Alternate Character Interpretation: Did Sonic really think he couldn't have eventually found San Francisco on his own, before Tom could drive him there all the way from Montana? Or was that just his excuse to stay with Tom and hold off on leaving Earth and humanity behind for as long as possible?
After fans were unanimously creeped out by the teaser poster offering a glimpse of a more realistic design for Sonic, and an utterly disastrous initial trailer proving those fears correct, expectations for the film were pretty low, not helped by Paramount's banishing it to the Dump Months, even after promising to fix Sonic's character design. Thankfully, said redesign got the movie decent critical reception and even warmer audience reception upon release. The movie actually performed ahead of earlier tracking and gave Paramount a solid hit (including having a better four-day release Stateside than Pokémon Detective Pikachu, due in part to opening on Valentine's Day), and possibly paving the way for a full-blown movie franchise. The movie did eventually make over $300 million from premieres without the aid of Japan or China, who had their premieres delayed because of the COVID-19 Pandemic. Looking at the finished product compared to the initial response is almost like discussing two entirely different works. And to top it off, a sequel has been announced for 2022, with near unanimous approval and joy.
The initial reaction to Jim Carrey's casting was generally one of complete bafflement, considering how he neither sounds nor looks anything like the iconically rotund villain of the games. It didn't help that Carrey's Hollywood movie career had been floating in shallow waters for the past six years, and his hiring was seen by some as Stunt Casting by a studio desperate for a big celebrity name to play the villain. Post-release, it's widely agreed that Carrey absolutely nailed the character with his outrageously over-the-top, yet intimidating when necessary performance, and at times even sounds uncannily close to the gravelly-voiced character from the games.
Author's Saving Throw: A rare example where it happened before the film was released. The initial design of Sonic in the teaser trailers and posters received a universally negative reaction, so Paramount, Sega, and the filmmakers put the brakes on as hard as they could and delayed the film's release by three months to redesign and reanimate Sonic. Fortunately, they called in Tyson Hesse to provide the new design and it was rapturously received when finally unveiled to the public.
Big-Lipped Alligator Moment: If the scene of Dr. Robotnik enthusiastically dancing to "Where Evil Grows" while his computer analyzes Sonic's quill wasn't this in and of itself, the part where he turns on a holographic T-REX and pretends to dance headless after it bites where his head is definitely counts. However, due to Eggman's eccentric and goofy behaviour in various games and cartoons and fan works, some argue it fits just fine.
Bile Fascination: The initial response to the first trailer was that several viewers were interested in seeing the movie just to get a look at Sonic's terrible Uncanny Valley design. After the redesign, this was ultimately averted by the film itself, which was generally seen as being surprisingly decent. That said, quite a few people are hoping that the original cut of the film will be released in some form, expecting Sonic's original design to push the film into So Bad, It's Good territory (and also to see how bad Tails' original design wasnote Word of God says that the Stinger Scene was only added after the redesign was done as a "Thank You". ).
Cliché Storm: One of the primary criticisms of the film is that it has a lot of tropes associated with '90s road trip comedies — in particular, the How We Got Here opening scene, complete with the line "I know what you're thinking" — with some even suspecting the script was actually written back then when the games were first popular. Others, however, consider it a niceGenre Throwback.
A lot of Robotnik's humour is this, due to him being an unrepentant asshole who insists on always being right about anything, no matter how petty. Being played by Jim Carrey helps.
The "is that your child" joke, while generally considered cringeworthy when it first appeared in the original trailer, ends up becoming this when given the full context and punchline in the movie proper. Tom responding by saying, "yes, it's a child, but it's not mine"? Not very funny. Tom immediately claiming that Sonic actually likes it in there to reassure the concerned bystanders, only for Sonic himself to immediately deny it? Kinda funny. Sonic then bringing up the fact Tom previously locked him in a pet cage and making things even worse? Pretty damn funny. Maddie awkwardly intervening by zipping it up so he can't make any more noise, causing the bystanders to slowly inch backwards with disturbed looks as Sonic whimpers about being scared of the dark? Cherry on top.
Crossover Ship: Sonic/Harley Quinn has been making the rounds in fanart, for irony's sake since both their movies have gone toe-to-toe against each other. Also, the carefree, fun-loving personality Sonic has in the movie would probably be right up Harley's alley.
The Echidna Tribe responsible for Sonic having to escape and Longclaw's demise only appear in the film's opening for a few minutes yet they have gained a massive fandom following. With some theorizing the tribe being living ancestors to Knuckles.
