Director: Jeff Fowler
Screenwriters: Pat Casey, Josh Miller, and John Whittington
Starring: James Marsden, Ben Schwartz as the voice of Sonic, Tika Sumpter, Natasha Rothwell, Adam Pally, Jim Carrey, Shemar Moore, Idris Elba as the voice of Knuckles, and Colleen O’Shaughnessey as the voice of Tails
Cinematographer: Brandon Trost
With such recent disappointing video game adaptations, it’s hard to get excited about upcoming ones. Truth be told, I’m not sure Hollywood has ever conquered the art of making good films based on video games. In 2021, WB Pictures underwhelmed audiences with Mortal Kombat. More recently in February 2022, Sony Pictures attempted to take on Naughty Dog’s beloved Uncharted – to no avail. Who then could have predicted that it would be Paramount Pictures’ sequel to Sonic the Hedgehog that would win this gamer girl’s heart?
In all fairness, I predicted this myself. Before the world “shut down” in 2020, Sonic the Hedgehog was one of the last movies I saw in theaters, and I’m still not mad at that. The filmmakers did a great job bringing to life the cherished Sega character on the big screen. Fast forward two years later to April 2022, Sonic the Hedgehog 2 is here to reclaim the top spot at the box office. And all I have to say is this: video game adaptations—take notes!
The story follows Sonic (voice of Ben Schwartz) after he’s had time to settle into his life in Green Hills with his new family Tom (James Marsden) and Maddie (Tika Sumpter) Wachowski. After defeating the evil genius Dr. Ivo “Eggman” Robotnik (Jim Carrey), Sonic self-proclaims to be the world’s greatest hero. Full of confidence and enthusiasm, he heads out to save the day, though he fails to do so cleanly. After all, he’s still just a kid with no grasp on true responsibility and what it takes to be a great hero. But when a greater threat reaches his doorstep—the return of Dr. Robotnik with new sidekick Knuckles the Echidna (voice of Idris Elba)—Sonic must put aside childish play to save the world from grave danger.
There is so much to look forward to with Jeff Fowler’s Sonic 2. The story itself is great for all ages as it concentrates on family and responsibility. Mix that in with great action sequences, good CGI, and a cast that pulls out all the stops to create authentic gut laughs, and Fowler’s got himself a recipe for a great video game adaptation. To make matters better, there are some genuine heartwarming moments that received some “awes” from me out loud. And with a mid-credit scene like the one in this film, it’s hard to escape the hype. What more can you ask for?
I’d be remiss to rave about Sonic 2 without going into detail on this outstanding cast. In a rare occurrence, the film balances both the human elements and its main CGI characters. But there’s no lack of quality on either side. Adequate attention is given to all characters, new and old, and there’s no compromise to the pacing or storytelling. I don’t know how they pulled it off, but I’m glad they did.
Voice actor Ben Schwartz is amazing as Sonic, and newcomers Colleen O’Shaughnessey (Tails) and Idris Elba (Knuckles) fit right in. As always, you can count on Jim Carrey (Dr. Robotnik) to bring his all to a role. Here, he ramps up derangement and chaos in true Carrey fashion, giving a non-stop great performance since the opening sequence. The true standout for me, however, was Natasha Rothwell as Maddie’s older sister Rachel. The script avoids the ‘useless side character’ trope with ease and perfection, and Rothwell’s comedic timing is excellent. Her character had my theater erupting with laughter, which was a beautiful site to see.
With so many references to the original video games, great character moments, and clever jokes for adults to enjoy, Sonic the Hedgehog 2 is the adaptation that has saved me from video game movie hell. The film not only capitalizes on the relationships built off its predecessor to establish a cadence for heartwarming narratives, but the great storytelling stands opposite of its high energy and non-stop entertainment. So, if you’re out there wondering if Hollywood can create a film based on a video game then ramp up the quality in a sequel, look no further than this franchise. My only hope is that the rest of the industry takes notes because they’ve got quite the catching up to do when it comes to creating a video game adaptation that various audiences can enjoy.
Check out the trailer for Sonic the Hedgehog 2 — in theaters April 8, 2022: