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Reviews Film / Sonic The Hedgehog 2020

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02/24/2020 12:58:47 •••

's good. Yeah.

I've thought about it, and that's the adjective I'd use. Good. Not "great," or even "very good," but a cut above "okay."

The visuals, infamously reworked completely after early trailers released, not only to the heavy and unrelenting backlash the studio expected from franchise fans and the games' creators, but from the public at large, are generally pretty good. The CG for things besides Sonic isn't too intrusive, and Sonic himself has a lot of visual personality, with a few minor touches like his worn-out shoes that give him some character. He emotes very well and looks both cute and cool. And the one original character they snuck in without using a design from the games absolutely lives in the Uncanny Valley too, so it's clear that it was a pretty widespread problem.

The characters are surprisingly well-done too, considering. Sonic himself has gone a little off his gourd after years of isolation, living among but not with human beings, and it's made him a bit wacky, but with an inherent pathos that I kind of did connect to, as someone who's had a long few years of loneliness. But he's also, you know, a kid. Excitable, blessed with some wisdom and cursed with an utter lack of knowledge of its limits.

The humans don't completely take over the picture, but they're still pretty good. I appreciated how little fuss the film made about the leading couple's relationship being interracial, and that it was generally mutually-supportive rather than abrasive. I'm not sure I like how Tom's central conflict resolved, but I appreciate he had one besides just being a surrogate parent to a hyper alien. And, of course, Jim Carrey steals the show as Dr. Robotnik, somehow managing to play the character in a cartoonishly-entertaining over-the-top scene-stealer, and still clearly put in some work in imbuing the character with an inner life and deeper workings, in figuring out what makes him tick. Props to James Marsden for holding his own rather than being blown offscreen whenever he shares the frame or scene with Carrey.

Also, the script is funny. I don't know how much was improvised and how much was pre-written, but the jokes are generally actually-funny rather than kids'-movie-funny.

The story's rather thin overall, and only really feels like it kicks into gear halfway through during a spirited highway chase. I would've preferred that earlier scenes of Sonic and Tom goofing around went a bit shorter, and the later Stern Chase take up more of the film. And the product placement is unfortunately extensive, for even weird things that the target audience of children and families won't be interested in, like, of all things, Zillow.

Finally, it's a good entry point to the character. The movie doesn't just assume you like Sonic and Robotnik and work off that; it seemingly works off the idea that this might be the first piece of Sonic media you've ever consumed and sets about trying to get you invested in these characters and their situations. And it understands that Sonic is kind of a spawling media empire that generally developed independently, and includes references to sources as varied as the detailed comic plots, individual frames from the video games, and even his Trademark Favorite Food from the Saturday morning cartoon.

SF Debris, a reviewer I respect enormously, once said the difference between a kids' movie and a family movie is that a kids' movie is just for children, and a family movie is something kids and adults can both enjoy. On that metric, this is a success as a family movie. It's not perfect, and I hope that a sequel can expand on some of these concepts into an even better picture (which, between its incredible financial success and certain things I'm carefully not spoiling, I think it could be well set up to do), but it's good enough that it deserves that second bite at the cherry at a time when many films want it and few of them do.

02/20/2020 00:00:00

Just about everything I wanted to say when I was trying to write a review after I saw this a few days ago. Good stuff.

02/20/2020 00:00:00

Thanks. I always worry that people donít read my reviews, so I appreciate every comment I get.

02/24/2020 00:00:00

Tis the reviewer`s curse!


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