Agent Stone gets a lot more appreciation than one might initially think, mostly for being the first sidekick of Dr. Robotnik/Eggman who isn't an idiot, a Jerkass or both. Being easily shippable and rather good looking helps.
Jojo obtained plenty of fans for her kindness and adorable willingness to be friends with Sonic right from the beginning in contrast to the usual horrified reactions he got; right up to giving him his trademark red trainers.
Despite many people involved with the film's production debunking the idea, there is a sizable number of fans who believe that Sonic's original design and the first trailer was a publicity stunt by Paramount, with the film getting lots of attention and free press due to the massive backlash and the studio and filmmakers looking heroic after announcing the redesign.
Robotnik's background is something that some fans like to theorize due to his main counterpart's grandfather. The movie only states Robotnik grew in an orphanage, and worked with the government for many years.
Due to her more realistic design compared to Sonic and the other CG characters, it's believed that Longclaw is the only character from the original cut not to have undergone a significant redesign.
Fandom Heresy: Do not say that you prefer the original design over the finalized one, especially since that version of Sonic has been disowned by pretty much everyone who was ever involved with him and the studio delayed the movie to redesign Sonic in order to satisfy the fanbase, which ended up paying off massively. Even having an average or friendly opinion on the design while still not loving it will get you attacked, like what happened to a Tumblr Character account that had the old movie design being friends with other designs Sonic has had over the years before it closed down.
A bit of a rivalry has developed between fans of this film and fans of the Sonic OVA, mainly over which one does a better job at adapting Sonic into a movie. Granted, there are many fans who find both to be good adaptations and films in their own rights, but a good amount tend to be at odds with each other.
Sonic's backstory, in particular the echidna tribe that chased after him. Is Knuckles related to the tribe? Why were they going after Sonic in the first place? Is this why Sonic and Knuckles don't get along in the franchise?
The destruction caused by Sonic and Robotnik in China and Egypt. What type of repercussions could that bring about?
With Sonic essentially getting adopted by the Wachowskis by the end of the film, fans started wondering if other Sonic characters will also later get adopted, either by Tom and Maddie, or by a different human that gets involved.
The fandom is quite fond of "styleswapping", depicting movie-only characters in the style of the video games and vice-versa.
Fountain of Memes: The original design for Sonic became a go-to source of mockery for ripe internet memes once the film's trailer was posted, all on the basis of his infamous redesign alone.
Friendly Fandoms: Fans of this movie and Lilo & Stitch tend to get along really well. Might have something to do with how they have a similar plot regarding a blue quirky superpowered alien fugitive finding a new family and home on Earth.
Gateway Series: This film is responsible for introducing many newcomers to the Sonic the Hedgehog series, which hadn't been popular with the peak mainstream since the 1990s.
Ham and Cheese: Jim Carrey is clearly having a ball while portraying Robotnik, stealing every scene he's in and chowing down on all of the scenery, rather like his portrayal as Count Olaf in A Series of Unfortunate Events (2004). Unlike most examples of the trope, however, his portrayal doesn't overshadow the rest of the film, as he is both true to the character and enhancing the script rather than doing his own thing.
He Really Can Act: After the re-design of Sonic, Ben Schwartz was praised for his voice work as the titular hedgehog. Not only does he manage to be genuinely badass and funny, but he even carries the more emotional moments (like the psychiatrist scene and the baseball diamond scene) and manages to sound legitimately heartbreaking.
He's Just Hiding!: It's unlikely that Longclaw died at the hands of the Echidna Tribe at the start of the movie - while she did get shot and grounded, the injury doesn't come off as life threatening. The last time we see her, the tribe is charging towards her, though it is more likely that they are running for the ring portal she is guarding. This is averted in the novel adaptation, however, where the Echidna tribe are explicitly said to have killed Longclaw.
Ho Yay: Dr. Robotnik and Agent Stone. The latter's utter loyalty to the former is one thing, but the "pin yourself to the wall" line? Robotnik also sticks his fingers in Stones mouth at one point, and after tasting one of Sonic's quills, subtly offers Stone to give it a try.
A rare example of this popping up before a film's release. One fan (over)analyzed the effects of Sonic knocking out the power grid "across the entire Pacific Northwest" and concluded that it would have killed 491 babies in neonatal care.note 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. It gets worse; the EMP was shown to even affect a low-orbiting satellite. How many aircrafts were caught in the blast, and how many of them were above populated areas at the time?
Dr. Robotnik chasing and shooting at Sonic in the middle of downtown San Francisco in the middle of the day. With Robotnik's pre-established lack of empathy for civilian casualties one can only wonder how many people were caught in the crossfire.
