properly in a fight. Moreover, Sonic has always used his speed to hide, for stealth, amusement, etc. He's never used his powers in a directly offensive matter, so getting into a fight is a completely new experience. Moreover, he's never encountered somebody who could keep up with him, so Robotnik harnessing his power catches him completely off guard. Up until the final battle, Sonic's had it ingrained into him to always stay hidden and keep a low profile (since the first EMP kicks off the plot). He's been holding back the entire time, but now he can finally cut loose. When he tries to fight like a human, he's Weak, but Skilled (he's clearly learned from action movies, and does things like keep his back to Tom during the Bar Brawl that don't actually make sense for someone like him to do). When he fights like Sonic the Hedgehog, he's Unskilled, but Strong due to never having had any opportunity to learn how to do so until Robotnik's gunning for him.
When Tom and Robotnik first meet, it starts as Tom bluffing to keep Robotnik from getting inside. Normal stuff, and pretty cookie-cutter on top of that; worse, the fact that Tom pulls a bluff clues Robotnik in Tom likely hiding something, and prompts him to send in some drones to check. But think of it this way: Robotnik's a genius, and he knows from the moment Tom mentions his friend that there's a 50/50 chance that person doesn't exist. He nonetheless goes with "this guy's an idiot" and his cover's blown pretty quickly - but it doesn't matter, because it bought him time to get close enough that A) Tom can't see him direct his drones to search the house, and B) make otherwise meaningless small talk to give the drones time to search. So the scene goes from Tom distracting Robotnik, to Robotnik distracting Tom, without missing a beat.
Despite how Sonic can enter Bullet Time, he doesn't use it when Tom discovers him in the garage, leading to him being tranquilized and losing his rings.
It makes sense, considering the context; Sonic was already panicking about being discovered with Robotnik hot on his trail, and Tom showing up made him forget about his own powers after actually being spotted by a human.
Tom and Maddie are also the first humans that Sonic is genuinely fond of. Despite his paranoia about being discovered, he genuinely didn't consider Tom a threat to react to, (not noticing the gun immediately because of the aforementioned factors).
Another thing to consider is the fact Sonic has been hiding and evading possible pursuers for almost his entire life. He likely never had to think about what he'd do if Longclaw's instructions failed him and someone succeeded in catching him despite his efforts. Naturally he'd panic due to being in a position where he has absolutely no idea what to do or how to react to such a scenario.
It's also worth noting that in the case of the bar patron and Robotnik's missiles, Sonic was looking at them head-on and could clearly see their threat coming towards him in time. He was caught off-guard in the case of Tom's tranquilizer gun (along with, for example, Robotnik's bomb drone), hence why he didn't just dodge it in the same way. In contrast to how his electrokinetic powers are influenced by the strength of his emotions, Sonic can only activate his Bullet Time abilities deliberately, and even then he needs to be absolutely focused in order to use them properly at all.
Of course Sonic would read Flash comic books. Both are speedsters with laidback attitudes who also go out of their way to be heroes by helping people around them. Sonic's powers in the movie are also very similar to the Flash, including being surrounded by a protective electric aura and being able to enter Bullet Time.
Sonic says that he hates mushrooms, but doesn't explain why. Perhaps it's a reference to the tension back in the 8-bit and 16-bit era that he had with his former video game rival, Mario, who lives in the Mushroom Kingdom. Word of God is that it's a shot at Super Mario Bros.
Dr. Robotnikís plans in this movie are basically a combination of the two his game counterpart performs the most. Like the Classic games, heís using (at least part of) an animal as a battery for his devices (Sonicís Quills). Like the Modern games, heís trying to harness the abilities of an incredibly powerful, unknown creature. (Like Chaos, Solaris, Dark Gaia, the Time Eater, the Zeti, and in this case, Sonic himself).
Dr. Robotnik (condescendingly) telling the Major about Charlotte's Web does a nice job of establishing how he'd view Sonic:
For instance, yes Charlotte dies in the book and yes she lays a "creepy" egg sac. But he's also missing the point. Despite being a spider, what counts is that she died saving her friend and left a legacy. A more empathetic person would connect with Charlotte because she's friendly to Wilbur, but not Robotnik. His disconnection from Charlotte clues us in how he'll only see Sonic as an alien to study and dissect, despite that the young hedgehog is a friendly soul.
