SONIC THE HEDGEHOG 2

Reviewed by GREG KING

Director: Jeff Fowler

Stars: Jim Carrey, James Marsden, Tika Sumpter, Natasha Rothwell, Shemar Moore, Lee Majdoub, Adam Pally, Tom Butler, voices of Ben Schwartz, Idris Elba, Colleen O’Shaughnessy.

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The first Sonic The Hedgehog real life action spinoff proved to be popular at the box office, so we get this sequel, which is uneven and overly long but is admittedly a slight improvement on the first film. More money and more thought has obviously been put into this sequel which will certainly please fans of the Sega video game about the adventures of a blue alien hedgehog.  

Jim Carrey was undoubtedly the best thing about Sonic The Hedgehog, the bright, special effects driven live action adaptation of a popular video game about a blue alien hedgehog who moves at lightning speed and imagine himself as some kind of vigilante superhero. Unfortunately most of Sonic’s crime fighting efforts end in disaster, leaving behind a trail of destruction.  

Carrey’s wonderfully energetic and over the top performance as the villainous mad scientist Dr Ivo Robotnik reminded older audiences of his more eccentric and wildly unpredictable performances from his early films. When the first film ended Robotnik had been stranded on the mushroom planet. When this sequel opens Robotnik is still stuck on the planet, bored out of his mind but planning to escape. He gets his opportunity when Knuckles (voiced by Idris Elba), an oversized alien red echidna with large hands and super strength, uses a ring portal to arrive on the planet in search of Sonic and the emerald in his possession. The emerald gives the owner the power to build or destroy civilizations and a wise owl entrusted it to Sonic’s care. Knuckles and Robotnik join forces to return to Earth and find Sonic and the emerald. 

Sonic (voiced by Ben Schwartz, from Parks And Recreation, etc) is now living in Green Hills and has found a home and family with the small town sheriff Tom Wachowski (James Marsden) and his wife Maddie (Tika Sumpter). But when Tom and Maddie are invited to Hawaii to attend the wedding of her sister Rachel (Natasha Rothwell), Sonic is left home alone. Then Knuckles and Robotnik show up and lots of mayhem and destruction follow, much of which is in keeping with the direction of the video games themselves.  

Sonic The Hedgehog 2 has been written by Pat Casey and Josh Miller, who wrote the first film, in collaboration with John Whittington (The Lego Ninja Movie, etc). They remain reasonably faithful to the source material drawing inspiration from the various video games, and also working in plenty of pop cultural references and clever in-jokes. The film also delivers some strong positive messages about the importance of family and friendship and teamwork, and delivers another timely warning that with great power comes great responsibility.   

And while the film does deliver a satisfactory emotional payoff it seems a little over plotted and unnecessarily over long. The bloated subplot in which the wedding nuptials go awry when Rachel’s fiancé Randall (Shemar Moore, from Criminal Minds, etc) is revealed to be an undercover agent working for the Guardian Unit of Nations (aka GUN), an organisation dedicated to handling extraterrestrial threats, and that the wedding itself was an elaborate sting operation designed to trap Tom and hopefully the blue alien creature he is sheltering, is a little bit far-fetched and doesn’t quite work. And Moore’s character goes missing for much of the second half of the film.  

Many of the scenes featuring the hapless deputy Wade (Adam Palley) fall flat. And the overly long “saving the world from destruction” climax is drawn straight from the Marvel playbook, and becomes a little tiresome. 

Director Jeff Fowler also directed the first film in the series and is familiar with the cartoon like quality of the material and the characters and he again recreates the energy of the original for the most part. Fowler hails from a background in animation, video games and visual effects and has an understanding of how to seamlessly incorporate the VFX animated characters into the live action. The film is crammed with lots of visual gags and visual references to the games themselves and packed with large scale action sequences. Sonic The Hedgehog 2 operates on a larger global scale as the adventures take our blue haired hero on a journey from small town Montana to Russia, Hawaii and a booby trapped labyrinth under the sea. 

Again it is Carrey’s manic, exuberant, energetic and scenery chewing performance that elevates the film and he delivers his fiendish dialogue with relish as he twirls his oversized moustache. Lee Majdoub’s role as Robotnik’s dim witted but loyal assistant agent Stone has been extended this time around, giving him more screentime. Colleen O’Shaugnessy provides the voice for Tails, the cute yellow fox who helps Sonic protect the emerald, and she is the only member of the video games vocal cast to reprise her role for the film series.  

★★★

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