Sonic The Hedgehog 2

Sonic (Ben Schwartz) in Sonic The Hedgehog 2 from Paramount Pictures and Sega.

” If there was a playbook on how to craft the perfect sequel then Jeff Fowler has it hidden in his top drawer. Sonic 2 is breathtaking and effortlessly catapults us into an adventure grand in scale, low on disappointment, and big on laughs”

Game adaptations are a tricky affair. Some are passable, and some are nothing short of abysmal. But when it came to the original Sonic The Hedgehog movie, director Jeff Fowler hit the ground running and never looked back. The result was an action-packed love letter to the original games which hit the high notes with fans and cinephiles alike. And with the sequel now speeding into theatres faster than Sonic can run, expectations are at an all-time high. But can Fowler capture lightning in a bottle again and deliver the sequel we’re all hoping for? Or can we chalk this sequel up as another bitter disappointment?

Sonic the Hedgehog 2
Sonic (Ben Schwartz) in Sonic The Hedgehog 2 from Paramount Pictures and Sega.

Never fear Sonic fans. I am delighted to report that Sonic 2 is brilliant, and not only builds upon the lore established in the first film but blows it out of the water! If there was a playbook on how to craft the perfect sequel then Jeff Fowler has it hidden in his top drawer. This sequel is breathtaking and effortlessly catapults us into an adventure grand in scale, low on disappointment, and big on laughs. And with the inclusion of Knuckles; Tails, and another mesmerizing performance from Jim Carrey, this movie sticks the landing and leaves us wanting more.

THE PLOT

The plot of Sonic 2 centers on Sonic’s failure to grasp the responsibility attached to his growing powers. Despite still being regarded as a youngster, the blue speedster is yearning to be idolized as a hero and routinely slips out in the dead of night to become…BLUE JUSTICE! Vigilante defender of Green Hills and its surrounding suburbs. But his growing egotism has made him reckless. And like any father, Tom Wachowski (James Marsden) attempts to impart the burden of responsibility attached to his supersonic skills. After an explosive start, Tom and his wife Maddie (Tika Sumpter) head off to attend Maddie’s older sister’s (the unconquerable Natasha Rothwell) wedding leaving Sonic home alone to housesit. And it is here where the mayhem begins.

Jim Carrey in Sonic The Hedgehog 2 from Paramount Pictures and Sega. Photo Credit: Courtesy Paramount Pictures and Sega of America.

The tranquility of his impromptu house party is shattered when an old foe makes his hilarious return. Yes, Doctor Robotnik (Jim Carrey) is back and he’s got a brand new stache!. And at his side is the red-glowing Echidna known as Knuckles who promptly overwhelms Sonic with a flurry of power moves. But when Sonic is rescued by a flying two-tailed fox called Tails, they soon discover that Eggman and Knuckles have arrived to claim the Master Emerald. A powerful and ancient artifact that had been guarded by Sonic’s fallen guardian, Longclaw the Owl.

Knuckles (Idris Elba) in Sonic The Hedgehog 2 from Paramount Pictures and Sega. Photo Credit: Courtesy Paramount Pictures and Sega of America.

CHARACTERS

After an intense and frankly hilarious opening, Fowler gets to work introducing us to the newest additions to the cast. With the epic first confrontation still fresh in our minds, we are treated to an exploration of Knuckles’ origins. And they are heavily steeped in SEGA lore. And after a brief but poignant history lesson, Tails takes center stage. Sadly, the introduction of this flying fox is left a little too vague for me, but his arrival certainly ups the ante and doubles down on the adventure aspects. And if there’s any justice, his origins will be explored in greater detail in the threequel!

Seen from the perspective of its CGI creatures; led brilliantly by the unmistakable vocal talent of Ben Schwartz, Fowler frames the movie as a quest worthy of Indiana Jones. One packed to the brim with more thrills, laughs, and easter eggs than you can throw a gold ring at.  The callbacks to the source material are an absolute delight. Fans will get a kick out of spotting all of the tropes and nostalgia articles on display – which proves that Jeff Fowler has done his homework.

Tails in Sonic The Hedgehog 2
Tails (Colleen O’Shaughnessey) in Sonic The Hedgehog 2 from Paramount Pictures and Sega. Photo Credit: Courtesy Paramount Pictures and Sega of America.

A SUPERSONIC ROLLERCOASTER RIDE

The movie boasts the perfect blend of contemporary effects and callbacks to the source material, which gives the adventure a fresh feel. And as the movie progresses it delivers an adventure far larger in scale than the original could ever dream of. Every aspect is bigger and better in Sonic 2, and that is to its credit. It plays to its strengths and it pays off in a big way! And that success trickles into the hilarious jokes woven into the script. Adults and kids alike will get a kick out of what unfolds, with jokes aimed at both demographics. Some will pass parents by. Some will be completely meaningless to kids but will have adults tickled pink.

The balance is perfect and that is all down to a brilliant collaboration from a well-oiled machine of creatives. But both kids and adults alike will be rolling in the aisles when the wedding kicks into high gear. I’m not spoiling anything for you, but let me just say that Natasha Rothwell comes into her own here and pretty much makes the movie. It’s played for laughs and it delivers big time. And if there is any justice in the world, fans will be talking about the sequence for years to come!

Sonic 2 Wedding Sequence
Tika Sumpter and Natasha Rothwell in Sonic the Hedgehog 2 from Paramount Pictures and Sega.

THE CAST

Now, I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again, the success of any movie hinges on the performances of its cast. And I’m delighted to say that the cast of Sonic 2 sticks the landing. Bringing beloved characters like Knuckles and Tails to the fore was always going to be a daunting challenge but Idris Elba and Colleen O’Shaughnessey are more than up to the task. Elba injects Knuckles with his traditional steely, and assertive vocals making him an intense character when he needs to be. But there are poignant moments of genuine weakness where Elba shows a different, vulnerable side to the Echidna warrior that many may not be expecting.

Colleen O’Shaughnessey (who has voiced Tails for YEARS) on the other hand effortlessly slips straight back into gear. And her familiarity with the character is there for all to see.  Long-term fans will get a kick out of hearing her iconic lines being reproduced on the big screen. And her rapport with Sonic leaves you with a sense that these friends truly belong at each other’s side.

Jim Carrey and Knuckles (Idris Elba) in Sonic The Hedgehog 2 from Paramount Pictures and Sega. Photo Credit: Courtesy Paramount Pictures and Sega of America.

SUPPORTING CAST

Ben Schwartz as the voice of Sonic is brilliant once again and delivers many of the best lines in the film. The fart jokes flow with ease and the comedic timing is second to none. The same can be said for the aforementioned Natasha Rothwell who is the form of her life here. In Sonic 2 she is a force of nature and the film is all the better for it. In truth, I was blown away by her performance and her presence is missed whenever she is not on the screen. Sadly though, the film isn’t without its faults. And not everyone gets enough time to shine. And leading the charge are James Marsden and Tika Sumpter.

Reprising their roles from the first film, both are sidelined for large parts of the movie. But when they are involved, both put us at ease with their solid performances. Especially Marsden who assumes a fatherly role to Sonic in the sequel and delivers some rewarding and touching moments.

James Marsden, Tika Sumpter, and Sonic (Ben Schwartz) in SONIC THE HEDGEHOG 2 from Paramount Pictures and Sega. Photo Credit: Courtesy Paramount Pictures and Sega of America.

JIM CARREY

But as is always the case, the star of the show is Jim Carrey. His debut as Doctor Robotnik in the first outing was a delight. And much of the sequel becomes a sandbox for him to play in. The role has allowed Carrey to flesh out another hilariously diabolical villain, and the sequel goes leaps and bounds to bring us more of the same. Moreover, his antagonistic interplay with Knuckles is one of the standouts of the movie, and their constant banter is electrifying. And the dynamic only improves when Sonic arrives to inject his witty sarcasm into the conversation. It’s scintillating stuff, even for a movie designed predominantly for the younger generation. But with the right cast and the right creative team on hand to bring the project home, Sonic 2 succeeds where others have failed.

Jim Carrey in Sonic The Hedgehog 2
Jim Carrey in Sonic The Hedgehog 2 from Paramount Pictures and Sega. Photo Credit: Courtesy Paramount Pictures and Sega of America.

VISUAL EFFECTS

Much in the same vein as its cast, the visual effects of Sonic 2 are on point. However, there are a few issues that still need to be addressed. All too frequently when the human cast interacts with their computer-generated co-stars they never make proper eye contact. The Star Wars prequels established just how difficult it was to interact with CGI characters, and the flaws are yet to be ironed out. Almost every human interaction is blighted by the same flaw, but thankfully it isn’t enough to detract from the movie. And in the grand scheme of things, it amounts to little more than a minor quibble with what is an otherwise very enjoyable two hours and change.

Tails in Sonic 2
Tails (Colleen O’Shaughnessey) in SONIC THE HEDGEHOG 2 from Paramount Pictures and Sega. Photo Credit: Courtesy Paramount Pictures and Sega of America.

VERDICT

Resisting the urge to play it safe in this sequel, Jeff Fowler has delivered a masterclass.  Pat Casey, Josh Miller, and John Whittington’s superb screenplay literally jump off the screen and rewards fans of the first outing with a significant step up. The adventure is bigger, the performances are bolder, and Jim Carrey is larger than life. And with its hauntingly familiar callbacks to the Sonic adventures of yesteryear and an effortless fun factor; Sonic 2 captures lightning in a bottle and does the unthinkable by bettering its predecessor. And that is a joy to behold.

If this is the shape of things to come then sign me up for another outing. This sequel is breathtaking and effortlessly catapults us into an adventure grand in scale, low on disappointment, and big on laughs. And with Jeff Fowler and his amazing team on hand to bring the project home – the future of Sonic The Hedgehog is in very safe hands.

 

Sonic The Hedgehog 2 is playing in UK cinemas now and releases in US theatres on April 8th

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