Another instance where he misunderstood Charlotte is that she died giving birth to children who will live on after her and carry on her jobs. Robotnik creates robots, which he considers his children, because he can't see anyone else as trustworthy and capable as his own mechanical creations. Fridge Tearjerker if you think about it: Robotnik must be really lonely and out of touch that he has to make up slaves to be his only companions. He's kind of like Sonic, except he's too proud to admit it.
Dr. Robotnik claims that if Tom were to die, nobody would even notice. While yet another demonstration of the former's condescending attitude towards others, it also counts as a way to play up to Tom's fears and his motivation for leaving his hometown: he wants to be remembered for doing something important, and he doesn't want to die an obscure figure. But in a twist of Fridge-Heartwarming, this builds up how, in the towns folks' eyes, he is anything but obscure or unimportant.
Dr. Robotnik appears to have undergone even more Sanity Slippage on the mushroom planet. Keep in mind though, that he's probably been subsisting on, and breathing in the spores of, alien mushrooms for over eighty days! No wonder he's gone crazier!
In the end of the movie, not only does the US government not seem all that concerned with catching the culprit behind the EMP blast (i.e. Sonic), but they act as though Tom, Maddie and Sonic are American heroes for stopping Robotnik when he wasn't a world-conquering supervillain (yet). Even better, it's the guy who recommended putting Robotnik on this mission who personally gives them the gift card as a bribe for their silence. While this might seem strange, throughout the film Robotnik's chase for Sonic involved very publicly firing lasers and missiles in San Francisco, the Great Wall of China and Giza, blowing the head off of the Sphinx itself in the process. It is very likely that such maverick behavior proved that involving Robotnik was an embarrassment on the government's part and that if they didn't try to make the American government as uninvolved as they possibly could, America would be stuck in a socio-political quagmire that even its massive military couldn't fight its way out of. The government's likely spoken to enough witnesses to realize how powerful Sonic is, and that he wants to live his life in peace, unlike Robotnik who basically went rogue when he had a fraction of that power. The government realized that by helping Sonic evade capture, Tom kept Robotnik from becoming a world-conquering supervillain. The government still wants to keep tabs on Sonic - he's a teenager that beat the guy they considered their own Godzilla Threshold, but they know not to force the issue for that reason.
Before the bar fight starts, the customers claim it's because they don't want "hipsters" in the bar. The next time we see the guy, he's actively lying to Robotnik and other governmental/professional people. Why? Well, he may not like them, sure. But for all he knows, a weird guy and maybe a kid just beat up an entire biker bar. Whomever they were, definitely not hipsters and probably worth defending. A more humorous possible explanation is that Robotnik has a long, elaborately styled mustache, something commonly associated with hipsters, so he thought he was a hipster too.
In a meaningful sense, the movie's original date was going to be in November. November's well known for the month of Thanksgiving, in which people are thankful for what they have (which is ironic because Sonic doesn't have anything to be thankful of at the start of the movie). The movie was then moved to February 14th, Valentine's Day, when people express feelings for their loved ones, fitting Sonic's desire to wanting to have friends and a place to call home.
How does this whole adventure begin? With Sonic losing his rings after getting hit! And what is Sonic's first impulse and topmost priority afterward? Getting his rings back.
Tom's pickup truck is a Toyota Tacoma. Toyota's logo is made from rings. Also worth mentioning that both Sonic and Toyota originate in, but have strong market appeal outside of, Japan.
The Stinger sets up Tails for the sequel, which means he'll be making his debut in Sonic 2 again.
Sonic can't help but use food-related names for people he knows: Donut Lord for Tom, Pretzel Lady for his wife Maddie... and Eggman for Dr. Robotnik.
Rewatching the movie, right before Sonic heads to Paris, he passes by a bus with an advertisement to visit Paris. While talking to Tom about the building, Tom repeatedly calls it a Pyramid. If one haven't caught where the Great Wall shows up beforehand (Maybe in the hotel room on the TV?) but if the Rings go where you think of, then Sonic is pulling from the last few days to try to shake Robotnik.
During the chase between Sonic and Robotnik, Sonic creates a tornado by generating wind that kicks up the Egyptian desert sand. This is a similar move to what Barry Allen AKA The Flash did in the first episode of The Flash (2014). Whose comic books was Sonic reading in his cave? The Flash.
