I don’t think Jeff Fowler’s Sonic The Hedgehog is by most metrics a “good” movie in that the story is relatively simplistic, yet at the same time not terribly well told though it’s watchable for reasons I don’t think the people that produced it intended.
I originally had no intention of seeing this movie, which has less to do with it being an adaptation of a video game I didn’t particularly care for – though it certainly didn’t help – that it was iTunes Rental of the Week, which means that it cost less than a dollar though “Sonicgate” was was on my mind as well.
And for those of you that don’t recall, Sonicgate revolved around the first version of the character Fowler was working with before it was released to the public, we lost our collective minds, and the character was retooled.
As you can see, he looks weird. I guess they were aiming for a more anthropomorphized look, but it just comes off as off-putting.
The version they went with (which is in the poster) is more in line with what the character looks like in the video game, which makes sense (it also makes sense in terms of the box office, because while you can’t necessarily prove a negative, Sony was rewarded by a box office return of $308 million on a budget of $90 million).
Though that’s only the start of what makes this movie so damn fascinating.
First, the story is essentially the same as Masters Of The Universe (1987) though what’s particularly odd is that some of the story beats are also the same (as in there’re actual scenes in Sonic The Hedgehog that are too similar to be a coincidence, particularly when Skeletor enters our world from Eternia).
Then you have Tom (James Marsden) and Maddie (Tika Sumpter) who are less actual characters than Sonic (voiced by Ben Schwartz) who’s composed entirely of CGI, which is also very weird (but very, very interesting in it’s own right).
I don’t mean that as an insult against either Marsden or Sumpter, both whom are attractive people and do fine with what they’re given, which unfortunately is relatively little. Speaking of which, it’s also a portrayal of a mixed couple (he’s white, she’s African-American) that you don’t see all that often, namely one where they seem to lack any sense of history and reality.
And sure, it’s called “Sonic The Hedgehog” not “Loving, but anything to make them Tom and Maddie feel more like actual people and less like outlines would have been appreciated.
Sonic and Dr. Robotnik, by contrast, are more fleshed out.
The former is a bit of a creep, who spends way too much time looking through the windows of Tom and Maddie’s house though apparently all they do is watch television, probably not the only things people do in the privacy of their own homes but I did warn that they were particularly bland characters.
Sonic is also a bit of a fabulist who somehow blames Tom for the situation he happens to be in, as if he had anything to do with his exile to Earth or forced him to hang around their small town.
Though Jim Carrey’s turn as Dr. Robotnik is just amazing in it’s weirdness. I don’t know what character inspired his performance, but if it were Frank Booth from Blue Velvet (1986) I wouldn’t be surprised.
Carrey’s Robotnik hints at all sorts of darkness that puts his portrayal more in line with Gene Wilder’s of Willy Wonka in Willy Wonka & The Chocolate Factory, who also appeared oddly sinister and off-kilter as well.
There’s even a call back to Predator (1987), which isn’t the reference you’d typically expect from a movie with the kiddie demographic firmly in mind.