REVIEW: “Sonic the Hedgehog 2” – The Blue Blur sets the bar again for video game movies


Sonic the Hedgehog 2 is playing in theaters.

Ben Kaiser, News Editor

Editor’s note: This article may contain spoilers for the “Sonic the Hedgehog 2” movie.

I’ve mentioned before that video game movies have a bad rep. They are usually bad, and they disappoint fans of the game series.

Lately, they’ve gotten better, but that bar is still just as mediocre or ‘just okay.’ You would think stories about bald hitmen and treasure hunters would work with movies. Yet, in 2020 and 2022, it’s a blue anthropomorphic hedgehog that runs super-fast, collects rings, and fights a psychotic mad scientist in egg-shaped hovercrafts that is killing it out there. Go ’90s nostalgia!

Sonic comes from a long line of video games, starting from the early ‘90s. Like Nintendo’s Mario, Sonic the Hedgehog has been in video games, cartoon shows, anime, toys, and comic books. In fact, Sonic has been seen as a video game rival to Mario, despite Sonic being way cooler and his games are more fun to play (yeah, I said it, fight me).

“Sonic 2” is directed by Jeff Fowler. Fowler has only worked on the two “Sonic the Hedgehog” movies as a director. Fowler also worked on “Where the Wild Things Are” in the animation research and development section. He also worked on the computer-generated movie production of the “Shadow the Hedgehog” game, a spin-off to the “Sonic the Hedgehog” series. Apparently, Fowler is next attached to direct a reboot of “The Pink Panther.”

“Sonic the Hedgehog 2” has the voices of Ben Schwartz (NBC’s “Parks and Recreations) as Sonic the Hedgehog, Collen O’Shaughnessey (“Sonic the Hedgehog” video games) as Tails, and Idris Elba (“Beasts of No Nation”) as Knuckles, a red echidna with gnarly boxing gloves. James Marsden (“X-Men”) and Tika Sumpter (“Ride Along” films) play Tom and Maggie Wachowski, Sonic’s human adoptive parents. Jim Carrey (“Ace Ventura”) returns as Dr. Robotnik, an eccentric genius obsessed with power and… goat milk lattes.

After his defeat by Sonic, Dr. Robotnik returns to Earth with Knuckles, the last survivor of an echidna tribe. With similar powerful abilities to Sonic, Robotnik tricks Knuckles to get revenge on Sonic. Robotnik also learns about a powerful gem called the Master Emerald, which can grant the possessor with ultimate power. Now Sonic, who teams up with newcomer Tails, must find the Master Emerald before Robotnik and Knuckles do, or the mad scientist will enslave humanity.

So quick disclaimer here: I’m totally a ‘90s kid. And growing up in the ‘90s, I was a huge Sonic fan; I had the games, watched the show, read the comics, and had some of the McDonald’s toys. So when I, an adult with bills and responsibilities, heard of a Sonic the Hedgehog movie coming out, you bet I was ready to shove little kids out of the way for a ticket. I don’t care if this is a kids’ movie; I waited long enough to see a friggin’ “Sonic the Hedgehog” movie.

What was surprising for me was how good the first “Sonic the Hedgehog” movie was. To be honest, I think it was the best video game movie to date. And now this sequel is also just as good. They found a good mixture of originality while keeping it fun both times.

As I mentioned earlier, this is more for kids. But there’s enough for adults to enjoy, especially for us old fans. Lots of game references pop in, such as Sonic dropping his rings after Knuckles knocks him off his makeshift snowboard. In the games, when Sonic is hit by an enemy, he loses all of his collected rings. There’s also familiar game music as Tom’s phone ringtone.

I really liked the voice acting for the video game characters here. Ben Schwartz brings back the same fun, playful energy that he’s well known for if you’re familiar with his stuff like “Parks and Recreation” or the new “Ducktales” cartoon. Idris Elba plays the usual tough guy for Knuckles, yet not used to everyday things like handshakes or fun. Tails is played by Colleen O’Shaughnessey, who has been the voice of Tails in video games since 2014.

Knuckles vs. Sonic

Sonic and Knuckles started off as enemies because of Robotnik’s deceit. This rivalry has always been the center of the two characters in the games, and it’s great to see them re-enacting it for the film. Both seem equal in speed, yet Knuckles seems more formidable with his strength and oversized fists.

Marsden and Sumpter as the Wachowskis are kind of just there to be there. There’s a whole sister-in-law wedding side story shoved in there for some reason, and this keeps the Wachowskis away from the action. Otherwise, they’re pretty much pointless to the story.

Not to mention that the wedding will go awry, and the film spends a long time focusing on it and ignores Sonic and Tails for what feels like waaaay too long. I mean, Robotnik has already found the location to the Master Emerald, and the filmmakers thought we would want to keep watching this Bridezilla-from-Hell-go-nuts-on-government-agents side story? Did the writers realize that they didn’t write enough content to fill in the time and just add stupid ideas from “Bridezilla” shows? This crap really didn’t feel like it belonged in a “Sonic the Hedgehog” movie.

The best part of the movie is Jim Carrey as the evil Robotnik. Carrey rarely plays a villain or bad guy. He’s just so much fun that even when he is evil, he’s likable. I also find it funny that for a character hugely popular in the ‘90s, so was Carrey’s wacky acting from his ‘90s films. It’s a great fit.

Carrey as Dr. Robotnik/Dr. Eggman

This may be Carrey’s final performance; he’s been talking about retiring from acting. If that turns out to be true, at least he went out in a great role for him. Carrey provides fun menace and comedy to Robotnik, and it’s so rewarding to see him being the funny actor that I remember growing up with.

Already the film has done well enough to earn a third film in development. There’s also an announcement for a spin-off series featuring Idris Elba as Knuckles.

“Sonic 2” feels more like a video game adventure than the first one.

There’s a mid-credit scene because everybody has one now. After the climactic battle, the movie’s government agency G.U.N. (Men in Black wannabes) discovers Robotnik’s files containing a research facility, home to a shadowy secret. A possible movie 3 villain?

“Sonic the Hedgehog 2” is currently playing in theaters and will be streaming on Paramount Plus in May.