Jerks Are Worse Than Villains: While Robotnik is a rude, mad scientist who looks down and insults everyone he meets, at least his over the top acting is fun and has an amusing charm to it. On the other hand, Rachel is an overbearingSassy Black Woman, who hates Tom for no explained reasonnote She claims to suspect him of infidelity, but there's no evidence that would lead her to that conclusion, and nobody takes it seriously. and wants her sister Maddie to divorce the poor guy even before he became a fugitive. She is so obnoxious that she had to be tied up to a chair and left behind in the Wachowskis' home, so that Tom and Maddie can help Sonic.
Once the first trailer was released, many people have said that they plan on watching the movie entirely for Jim Carrey as Robotnik, who looks to be having a lot of fun channeling his trademark 1990s-2000s comedic performances.
After Paramount's decision to redesign Sonic and to delay the film was revealed, a significant number of fans who otherwise weren't interested in the film said that they would pay to see it just because of the effort that it took. The key argument was that it's very commendable that the studio listened to audience concerns and made an adjustment, even at the cost of making the movie go overbudget.
Memetic Badass: The animators. After the initial backlash to Sonic's design, no one actually expected it to get fixed... much less in three months. In addition to loving the new design, many fans have lauded the animators and production team for pulling it off on such a time crunch.
Tom Wachowski also gets a bit of this, if him shooting Sonic in the leg with a tranquilizer dart and the infamous "child in your bag" line is any indication. The latter may also cross into Memetic Molester.
The finalized design of Sonic is generally agreed to look outright adorable, due to his large expressive eyes and his child-like attitude. Especially in contrast to the initial design, which was Ugly Cute at best.
Jojo is such an adorable ball of sweetness who freely gives up a pair of sneakers (aka Sonic's signature shoes) to Sonic.
Moral Event Horizon: Robotnik crosses this line in the first act of the movie when he sadistically uses a Badnik drone to hold Tom at gunpoint for not fielding his questions and trying to hide "the anomaly", only narrowly failing to kill the man where he stands due to Sonic's intervention at the last moment.
The idea of The Power of Love and The Power of Friendship normally would be a finger-gagging saccharine overdose that would make any filmgoer groan. However, what makes this so effective is that Sonic has been running for his life and his existence ever since he was 3-4 years old, and never on any world he has gone to has he been able to make any friendships or connections with any of the inhabitants, so he is understandably extremely lonely, which he shows early in the movie when he plays baseball by himself, and when he hits a home run... no one is in the stands to see it. Cue the tears when he starts to run around the bases at increasing speed in sheer heartbroken fury.
Sonic's one-hedgehog baseball game where he realizes that he'll always be alone.
Sonic's Bullet Time run through the bar and messing with the patrons.
The Robotnik dance. Jimmy really hams it up.
The ending scene that shows Robotnik stranded on the Mushroom Planet, looking and even sounding more like his game appearance, all while he plots his revenge.
Tails' surprise cameo during the mid-credits scene.
Before it was even released, the most infamous scene being Sonic saying "Uh... meow?".
So Bad, It Was Better: While the reaction to the second trailer, and, later, the final movie, was overwhelmingly positive, there are some detractors thinking that the original cut could've been a So Bad, It's Good masterpiece comparable to The Room, with the finished product looking like any other run-of-the-mill family film. Even Sonic co-creator Yuji Naka, who supported the redesign, expressed interest in seeing a rough cut of the original version. There's also the way that Longclaw's design was clearly intended to work alongside the original Sonic, and— while not bad per se— clashes badly with the new one. And, of course, there are the fans who are left wondering what Tails looked like pre-redesign, in spite of Tyson Hesse's claim that he didn't even have a pre-redesign look to begin with.
So Okay, It's Average: The general response from critics leans towards the positive end of "mixed", with a 64% approval rating on review aggregate site Rotten Tomatoes. Critics who disliked the film generally said that while the film is far from bad, the plot is a Cliché Storm of a Human-Focused Adaptation while most of the jokes won't be appreciated by parents or an older audience. Conversely, critics who liked the movie praised Jim Carrey's Laughably Evil performance as Doctor Robotnik and the studio's decision to change Sonic's design, while simultaneously saying the movie wasn't exactly going to set the world on fire. General audience reception has been far more positive, however.
