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Solid Game, Solid Movie - “Sonic the Hedgehog 2” Review

Story posted April 20, 2022 in

Adapting one entertainment medium into another is no simple task.

Time and time again, the public has seen their favorite characters and stories butchered either out of corporate greed and the need to cash in on a property or the sincere belief that something can be “better.”

One unfortunate example of this that is more frequently than not a sure-fire way to conjure a flop is translating video games into the realm of cinema.

Some sorry examples of this are the forgettable “Assassin’s Creed” movie, “Mortal Kombat: Annihilation,” and most attempts to bring “Resident Evil” to the big screen.

However, that isn’t to say that it can’t be done properly. Movies like 2019’s “Detective Pikachu” and 1994’s “Street Fighter” are enjoyable and show a level of respect for the games they come from. Not only do they function as an adequate rendition of the source material, but are generally good movies.

In 2020, one movie that defied everything working against it and somehow flourished was “Sonic the Hedgehog.” From the start, this movie was plagued by fans and skeptics alike predicting that it would fail, and exceed at doing so.

From the original, terrifying design of the titular protagonist to the general polarizing nature associated with the blue blur, nobody went in with high expectations. What followed was a success story that surprised many in a good way. At that point, a sequel was all but announced.

What movie-goers were met with was a competent, charming and funny sendup to the Sega series that’s packed to the gills with homages to the company’s library, new and old. Everything from the music to the cast just fit in a bizarrely perfect way that was hard to hate.

At last, on April 8 “Sonic the Hedgehog 2” hit theaters, and the response was just as warm as it was two years ago.
Not long after the events of the first movie, Dr. Ivo's “Eggman” Robotnik, reprised by Jim Carrey, has found a way back to Earth with two things on his mind: world domination and crushing his spikey adversary.

To accomplish this, he sets out to find Master Emerald who can grant him “ultimate power,” but he can’t do it alone. Robotnik formulates a strategic alliance with Knuckles the Echidna, voiced by Idris Elba.

Knuckles is the last of his kind that was said to protect Master Emerald, but after losing his tribe, he sought to find and end Sonic as an act of revenge since he too was the only surviving member of his mother’s tribe who fought the Echidnas.

While this is happening, Sonic has been enjoying his life with Tom and Maddie—reprised by Ben Schwartz, James Marsden and Tika Sumpter respectively—but feels the need to continue being a hero after the first clash with Robotnik. The story begins to fall into place when Sonic is suddenly visited by Tails, a two-tailed fox that warns him about Knuckles and Master Emerald being in jeopardy.

Interestingly, Tails is the only character to be voiced by the same person who voices him in the video games, Colleen O’Shaughnessey.

Whether or not “Sonic 2” is superior to the first movie or not is a difficult question. The first movie’s low points are more tolerable than 2’s, but the best moments that the sequel has to offer are to blow its predecessor out of the water.

For the first half of the movie, “Sonic 2” feels like every unbearably generic kids' movie, right down to an overabundance of licensed songs crammed into it for no valid reason.

There’s a dance-off set to “Uptown Funk” by Bruno Mars and a scene where Robotnik flosses. The latter is pretty painful to watch when it happens.

With that being said, the second half is everything a fan of the games could ask for and more.
There are wildly fun fights, a mountain of dignified homages to the games, and an overall abundance of fun to be had watching it—a fan of the source material or not.

To reiterate, the movie suffers from an opening half that could be described as excruciatingly mediocre, but when it gets going, it’s almost enough to make up for it; emphasis on “almost.”

What “Sonic the Hedgehog 2” manages to do is something almost unprecedented: It’s a movie adaptation of a beloved video game that’s not only a sequel but one that is viewed by both fans and critics as genuinely good on both accounts.

In other words, it’s a competent movie and a competent adaptation of the game series it’s from.

Of course, Knuckles wouldn’t appear until “Sonic the Hedgehog 3” when referring to the games, but a movie with just Sonic and Tails might not provide as much to work with. With that being said, the “Sonic & Knuckles” lock-on cartridge did allow him to be playable in “Sonic 2” (the game), so it does sort of work.

At the end of the day, Sega and director Jeff Fowler once again proved that not every game-to-movie adaptation needs to be terrible, and neither do the sequels.

On a final note, fans of the games should stick around for the post-credits scene, because it’s a serious crowd-pleaser.

Rating: 3/5 stars

Jonathan Ross is a fourth-year telecommunications major. He can be reached at jmr7304@psu.edu