Leigh Monson: Birth Movies Death
Owen Glieberman: VarietySo yeah, I was pleasantly surprised by Sonic the Hedgehog. I was locked and loaded for this review to be a torrent of ironic appreciation for the kind of misguided thinking that gave rise to the original design in that instantly meme-able first trailer, but instead I found a film that complimented the spirit of the character as much as the superior redesign. Live and learn, eh?
John DeFore: The Hollywood ReporterGiven the level of obsession with which Sonic’s fans regard him, the makers of “Sonic the Hedgehog” would have done well to turn the film into a slapstick theme park of video-game trickery, like the relentlessly imaginative “Ralph Breaks the Internet.” But no! Their truly epic bad decision, far worse than the original fussy humanoid design of Sonic, was to make the “Sonic” movie into one of those clunky live-action adventure comedies with a digitally animated generic weisenheimer plopped into the middle of it.
The trouble with this form is that the live-action setting inevitably results in a cloyingly cheerful camp-sitcom woodenness — in this case, the tale of how Sonic buddies up with Tom Wachowski (James Marsden), a sheriff in the small town of Green Hills, Montana. The two finally land in San Francisco, so that the film can have an action climax set atop one of the towering platforms of the Transamerica Pyramid. Wherever they are, though, they’re an odd couple rotely snarky enough to make your lids droop.
A.A. Dowd: AV ClubA throwback in more ways than one, Jeff Fowler's Sonic the Hedgehog obviously hopes that fondness for a video-game character birthed in 1991 is sufficient to get audiences into theaters for a CG-plus-live action adventure. To sweeten the nostalgic deal for parents of the kids the film is aimed at, Sonic offers Jim Carrey in a performance almost as full-tilt as those of his mid-'90s heyday. His villainous Dr. Robotnik supplies nearly as much amusement as the prickly star of the show, with this duo's hyperactivity balanced out by James Marsden in his nice-guy wheelhouse. The production may have riled the internet months ago, with furor over the look of its first trailer sending FX crews back to work on a character redesign; but what's made it to the screen is light-hearted fun unlikely to offend anyone.
David Ehrlich: IndieWire(D+)
You could call Sonic The Hedgehog a wannabe E.T., except that might require imagining a version of Steven Spielberg’s classic where the extraterrestrial flosses, makes bad Uber jokes, and lectures Elliot about not appreciating what he already has. The film rises not even above the low bar of your average video game adaptation: Last summer’s Detective Pikachu was lousy, too, but it at least offered some gimcrack spectacle in the spirit of its source material. By contrast, this creatively bankrupt project divorces its title character from both the speed and tropical eye-candy, loop-de-loop backdrops of the Sonic games, dropping him instead into drab roadhouses, suburban kitchens, and the passenger seat of a car chugging down a nondescript highway. Even the scant bursts of action are unremarkable; the best director Jeff Fowler can offer is a weak knockoff of the “Time In A Bottle” sequence from X-Men: Days Of Future Past. Only Carrey, half-committing to some recycled uptight-madman shtick, ever threatens to rocket Sonic The Hedgehog out of its pedestrian kid-flick junkyard. You almost want to root for Robotnik, in an enemy-of-my-enemy-is-my-friend kind of way. Which is to say, if the bad guy wins, the good guy shuts up.
Blige Ebiri: Vulture(C-)
If there had to be a “Sonic” movie — and there really didn’t — it needed to stress how the character’s history differentiates him from the myriad other manic toons we’ve been forced to endure in the content era, and not just spin him into a standard piece of family entertainment that feels as slapdash as a run through Casino Night Zone. It’s only during the film’s many egregious moments of product placement that it seems to discover any kind of sincere personality; after all, Sonic is nothing if not a natural-born saleshog.
Scott Mendelson: ForbesThis year’s Sonic the Hedgehog could have been the biggest hit of 1996, in ways both good and bad. From the movie’s shopworn one-liners, to the un-ironic use of the “Yup, that’s me, now you’re probably wondering how I got here” freeze-frame meme, to the spectacle of Jim Carrey (finally, thankfully) being Jim Carrey again, to the random Olive Garden jokes, to the fact that we’re watching, y’know, a Sonic the Hedgehog movie … the whole project feels like it was written, conceived, and green lit decades ago. But that’s also part of its appeal. For all the frantic CGI fantasy — this is, after all, a children’s flick based on a SEGA videogame about a spiny, speedy mammal from another dimension — Jeff Fowler’s film still has a modesty that feels like a throwback to a simpler blockbuster era.
Sam Mackovech: Ars TechnicaSonic the Hedgehog is aimed squarely at kids, but it remains entertaining for adults and feels unusually level-headed and in the moment. And, yes, it’s better than Hop, the other “James Marsden befriends a fantastical creature and tries to get him to where he needs to go” comic road trip movie. The climax gives you your money’s worth without descending into fx-driven chaos, while the focus remains on character even during the final action sequences.
Sonic the Hedgehog is, by the standard of almost any video game-based movie prior to two years ago, a miracle. I can understand why the filmmakers spent the time and money to fix the Sonic designs. They made a pretty good movie, and they wanted to make sure that audiences actually wanted to see it.
Kirsten Kirby-Page: The Washington PostNow, audience members can rest assured that this serviceable, acceptable, not-amazing-but-not-terrible family film wasn't tanked by toothy, limber, squinty-eyed Sonic. With that crucial detail out of the way, the rest of the attached film isn't as sensational or headline-worthy. The series' first live-action film is neither a jolt to the pantheon of Sonic media nor a must-see video game adaptation. We've landed somewhere above The Angry Birds Movie, somewhere below Pokemon: Detective Pikachu.