Jokes aside, the government's bribe of $50 Olive Garden gift card might seem rather off. But notice the general, he's being rather excited about Olive Garden and even suggests they all talk it over brunch. Its likely that the government wasn't going to offer anything, and the General gave the gift card as a personal thanks. Olive branches are also a sign of peace. So what better place to offer peace than at a (figurative) olive garden? It can also be a silent way for the government to tell the Wachowski's and Sonic that they are family. Because remember, at Olive Garden, you're family. Also a sort of Brick Joke as Tom mentioned the only app on his phone is Olive Garden (he likes it that much) and maybe the government tracked his interest by that. That and the General might be excited to have someone who also likes the place.
You know how in Sonic games they keep adding friends and foes, much to the annoyance to the critics, and more recently even fans? The movie answers that. It's because Sonic knows what it's like to be lonely, and doesn't want to go back.
Officer Wachowski isn't the first man of the law that Sonic teams up with, which in a meta-sense, explains why Sonic gets along with him pretty quickly. And much like The Commander, Wachowski starts off a bit more reluctant in the team-up, being wary of the events that unfolded.
Sonic's character arc in the movie is all about wanting friends, so what better track to introduce the movie than Friends, the opening theme to Sonic Mania?
Sonic, who's obviously very small is hit with a tranquilizer that according to Maddie, is supposed to be able to knock out bears, but wakes up minutes later. His metabolism combined with his powers probably burnt right through the worst of the sedative, (save for the weak legs initially).
After being banished to the mushroom planet, Robotnik gains weight and grows out his mustache. Looks like this is the place where evilgrows!
In an interview Jeff Fowler reveals this Sonic is about 13 or 14 years old, younger than his usual counterparts.
This can allude to the fact that the classic Games were revealed to be in the past in Sonic Generations, before being retconned as alternate dimensions in Sonic Forces.
Alternatively, it emphasizes the film's nature as an Origin Story: it's apparent that this Sonic isn't quite the confident and skilled fifteen-year-old Sonic we all know and love...yet, so his slightly younger age represents how this Sonic still has some growing to do to reach that point.
Starting with Sonic 3 & Knuckles, Stage 1 of most zones in the 2D Sonic games has ended in a Boss Battle with one of Dr. Robotnik's boss minions, and then Stage 2 usually ends with one against the doctor himself piloting some sort of craft. The truck drone seen in the trailer gets deployed about halfway through the movie, and the movie climaxes with Sonic battling Dr. Robotnik piloting a hovercraft.
"Where Evil Grows" is actually a pretty good song choice for Robotnik.
The song is about someone developing an obsession with someone, and then becoming more and more evil the more they pursue the object of that obsession. Perfect song to describe Robotnik's relationship with Sonic in this movie.
There's also the lyrics "If I could build a wall around you, I could control the thing that you do", which perfectly reflects Robotnik's goals and why he's become so obsessed with the hedgehog in the first place. "But I couldn't kill the will within you" also implies that Robotnik quietly considers Sonic a Worthy Opponent to some degree, though in the context of this film, it's less so respecting Sonic as an actual person and more so viewing him as prey worthy of his caliber.
The seeming Big-Lipped Alligator Moment where Robotnik gets chased by a holographic T-Rex and then pretends to be caught by it also supports his obsession towards Sonic— he's acting out helpless prey running away from a towering, dangerous predator. Which, of course, is how he views his relationship with Sonic, with him as the T-Rex in their situation.
The first act of the movie is about how Sonic wants to have friends, but feels that he can't because he doesn't want to feel the pain of losing someone again due to his powers. He's going through the Hedgehog'sDilemma.
Sonic makes a fair amount of gratuitous pop-culture references, but it makes sense for this version of his backstory: Up until now, he's learned what he knows about earth through TV, comic books, and watching people go about their lives in the small town of Green Hills, so a lot of what he knows about human life would be pop cultural.
Robotnik and Tom also symbolize Sonicís differing views of humanity: Robotnik is a Mad Scientist that sees Sonic as a powerful specimen and just wants to lock him up for study, while Tom sees him as a sad child wanting a family and some friends.
