Sonic the Hedgehog (Photo: Paramount and Sega)
SONIC THE HEDGEHOG
★★ (out of four)
DIRECTED BY Jeff Fowler
STARS James Marsden, Jim Carrey
While some might have preferred a starring vehicle for Deadpool’s Negasonic Teenage Warhead and others may have opted for a mainstream film starring Ron “The Hedgehog” Jeremy, the reality is that viewers have instead been handed Sonic the Hedgehog, a feeble feature based on the Sega video game.
In this live-action/CGI hybrid, the Sega-Sonic Teenage Bedhead — a blue-furred extra-terrestrial hedgehog with the ability to run at an incredible speed — is presented with a slight backstory before he’s propelled to Earth via a ring left over from the set of the Tolkien trilogy. After roughly a decade on our planet, he ends up bonding with small-town sheriff Tom Wachowski (James Marsden, perfectly fine even though he frequently looks like he wants to be somewhere, anywhere, else) while steering clear of the crazed genius Dr. Robotnik (Jim Carrey).
The headline story coming out of Sonic the Hedgehog isn’t so much the long-awaited big-screen debut of its title critter or even the highly publicized character redesign after viewers shrieked at his quasi-humanoid appearance in the initial trailer. Rather, it’s the return of Carrey, who, after a 15-year reign as a top box office star, has been largely MIA over the past decade. Seeing Carrey back in action made me realize that I didn’t really miss him. His brand of slapstick shtick, always an acquired taste anyway, feels particularly moldy at this point in time, and while his mugging in this picture should amuse the small fry, it will more likely leave adult viewers irritable and impatient.
Like too many video-influenced features, this one spent so much time (twice!) on applying the CGI that no imagination was left to power the screenplay. (It remains ironic that the two Wreck-It Ralph flicks, movies about video games, have managed to display far more creativity than movies actually based on video games.) Sonic the Hedgehog is one big sugar rush, devoid of any real content as it zips from one grasping set-piece to the next. To the film’s credit, Sonic (voiced by Ben Schwartz) is actually an engaging character, and, given the plot point of the creature needing to perennially stay out of sight, the movie somewhat succeeds in conveying the anguish of a life spent alone. But all of his speed-racer exploits are instantly forgettable, and the sideline grown-up drama (similar to The Photograph, Marsden’s lawman must decide whether to move to another city to further spread his wings or remain put) will bore adult and offspring alike.
Not surprisingly, Sonic the Hedgehog ends with a pair of sequences that both promise a sequel in our near-future. But before that follow-up materializes, it might be best for all involved to pause for air and introspection before simply rushing to create more mediocrity. After all, it’s been rumored that slow and steady wins the race.