Overlong Insta-Sequel Provides Frenetic Action – Deadline

Was it only two years ago, a month before the lockdown, that Sonic the Hedgehog was riding high in theaters, only to be curtailed when most of them had to close? Who knows how high it could have flown, but it remains a record holder for this kind of video game movie adaptation. Paramount obviously could sense that the audience is there for the blue speedster hedgehog and the world of characters that can keep emerging from the popular Sega Genesis console game, but coming up with an instant sequel in just two years is pretty remarkable for this hybrid live- action/animation format.

Director Jeff Fowler is used to the pressure, though, having gone through hell after an early trailer for the original film sparked online conternation over Sonic’s visual look, sending the film back for retooling before its release. This time, with formula fixed, locked and loaded, the filmmaking team could move at the same warp speed as its title character.

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As for the results, in terms of artistry, it is hit and miss. But in terms of fan appeal, the filmmakers are throwing much more against the wall, and judging from the reaction at a press preview I attended, kids will still eat it up — even at a way-too-generous two-hour-plus running time. No toon this looney should be that long.

Also the plot, such as it is, is pretty much standard. Hero Sonic (voiced by Ben Schwartz) joins forces with two-tailed yellow fox tails (Colleen O’Shaughnessey) in a game of good vs. evil in order to capture the much-desired Master Emerald and keep it out of control of villainous Dr. Robotnik (an over-the-top Jim Carrey). The latter is seen being held captive on the Mushroom Planet as the film begins — but fear not, evil fans: He will find a way back to Earth and mayhem.

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The bad doctor links up with Knuckles (Idris Elba), who is empowered only to get his hands on the emerald and will stop at nothing — something Robotnik immediately decides to exploit for world domination. And the race is on.

Meanwhile, Sonic has settled back in Green Hills, Montana, sort of the dutiful teenage son as it were of Tom (James Marsden) and wife Maddie (Tika Sumpter). Of course, this is quite the unusual parents/hedgehog relationship, but hey let’s go with it. Trouble begins when Sonic is left at home as Tom and Maddie travel to Hawaii — with lots of product placement for the Four Seasons Oahu for a wedding of cousin Rachel (scene stealer Natasha Rothwell) — but you can bet the little blue guy and buddy Tails get into lots of trouble before starting their journey to save the world. The highlight comes when they literally crash the wedding and all hell breaks loose. The bride-to-be’s ring is a key prop here, and Tom gets his own big moment dealing with that and the arrival of the wayward “son.” It all leads to a frenetic, zany, CGI-laden finish, but stay for the credits as the next popular character from the franchise is teased for STH 3. And don’t doubt that sequel will be coming your way with lightning-fast Sonic speed.

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As for the live-action characters. Marsden and Sumpter make a pleasant pair to hang with in Hawaii, and Carrey seems to enjoy playing the dastardly villain, if not with quite the panache of his Grinch. Adam Pally is back providing humorous interludes as Wade Whipple from the Sheriff’s Department, and Shemar Moore is the dubious groom for Rachel. The animation is flawlessly matched here, and Schwartz provides just the right voice for the title star, as does O’Shaughnessey as Tails, and Elba as the ever-present Knuckles. The script comes from Pat Casey & Josh Miller and John Whittington. Producers are Neal H. Moritz, Toby Ascher, Toru Nakahara, Hitoshi Okuno. Paramount releases it April 8. Check out my video review with scenes from the film at the link above.

Do you plan to see Sonic the Hedgehog 2? Let us know what you think.

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