An element of Sonic's character arc throughout the film is him learning how to moderate and control his powers, as he becomes far too uncontrollable when blindly embracing his super speed, but can hardly leave a mark when trying to fight like a normal person. Funnily enough, this relates to the original design philosophy of Sonic's gameplay from all the way back in 1991, and how it was built entirely around the player mastering Sonic's speed:
Sonic as an Unskilled, but Strong character: first-time players of the original 2D games would definitely not be used to Sonic's more dynamic, pinball-like physics compared to other contemporary platformers. As such, while Sonic's speed would still be a thrill for players as it is for Sonic himself in the movie, using it without a lot of experience would frequently result in the player running into an enemy, level obstacle or bottomless pit without being able to react to it in time. It's why nowadays quite a few critics perceive 2D Sonic games as "too fast" and therefore too unfairly challenging for most people to pick up and play. Likewise, in the film, Sonic's inability to manage his speed is what leads to the film's inciting incident, and he's unable to lean on its brute force alone when Robotnik figures out how to match it.
Sonic as a Weak, but Skilled character: on the other hand, some newbie players could choose to play more cautiously through the game in hopes of avoiding the above, only using Sonic's speed sparingly, relying on the generous ring system to get by, and slowly platforming around like they would in, say, a 2D Super Mario Bros. game. But as already proven by how most prefer the lively and sprawling Green Hill to the blockier and more maze-like Marble Zone, playing a Sonic game as if you would most other platformers would result in a far more tedious experience. Likewise, while the film's Sonic is upset about how the nature of his powers causes issues, he clearly doesn't have any desire or patience to ever take things slow.
Sonic as a Strong and Skilled character: however, with enough practice and replaying, players can learn to appreciate and control Sonic's speed and use it to its full advantage, getting through levels faster while being able to react to the hazards and terrain more quickly, and even turning some of the tangled mazes that once stumped them into fast, frantic and fun playgrounds— which, to repeat, is exactly the design philosophy of skill mastery and replay value that Sonic Team had in mind when making the original games. And come the climax of the film proper, Sonic finally learns how to control and focus his speed, using it in tandem with the terrain (jumping off walls and objects across the street) to utterly curb-stomp Robotnik.
This theme may branch across the entire Sonic series, but it is most visible in this installment that Robotnik is just as obsessed with speed as Sonic himself. Robotnik's desire to use Sonic's power in his experiments shows an obsession with technological acceleration, seeing Sonic as a springboard towards the future. He's tripping over himself, desperate to obtain the thing that will let him advance at the speed of sound.
After accidentally shorting the power out to his lab, Robotnik has to flip the breaker switch. Alongside it is a self-destruct mechanism, which he likely put in there in case the Government got wind of his evil plans and he tries to run for it.
A Reddit user calculated how many people (especially babies) died because of Sonic's power turning off the entire Pacific Northwest.
491 babies were possibly killed accidentally by Sonic. More fire to support Robotnik against the furry menace. Of course, this is ignoring hospitals have emergency generators and neo-natal equipment with batteries, but there's still the possibility that some of those malfunctioned due to Sonic's power.
Considering the EMP was capable of knocking out the entire Pacific Northwest, it's highly likely many did. More importantly, when the power goes out, we see it's at night. Hospitals going dark may not be the only cause of death during this sudden blackout.
Continuing on this; how many people died during Sonic and Robotnik's final battle? As pointed out by this Cracked article, there's tons of damage done to San Francisco alone, with buildings and even a whole bus getting blown up. The bus appears to be standing still, but that is just because Sonic and Robotnik are both moving in Bullet Time. It was in the middle of an intersection and very likely filled with people.
This is countered by how Tom's phone got a signal and his truck started just fine... and later by Robotnik's base not getting bricked but breaker-tripped (conceivably heavily shielded against outside attack).
The "Pacific Northwest" generally does not include Montana (which is plainly not on the Pacific ocean). Think about that. This leaves two options. First, the energy phenomenon either expanded outward in a single direction, towards Idaho, Washington, Oregon, and British Columbia (which are usually considered the PNW) - and that makes it a directional EMP weapon. Or, second, it expanded in a circle - meaning "the Pacific Northwest" is less the diameter affected, and more a measure of the radius of effect. But then this raises further questions. For example, the Rocky Mountain range is between Montana and the Pacific Northwest to the W and SW - but the topography just gets flatter E and N of Montana. This would seem to suggest that the energy phenomenon was attracted to mountains in the first option, or not hindered by them in the second option.
At a point in the movie, we can see on a map Sonic had showed several worlds that were already crossed out prior to him arriving to Earth. Just what the heck could have found and hunted him to the point of forcing him to leave on those other worlds?
The Echidna tribe observes the Blue Blur as he speeds around the island and lay siege to his home.