I'm glad Sonic had enough of its parts in place to get me through a viewing feeling entertained. But the only thing that would get me to recommend this film over other family-friendly options is, honestly, Jim Carrey's performance. Nothing else in Sonic the Hedgehog feels particularly exciting, even within its specific niche of a clear "PG, not PG-13" rating.
Dami Lee: The Verge(★★★ out of four)
Fans of the video games will find a host of allusions, but there’s plenty to please any moviegoer who can’t tell a Sega from a Switch. In the end, “Sonic” is quippy without being mean, and sweet without being sappy, making this a trip that’s well worth taking.
Brian Truitt: USA TodayUltimately, Sonic is a children’s movie that recognizes it may be kids’ first introduction to the hedgehog, so it makes minimal references to the video game world he comes from and spends more time alluding to things they might get. Unfortunately, the gags seem a few years too late, immediately dating themselves: there are multiple jokes about Olive Garden’s unlimited pasta. Sonic does the floss dance not once, but twice. They make jokes about Vin Diesel in The Fast and the Furious. (Actually, this one will probably stay relevant for as long as they keep making FF movies, which is forever.)
The movie shines when it remembers it’s based on a video game, and there’s some genuinely fun stuff — like when Sonic uses his time-stopping powers or Robotnik’s elaborate “evil-plotting” montage that makes you wonder why more movies don’t feature bad guys with choreographed dance sequences. Carrey plays up Robotnik as the cartoon villain he is, and it’s a true delight to watch him in his element.
Heather Alexandria: Kotaku
Oliver Jones: The ObserverSonic the Hedgehog is fine. That’s the best thing I can say for it here, particularly for any diehard reader who finds themselves conflicted about their investment in this movie. It’s fine! The premise is flimsy and the script isn’t memorable but the earnestness is infectious. It’s a silly story about growing up and finding your place, which just happens to have a blue hedgehog and a mustachioed Jim Carrey. If you wanted some intense adaptation of Sonic Adventure or something more specific to the games, you won’t find it here. It’s not your movie; it’s your little brother’s. Leave expectations behind and you’ll have some fun.
Jake Cole: Slant(★★★ out of four)
In what is something of a movie miracle or at the very least an unexpected surprise, this adaptation of the much-loved Sega video game franchise launched nearly 30 years ago as a direct assault on Nintendo’s leaping plumber Mario, largely presses the all the right buttons—and even does so in the right order.
Directed by Jeff Fowler, making his feature-film debut after directing the 2004 Academy Award-nominated short film Gopher Broke, the film exudes an easy charm and affability. Its joyfulness and lighthearted sense of fun go a long way towards counterbalancing the cynicism and slick hucksterism baked into this sort of endeavor, which—even when you are enjoying its straightforward appeal—never lets you forget it is as much a product launch as it is cinema.
Kellen Beck: Mashable(★1/2 out of four)
For a film that gained notoriety well before its release for how wildly Sonic’s original animation diverged from his well-established look, Sonic the Hedgehog does show a clear understanding of the source material and its essential nature. Sonic, fundamentally, is a goofy character with a specific power who just wants friends, and as exasperating as the film can be in its overbearingly clumsy humor, it at least never tries to make the character more complicated than he really is. But the lack of any greater depth to the core of the material limits the possibilities of making any of this meaningful to anyone.
Video games long ago began to reveal their cinematic aspirations, but the Sonic the Hedgehog series to this day continues to channel the old-school cool of platformers that prize gameplay—and testing the player’s hand-eye coordination—over matters of story. There’s plenty of potential for movies and games to inform one another, but perhaps the only aspect of video game culture that Sonic the Hedgehog brings to cinema is the trend of allowing preemptive fan outrage to necessitate overhauls from already overworked animators.
Brandon Zachary - CBRIf you’re a Sonic fan of the '90s or '00s hoping for some deep cut references or something that appeals to your developed tastes and critical thinking, you’ll probably walk away disappointed. And if you're looking for a fun movie full of heart and great characters, you'll probably walk away disappointed too, because this movie feels empty, even if it is pretty.
Roger Moore - Movie NationFor what it's worth, the potential for a weird-and-wild family blockbuster seems to be somewhere in the DNA of Sonic the Hedgehog. The cast is certainly strong, the action can be fun, and if it had been more willing to go big with its odder elements, the film could have been something special. However, instead it's jumbled at best and lackluster at worst. Pop-culture references that already feel dated abound and the story finds convenient ways to halt the plot and keep it from moving nearly as fast as it could -- and should. The movie's inability to maintain a consistent tone trips up what could have been a fun experience, blunting the elements that actually work.
Edward Douglas - The Weekend Warrior(★1/2 out of four) This isn’t the best film to make one’s feature directing debut with. But Jeff Fowler had an animation research job on “Where the Wild Things Are,” so he’s just happy to be here. It’s doubtful anybody else could have gotten more out of this limp script.
But I dare say hedgehog-sized tykes — say seven-and-under — will be tickled enough by this to make it a late-winter sleeper.
Other Sites/Reviews of Interest:(8/10)
Sure, the plot can be a bit predictable with certain parts clearly geared to kids, but there’s also slew of pop references that display some real talent in the writing of the movie so that it can be watched and enjoyed by people of all ages.
Is it possible that Sonic the Hedgehog is the first thoroughly entertaining movie of the year? Yes, indeedy. (Definitely stay through the first bunch of credits if you are a Sonic fan!)