Editor’s note: The views and opinions expressed in this review are solely those of Marlon Wallace and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of WBOC.
For children, this film features characters that are cute, cuddly and funny, running around doing cool and fantastical things. There’s even one reference to the Marvel Cinematic Universe, so young people can definitely get into this film and have fun with it. However, in a lot of ways, this film feels like it was made for Generation X or those who actually played the video game on which this film is based, back when it was originally released.
Director Jeff Fowler is adapting the franchise of video games that started with the 1991 title for the Sega Genesis. Even if you haven’t played the games in the 20 years since the Sega Genesis was discontinued, which is the case for myself, a lot of the visual references will still ring bells. There feels as though there were a more concerted effort from Fowler and his team to include more iconography from the video games into this film. There are also references both visually and in dialogue to films or pop culture that mostly Generation X would appreciate or those that came of age in the 80’s and 90’s. These include nods to properties like Poltergeist (1982), Ghostbusters (1984) and Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981).
Ben Schwartz (Space Force and Parks and Recreation) stars as the voice of Sonic, the blue alien who has the super-power of lightning speed. He’s an anthropomorphic hedgehog who also has rings that can teleport him to any place in the world and universe. His guardian was an owl named Longclaw that teleported him to Earth after a war killed off their people. A human couple living outside Seattle, Washington, adopted him. Like Who Framed Roger Rabbit (1988), the previous film was mostly about Sonic, a CGI character, interacting with his live-action, human companions. Sonic was basically the only CGI character.
Who Framed Roger Rabbit did have other animated characters. This film realizes the loneliness of Sonic in that regard and attempts to rectify. In fact, it fulfills the promise of the stinger at the end of the previous film and partners Sonic with other animated characters. The stinger in the previous film introduced, the literal, flying fox named Tails, voiced by Colleen O’Shaughnessey, the actress who voiced the character in the actual video games and other media. The stinger really psyched people up to the possibility of how fun a character Tails could be. Unfortunately, Tails is not the breakout of this film.
Idris Elba (The Suicide Squad and Hobbs & Shaw) co-stars as the voice of Knuckles, a red echidna that is also an alien like Sonic. In fact, Knuckles was orphaned by the same war that orphaned Sonic. Knuckles was a child on the opposite side of that war, and because Sonic is the only one left from Knuckles’ so-called enemy, Knuckles blames and hates Sonic. He certainly wants revenge. Knuckles has super-powers, including super-strength. He also has rings that can take him anywhere.
Yet, the film is not just about Knuckles’ revenge. It’s also about Knuckles’ search for something called the Master Emerald, a green gem that feels like the equivalent of the Infinity stones from the MCU. The film becomes akin to a MCU entry or a lot of animated films or even most video games in that it becomes a fetch quest. Knuckles is going after this emerald and Sonic along with his companions have to get to it first. It’s an adorable, treasure hunt of a film. Yet, this animated adventure doesn’t forget its human characters and live-action actors.
Jim Carrey (Bruce Almighty and The Mask) reprises his role of Dr. Robotnik and Carrey is doing his typical Jim Carrey shtick from the 90’s, which is funny for sure. What’s surprising is the amount of time that the film spends on the other human characters.
Specifically, there is James Marsden (Enchanted and X-Men) who plays Tom Wachowski, the town sheriff who is going with his wife, Maddie, played by Tika Sumpter (Southside With You and Ride Along), to his sister-in-law’s wedding. Natasha Rothwell (The White Lotus and Insecure) plays Rachel, the sister to Maddie and sister-in-law to Tom. Rachel is getting married and her wedding is in Hawaii. The film develops a whole relevant story line for the three of them that was also entertaining.
Shemar Moore (S.W.A.T. and Criminal Minds) plays Randall, the fiancé to Rachel. He’s new to the franchise but the film even gives him a bit of an arc to play, which is surprising and also again entertaining.
Rated PG for some action, some violence, rude humor and mild language.
Running Time: 2 hrs. and 2 mins.