This brings up the possible idea that the Echidna tribe is just as power hungry as they were in Sonic Adventure... Is this just one of the things they do for their hunt for power to the moment they go after the power of the Chaos Emeralds?
Robotnik proves how insane he is the first time something doesn't go his way - his immediate reaction to Tom denying knowledge about Sonic is to threaten his life, and as soon as he sees Sonic for himself has the drone start shooting up the house. Shortly after, he starts regaling his disdain for humans to Agent Stone, more or less confirming that outside of himself and those that are useful to him, he has no regard for human life. That all comes to a head when he starts attacking Sonic in San Francisco with no regard to civilian or structural casualties in the process. How many people died in his rampage? He's a visible threat the whole way, but when you start to put everything together in your head, this may be the most effective and ruthless version of Eggman to be depicted. Think about this for a second. Robotnik almost killed Tom over having one of Sonic's quills in his house. Tom picked that quill up by the roadside. He had it before Sonic was even at his house. It wasn't even proof that Sonic was present at all. Anyone could've recovered one of Sonic's quills, and Robotnik could've murdered them for truthfully denying that they'd ever seen Sonic. Considering how quick Robotnik is to violence when he doesn't get his way, you have to wonder, just how many people has he killed when they don't bow to his demands.
One quill shed by Sonic is able to maintain his charge throughout the film and the eighty plus days Robotnik has been stranded, and cause the destruction seen in the movie. Sonic's probably been regularly shedding his quills, all over the place, for the past decade he's been on earth. So who else found them lying around, and how long before the government catches on? Its not like Robotnik is the only genius they'd have on payroll. With that in mind, suppose someone else pursuing Sonic, like the Echidna Tribe, chances upon the Mushroom Planet and finds Robotnik with the quill? they might start asking questions and Sonic may find himself dealing with them again, only this time there's nowhere left for him to hide! This is especially likely when you consider how Tails was able to track Sonic to not only what planet he's on, but the town he's living in. This is slightly mitigating: if this Tails is a mechanical genius like his usual counterparts, Tails himself might have come up with the way to find him. Still, that leaves other mechanists like Robotnik or Lyric to make that switch, and we've already seen what Robotnik can do...
The movie makes it clear that Dr. Robotnik is the only genius of his particular caliber and skillset on the US Government's payroll, or surely they would have sent someone else. There is no one else for them to send. Which brings up another question: is Robotnik the government's only option here because he's so good at what he does? Or is he their only option because everybody else they could have picked got eliminated by Robotnik?
At The Stinger with Robotnik on the Mushroom Planet, he notes that a "lesser man" might die shortly upon living on this planet.
If there's any truth to that, this might imply (at least some of) the mushrooms on the aforementioned planet aren't exactly safe to eat or make skin contact (something Robotnik may be able to power through or use technology to remedy). With this in mind, this would suggest if Sonic's initial plan to retreat there actually came through. Sonic might've later died alone from fungi poisoning in a matter of days at least or months at most depending on how his powers would factor into the situation.
Assuming the above is true, this would imply the the planet map Sonic has that lists "safe" planets only lists planets that aren't inhabited by people that know of Sonic and are seeking to catch him. Assuming Earth wasn't the planet he was first sent to via ring by Longclaw, this would mean he's had to endure surviving multiple different harsh environments on his own at a very young age.
Note how fat and more... Egg-shaped Robotnik looks by the end of the movie. While it can be assumed that he simply overate, it's possible that eating those mushrooms causes side-effects such as overweightness, baldness and crazy, over-grown facial hair.
Sonic is holding back a lot of his power.
Clearly, he must be some manner of Martial Pacifist. Any of his powers, when taken to their logical conclusion, have tremendous, near-unstoppable killing power. In the scene where he runs from Western Montana to the Pacific Ocean and back, he travels approximately 1000 miles in 4 seconds. This means he's capable of running at 1172 times the speed of sound. To put that in perspective, if Sonic were to let go of a 200-gram glass beer bottle while traveling at that speed, it should carry a kinetic energy equal to the explosion of four 2000-pound JDAM bombs, or about 16 gigajoules, more than enough to practically erase a city block. Anything that Sonic is holding in his hands is a potential kinetic weapon. So, let's look at the bar fight in that context. If Sonic had intended to kill everyone in that bar, it would have been trivially easy for him to smash that glass bottle over the first tough guy's head, and then slash everyone else's carotid arteries with the broken bottle, and absolutely no one would have been able to stop him. Him failing to break that bottle over that guy's head was him feigning and baiting the guy into a fight. Sonic is strong enough to jump off a wall and tackle two adult humans each three times his size off of a ledge. He's strong enough to break a glass bottle over someone's head hard enough to put them in the ER. It wasn't that he wasn't capable of doing it. He could. He just didn't want to. Robotnik and the government are correct to fear Sonic's power. The thing is, he's an All-Loving Hero who would never use his powers that way. And that's something that everyone on Earth should be thankful for. Yeesh.