Even pre-release, the first trailer had fans noticing this. The CGI doesn't integrate well in the slightest, looking more like something out of a cheap DTV movie than a big budget film. The scene where Tom first discovers Sonic and the truck scene being standout examples. Most fans likewise compared it to fellow 2019 video game movie Pokémon Detective Pikachu, citing that despite the Pokémon's cartoon-y look, the crew actually took the time to make the Pokémon feel life-like, whereas here it looks like they barely tried. And even though the updated CGI is regarded as a major step up following Sonic's redesign, some shots still have him lit incorrectly.
Special mention goes to a brief shot of Sonic throwing a ring to catch a falling Tom and Maddie and warp them back home. They are clearly lying on their backs on a green screen on the floor, looking less like an effect in a professional Hollywood film and more like a game of Sideways Scene on Whose Line Is It Anyway?.
The effects in the film itself are much better, but there are still a couple moments of this; due to the relatively short period of time the SFX team had to completely redo the effects on Sonic to fit the new redesign, there are a couple scenes where he's very clearly been edited into the scene.
The first teaser poster showing a silhouette of the Sonic design in the movie drew massive backlash upon release. And this isn't just from American fans, but also from Japanese fans, as well. Further adding fuel to the fire is the fact that Sega themselves and all three of Sonic's creators have criticized Sonic's redesign.
The fact that Sonic was silhouetted in the teaser poster led many to accuse Paramount of not being confident in the film or Sonic's design, with some even believing that the secrecy of Sonic's movie design is so that the studio could gauge audience reaction to the redesign without committing to it so that they could make changes to it. Of course, when the full design was leaked in a promotional kit, the backlash subsided slightly. It doesn't help that Tim Miller has admitted that Sega wasn't entirely pleased with their design of Sonic's eyes, which were one of the things conspicuously concealed in the poster.
Sonic's disturbingly realistic, muscular legs were already the most heavily-criticized part of the first poster, so the fact that they were the only parts of him that appeared in the second (which places the camera at about the level of Sonic's groin) didn't help matters.
Back when it was released, the first trailer received a frigid reception, with over 60% dislikes. It made the film look like a mishmash of clichés that have been done to death and/or poorly received in prior video game movies, origin stories, and Human-Focused Adaptations. Then there's Sonic's resemblance to a furry naked child, Robotnik's unfaithful and uninteresting design, a lack of any other Sonic characters like Tails or Knuckles, and a cringeworthy joke near the end (that did manage to work in the film proper due to additional context):
Woman: Do you have your child in that bag? Wachowski: No. I mean...yes, it's a child, but it's not mine. Man: [disturbed] ...That's not your child? Sonic: [inside the bag] Smells like body spray and an old ham sandwich!
They Changed It, Now It Sucks!: Moving the setting to the real-world United States instead of either the United Federation or Sonic's world, note The name "Mobius" being confined to cartoons and comics, never mentioned in the games outside of the odd mention in the non-canon game manuals. along with the film being a Human-Focused Adaptation with none of Sonic's supporting cast of fellow Funny Animals like Tails, Knuckles, and Amy anywhere to be found gave the film an initial sour reaction from the Sonic fanbase, though it did die down a lot after it was established that Sonic's world does exist and looks gorgeous.Likewise, Tails does show up in the end, and the inclusion of the Echidna tribe strongly implies the other characters may show up at some point in any potential sequels.
Some feel that Longclaw deserved far more screen time and elaboration than she was given, due to her role as Sonic's caretaker and the mysteries surrounding her backstory as well as how she came to take Sonic under her wing. None of which is explained in the film proper before she's apparently killed.
The echidna tribe's brief appearance gave little explanation as to why they're after Sonic beyond Longclaw explaining they were after his powers. Not to mention how they could conceivably connect to Knuckles' potential appearance in the film series.
Uncanny Valley: This was the immediate reaction to the teaser poster depicting a silhouetted Sonic, with more realistic proportions that make him look more like a human with Sonic's head than anything else. The reveal of his full design◊ accentuated this perception, with his eyes looking too small and realistic for the rest of the face and his legs and shoes looking too cartoon-y compared to the rest of the body. Once the trailer came out and he was seen in CGI, audiences collectively winced at his human-looking lips and teeth, which are at odds with the rest of his head being nonhuman. Audience reactions were so overwhelmingly negative, in fact, that in a rarity for the movie industry, the studio actually responded with assurances that they'd be overhauling his design by the time the movie is set to release. If the second trailer is anything to go by, it seems like they pulled it off, given the much warmer reception it got, and by the final movie this trope is all but nonexistent.
