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(Before I say anything, I must make clear that I never judge any fan film on their CGI. It's a fan made film, they just DON'T have the money. But you never need money to have a good idea. So this review focuses on the direction and interpretation they chose to give Sonic.)
Darkier And Edgier seems to be the go-to tone for reboots nowadays. Just take any age old franchise, gritty it up a notch, add some dirt to its cheeks and boom. Reboot. In some cases, a darker interpretation can actually reveal and explore new things about a franchise's characters and scenarios (Batman always benefited from this). And other times...you get "Sonic".
The film mercilessly tries to play everything as straight as it can. All of it is darker! Edgier! More serious! 'Robotnik' and is now crueler and badder than ever. He has ruthlessly taken over the region and now rules his own little dystopia. There's a rebel force struggling to fight back. Times are bleak and all is desperate. Well. Except for Sonic.
See, the only thing not darker and edgier...is Sonic himself. Sonic has remained pretty truthful to his wisecracking blue furred self. But therein lies the problem, Sonic doesn't fit in with anything else in the short film. This cartoonish lighthearted jokester feels severely out of place. The film takes itself so straight-faced seriously that it doesn't take a moment to appreciate the absurdity of its very premise. A mad scientist faces off against a anthropomorphic hedgehog that can run rings around jet planes. That's flipping awesome. It sounds more fun than a barrel full of monkeys. Except it isn't. "Sonic" is devoid of any sense of humor. It's such a wet blanket, it's a shame. Sonic should not be drab. Sonic is FUN at its very core. It's why we played the games and watched the shows. This new direction is anything but fun, it simply does NOT work with Sonic.
Now, "Sonic" shouldn't really be seen as a film, it's more like an experiment. It barely has any character development or much narrative. But that's fine because virtually, the very thought it's based on is, "Wouldn't it be cool if Sonic was realized in a live action movie?" And the answer is yeah, that would be totally cool. Unfortunately this isn't it.
The idea of making a live-action film based on Sonic The Hedgehog sounds absurd, or creative, depending on your point of view. Depending on who you ask, this film either shows that it can be done, or shows why it wouldn't work.
Blending multiple Sonic continuities together, this film features a grittier, much more cruel form of Dr. Eggman, his name being changed back to "Robotnik" like in the early Genesis days. Robotnik has taken control of the world's human population in a setting similar to Station Square from Sonic Adventure 1, using methods similar to the gritty Saturday morning cartoon (as opposed to the comedic weekday afternoon one), but G.U.N., the military unit from Sonic Adventure 2 opposes him. Tails the Fox and other Sonic mainstays are nowhere to be seen (for the most part), and it's otherwise just Sonic and Dr. Robotnik, much like the very first game. All taking place in a realistic setting that blends real people with a cartoon hedgehog, much like Sonic 2006. That's a huge mix of continuities.
The result works in its own way. The continuity blend allows the filmmakers to create their own original story and focus more on the human characters, therefore lowering the budget for special effects.
It's a bit jarring, however, seeing a blue cartoon hedgehog coexisting alongside real people, especially in something which is not a comedy. The movie tries to reduce this effect by making Sonic more "realistic", which means that he is colored a realistic shade of blue and has smaller quills to go with his cartoonishly large ones, making him look like an odd mixture of cartoon proportions and realistic texturing. When you combine that with some of the action movie stunts that Sonic performs, such as riding a missile through the sky and jumping off it only to land on a bee robot in midair, you get what is essentially a cartoon character doing cartoon things in the real world. Throw in some animal-themed robots, of which some were modified to fit with the grittier theme and others were not, and the gritty/cartoony mix is truly strange.
But I admire the film's creativity and production. Can Sonic the Hedgehog work in a real life setting? If you have enough imagination to accept the absurd, then yes.
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