Given these points, and that the stinger and echidna tribe imply that the other characters exist, imagine the potential carnage that could result if another character that won't hold back, or isn't as morally upright as Sonic appear? Like say, Metal Sonic or Shadow?!
Given that the ARK doesn't appear to exist in this film's universe, Shadow may not exist during the series' canon at all. However, with Eggman haven stolen one of Sonic's quills, he'll probably create Shadow (and perhaps Metal Sonic) by the next movie(s).
Not that it makes things less terrifying, but considering Robotnik's preference of machinery over living beings (clearly not just human beings, but living beings in general), he's more likely to create Metal Sonic.
As much as Robotnik is explicitly an orphan in this continuity, it's not clarified as to how, when or why he was orphaned. It's still possible that Gerald or Maria did exist in this continuity but died before they could be actively relevant in Robotnik's life.
Sonic mentions that all advanced civilizations use rings for travel. Tails' cameo confirms that indeed, there are more rings to be found on other worlds than what Sonic had in his tiny pouch. Other worlds like the mushroom planet Sonic banished Dr. Robotnik to. Robotnik, who saw these rings used to open several portals, and who would, in time, figure out how to open one himself.
Thanks to Sonic, Robotnik not only knows that creatures on other worlds are charged with inherent power, but also knows how to tap into it and use them as Living Batteries for his machines. That container holding Sonic's quill sure looks big enough to stuff a small rodent or a bird in, doesn't it? Imagine if he built more of them, and possibly enough robots powered by them to invade a planet...
Robotnik using his government blank cheque to declare Tom a suspected terrorist really brings the whole rest of the movie into question. How exactly did he manage to drive all the way to San Francisco, walk into a heavily populated area, and even use his police badge to gain access to a building? Not to mention what he was supposed to do with himself if Sonic left when he was supposed to.
The lack of organized roadblocks could be down to Robotnik - Insufferable Genius he is - may have declined to relay that information on to others, wanting Tom for himself. Robotnik's Berserk Button is being punched in the face. Given how absolutely petty the man is, it's a plausible theory that he personally wants to destroy Tom for punching him in the face. Well, that and also running off with his alien guinea pig. Hence, he likely skewed a lot of info so that he could keep Tom for himself or interfered in the government's own attempts at roadblocking, acts which may, to a lesser extent, have also contributed to the government's decision to Unperson him by the end.
It's possible that by the time Tom arrived in San Francisco, the government has figured out his "terrorist" status is bogus. Robotnik's citation of the death penalty for treason would have been a strong case to cooperate if Sonic had actually been an enemy of the state. Maybe they figured things out when Robotnik was threatening Tom on the phone, or maybe afterward while investigating his home for clues (which is likely to have occurred off-screen what with the terrorism charges) and figuring out that the damage to the home was exclusively from Robotnik's drone. Either way, it's possible they realized that Tom was innocent and acting in self-defense; in that case, they might have had time to rescind the order to look for him, but hadn't yet issued a public notice to news outlets. Even then, it's possible the news wouldn't report that he was no longer wanted, instead just no longer reporting when other stories get more views.
It's established that hiring Robotnik for the job was a Godzilla Threshold for the government. He's a genius, but his abrasive and arrogant personality would piss anybody off. Its possible that Robotnik himself leaked the info to the news, but the government, (or perhaps the military on scene in Green Hills did a follow up examination after Sonic and Tom evacuated, and clarified the issue to spite Robotnik as well). Robotnik's already unpersoned as a classified matter (all but putting him above the law) at the start, which made the government's sweep up very easy.
The region was also hit by a massive blackout very recently. This does not make disseminating information any easier, nor does it necessarily make a vaguely-described "terrorist" a higher priority than public health. Plus, Tom's a sheriff; he may have been using his training to avoid patrols.
Furthermore, Tom's face doesn't really have any identifying features like noticeable scars. Even if someone recognized his face, they might have thought he was an Identical Stranger to Tom.