With how much the marketing painted Sonic and Robotnik as being the only established characters from the franchise in the movie, it was definitely a surprise that it was the Echidnas who first hunted Sonic for his powers and forced him out of his original home. As a bonus, Tyson Hesse confirmed that the one who shot down Longclaw was Pachacamac himself.
Also completely out of the blue, Tails shows up in The Stinger looking for Sonic. Not only were there no hints of him appearing at all in the movie in promotional material or merchandise, but even the more credible Content Leaks beforehand completely missed his appearance.
Visual Effects of Awesome: In spite of the short amount of time the visual effects artists had to replace the old design with the new one, Sonic is very nicely implemented into the environment, slight lighting errors aside.
Values Resonance: The month after the film premiered, the entire world started to feel the isolation firsthand that Sonic feels in the story.
The first trailer badly tried to avert this by instead appealing to nostalgic pandering with "Gangsta's Paradise" (a song that came out during a time when Sonic's Genesis career was still in stride). The fanbase was quick to note how unfitting the song was. The next trailer fared much better, using a remix of Green Hill Zone (along with "Supa Sonic" and "Blitzkrieg Bop", even older songs that nonetheless fit the tone better) instead.
Played straight in that Sonic can be observed flossing twice throughout the film (the first time when defeating Eggman's car, which changed the placement of Sonic's more complex dancing routine used in the trailer to be refitted to when he gets his trademark red shoes instead. The second time when he gets his own cave in the attic of Tom's house).
While attacking Robotnik's first vehicle, Sonic acts like he's filming a live stream, instead of, say, a TV show. While it's reasonable to assume he knows what live streaming is (he was spying on the whole town after all, one such person in the town could be an avid streamer on Twitch), the film only shows Sonic and Co. watching TV.
The announcement that Jim Carrey would play Dr. Robotnik (Eggman) had fans initially call it a brazen case of both Stunt Casting and miscasting. While Carrey's signature slapstick and Large Ham persona are fitting for a character like Eggman, his voice and physical appearance aren't.note Eggman has a deep, slightly elderly sounding voice and a portly figure, both of which Carrey lacks. However, reactions to his actual performance in promotional material have been much more positive, with many saying he's quite clearly having fun with the role. Plus, an interview where he describes Eggman's obsession with Sonic (that the latter is innocence that he's chasing after, but can never have) has been met with praise, saying he gets the character. Further praise came once the film actually came out and Carrey proved able to capture not only Eggman's comical side, but his genuinely threatening and dangerous side. And by the very end of the movie, he not only has the look down (sans body shape) but the voice down too.
An example from the German Dub, but many have complained that the YouTuber "Julien Bam" was cast as Sonic, largely due to him not being a professional voice actor and sounding stilted in the trailer, also for his voice being way too recognizable and some people accusing the studio for casting him for his starpower only, when this movie really doesn't need another star in its cast when Jim Carrey is already a drawing point. Especially in comparison to Sonic's previous voice actors, who are generally agreed to be perfect for the role.
Another example from the French dub, where Sonic is voiced by comedian Malik Bentalha, who has never been involved with the Sonic franchise, has a controversial career and many French-speaking fans wondering why Sonic wasn't simply voiced by his regular voice actors from both games or older cartoon adaptations.
WTH, Costuming Department?: The promotional kit and leaked images revealed that Sonic wears really generic Nike sneakers in the film, leading some to wonder why he isn't wearing the Sonic branded sneakers that Nike already makes which look a great deal more like Sonic's in-game shoes. However, the actual trailer has Sonic wearing PUMA shoes that look much more like his usual ones. Then after the redesign, he is seen wearing new shoes◊ that more resemble his in game shoes.
Win Back the Crowd: Reactions to the first trailer — especially about Sonic's design — were universally negative, and the film was delayed to fix the design. After the second trailer was released, reactions to the design and the general tone of the trailer itself were overwhelmingly positive to the point it had the best likes/dislikes ratio for a YouTube movie trailer in three years. The opening weekend bore this out further, with Sonic outpacing even the best projections and ended up taking in more over its first four days in America than even Pokémon Detective Pikachu.
Despite being allied with Dr. Robotnik, it's hard not to feel bad for Agent Stone. Not only is he not really evil since he doesn't do anything villainous, but he's probably Robotnik's most competent sidekick who does everything he's told and even manages to look after the Doctor's wellbeing at some points. So what does he get in response? He gets treated like shit by his boss who abuses him verbally and even physically at some points. And the one time the Doctor compliments him for doing something right it's by him being yelled at. Lastly, on top of being presumably arrested by the military at the end, one can only imagine his reaction to finding out that his boss mysteriously disappeared.