“Sonic The Hedgehog 2” is everything that a sequel should always strive for. “Sonic 2” did just that with the principle of hitting the ground running while fleshing out the story to feel expansive, committing to world-building, introducing the established lore without bogging down the narrative of the film, and compromising the spirit of the franchise.
It’s a perfect family film that bears something of interest for everyone. With the emphasis on the animated characters and thrilling setpieces, Paramount cares about the legacy of Sonic.
Director Jeff Fowler and the entire cast continue to honor the legacy of the fabled Sega franchise, ensuring the future is exceptionally bright for Sega’s poster boy. The way Fowler utilizes the comprehensive history of the games is impressive. The film includes countless Easter eggs, visual callbacks, and character motivations, to giving off the impression of this being a game at times due to perfectly recreated set pieces to fit the tone and style of the film without comprising the story.
I remember hearing the audience break out into thunderous applause and express various emotions to seeing Sonic snowboard, grabbing a bubble while drowning, similar to the early days of Sega Genesis, Knuckles climbing up a wall, and last, still not least, Tail’s plane adorned with the same logo and color palette from “Sonic Adventure” during the days of the Dreamcast. Then you look around and notice that the theater is filled with various age demographics, ranging from parents with their kids to adults like myself. Like everyone enjoyed the experience and, for most, like myself, enjoyed seeing our childhood on the silver screen. It was a surreal moment. The power of rekindling lost memories is always the best direction to approach certain franchises.
I felt that fans of the franchise crafted the film while expressing love for Sega and our blue hedgehog. There was something infectious about the execution and approach from behind the scenes. Many will question the success of the CGI and say it felt fake or out of place. The visual effects increased in quality, and every character looked impressive.
Again, I would respond and admit you are watching a live-action “Sonic The Hedgehog” film. You should overlook the CGI flaws and, instead, be entranced by Knuckles going toe-to-toe channeling his anger against Sonic. Or the moments of seeing Tails hovering in the air, trying out a new gadget to save the day, or seeing Sonic have the time of his life seeing Eggman seething over the countless robots being destroyed. These moments were crowd-pleasers.
One element of praise was the pacing and how the story never felt bogged down with showcasing the friendship between Tails and Sonic or fleshing out the lore and mythology of the iconic gaming franchise. Instead, everything felt familiar, progressed organically, and ensured all in attendance understood what was going on, and it worked.
I loved hearing Ben Schwartz as the goofy blue hedgehog, and I can confirm Schwartz hasn’t missed a step. I broke out into laughter during most of the film for how Sonic was portrayed, even though the pop-culture references will be hit or miss with fans. Though Schwartz harnesses immense chemistry with James Marsden, who returns from the original in a somewhat bloated subplot, the morals between the characters are what will ignite conversation.
Other than that, Tika Sumpter and Marsden also returned in a slightly more diminished story role, but both were on a top-notch level. If honest, the human characters did deliver some moments of laughter to break up the tension and were heartfelt at other times.
It was terrific to see Tails and Knuckles be introduced and not feel bogged down or out of place. Instead, each was integral to the plot and was thoughtfully brought to life with great execution from Colleen O’ Shaughnessey and Idris Elba. Shaughnessy was in constant sync with Schwartz, and it’s no wonder why she has voiced the character since 2014 because I can’t hear anyone else embody this character other than her after this scene-stealing performance. I hope this is a sign that other voice actors can also transition to the silver screen one day because it’s time for the world to see their gift and be regaled by the enormous range of talent only found on consoles and the realm of animation.
Idris Elba brought this type of stalwart warrior and dry sense of humor, which was hilarious, but also retained the patented Knuckles toughness to show the difference between the iconic characters, which felt quite similar in tone and motivation to the lore of the games. It’s no wonder that Paramount felt comfortable with greenlighting a spin-off series for the character. I felt Elba stood his ground and showed his worth, and Knuckles will be a fan favorite after viewing.
Jim Carrey was again back as Dr. Robotnik, commonly known as Eggman. He was quirky, calculated, and oddly comfortable, especially in the sequences where Carrey let loose and ate up the screen. Those moments were pure 90’s Jim Carrey, and it works in this film from the arsenal of infinite one-liners that always seem to land. Not to mention his zany attitude and threatening, yet subtle, nature of the iconic antagonist. It seems Carrey was having fun and elevated everyone around him.
One of my favorite characters was Dr. Stone, who returned from the 2020 film. I noticed Majdoub elevated his role with humor and empathy, which helped give context and layers. Stone’s arc was simple like the last film, but his scenes with Carrey and Elba were definite highlights, and they are sure to keep you gleaming with laughter well worth the admission.
“Sonic The Hedgehog 2” is a love letter to the games and understands the fans’ passion for the character and franchise. It’s a perfect family film that bears something for everyone. Director Jeff Fowler continues to leave his stamp on the series as our hero races to the future, safely reassuring our favorite blue hedgehog is in safe hands. Also, stay for the credits to see where the story is headed next.
“Sonic The Hedgehog 2” gets four stars out of five.