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Sonic the Hedgehog (2020)

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This article is about the 2020 film. You may be looking for the Sonic the Hedgehog (OVA).
Sonic the Hedgehog
Yay it doesn't suck.jpg
This movie does what NintenDON'T.
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Action
Adventure
Comedy
Directed By: Jeff Fowler
Produced By: Neal H. Moritz
Toby Ascher
Toru Nakahara
Takeshi Ito
Written By: Patrick Casey
Josh Miller
Based On: Sonic the Hedgehog
by Sega
Starring: Ben Schwartz
James Marsden
Tika Sumpter
Jim Carrey
Adam Pally
Neal McDonough
Lee Majdoub
Cinematography: Stephen F. Windon
Distributed By: Paramount Pictures
Release Date: January 25, 2020 (Paramount Theatre)
February 14, 2020 (United States)
June 26, 2020 (Japan)
Runtime: 98 minutes
Country: United States
Japan
Language: English
Budget: $81–95 million
Box Office: $308.4 million
Franchise: Sonic The Hedgehog
Sequel: Sonic the Hedgehog 2 (2022)


"With Sonic, they redesigned it, and you know what? It appears to have worked, because Sonic the Hedgehog, which I never had huge expectations for and I have to say is probably at best, okay, is a much better movie than Cats, firstly because... (It's not the greatest compliment, is it? - Simon Mayo) No, it's also, I can imagine, they're not gonna put on... I mean, if you compare it with the game to screen transitions of, say, for example: While we go back to the 90's, the Super Mario Brothers, or Super Mario Bros, I think it was called officially, or Street Fighter with Jean-Claude Van Damme. I know that since then, we've had some great sort of games of video things. I mean, you know, you've had, like, if you think about Pokemon Detective Pikachu, which is a really brilliant film, which I know it comes from a number of different sources, but it's possible, or The Lego Movie, which technically, because The Lego Movie is based on Lego, but it's basically based on the Lego, you know, console game, as opposed to being based on Lego. (Yes. - Simon Mayo) Those are great movies. (Yes. - Simon Mayo) Generally, video games to films, not great movies, so, in the case of this, it's not Detective Pikachu and it's not The Lego Movie, but on the other hand, it's not Super Mario Bros. and it's not Street Fighter. It's not terrible, it's bearable."
Mark Kermode, BBC Radio 5 Live


Sonic the Hedgehog (not to be confused with the 1999 OVA film of the same name) (known in Japan as Sonic the Movie or commonly referred to by fans as The Sonic Movie) is a 2020 American-Japanese adventure comedy film based on a video game franchise and the 1991 game of the same name published by Sega. It stars Ben Schwartz as the title character Sonic, Jim Carrey as his nemesis Doctor Ivo Robotnik, James Marsden as Sonic's human companion, and Green Hills sheriff Tom Wachowski, and Tika Sumpter as Tom's wife, Maddie.

The film was scheduled to released in theatres on November 8, 2019, but due to negative reaction to the first trailer, specifically regarding Sonic's design, the film's release was delayed by three months to redesign Sonic; Sonic the Hedgehog premiered at the Paramount Theatre on January 25, 2020, the film was pushed back to February 14, 2020, which is officially released. In Japan, it was released on June 26, 2020. The sequel titled: Sonic the Hedgehog 2, based on the 1992 sequel game of the same name, is scheduled for release on April 8, 2022, in addition to a third one named after the 1994 sequel game of the same name, and a Knuckles centric TV series that takes place within the movie continuity, the latter slated for a 2023 release on Paramount+.

Plot

The world needed a hero -- it got a hedgehog. Powered with incredible speed, Sonic embraces his new home on Earth -- until he accidentally knocks out the power grid, sparking the attention of uncool evil genius Dr. Robotnik. Now, it's supervillain vs. supersonic in an all-out race across the globe to stop Robotnik from using Sonic's unique power to achieve world domination.

Why It Speeds It Up

  1. Addressing the elephant in the room, the visual effects are impressive, with the computer-animation used for Sonic standing out. Other notable examples include computer-animation used for scenes like in Green Hill Zone and in Sonic's running scenes, as well as for Robotnik's robots and rockets.
  2. Although the movie's grasp on the source material isn't brilliant by all means, it stays true to the source material, which fixes a problem with several live action/animation hybrids like Yogi Bear, Hop, the Alvin and the Chipmunks tetralogy, The Smurfs duology, and The Garbage Pail Kids Movie, even if the movie's grasp on the video game franchise isn't as good compared to Pokémon Detective Pikachu.
    • It also adds to the fact that unlike most of those other adaptations, they make the CGI character the main protagonist of his own movie, rather than making him second fiddle in favor of some bland generic human character.
  3. Great adherence to the source material with many Easter eggs referencing the video game franchise.
    • Sonic uses a sign that says "Hill Top Rd" as a board for table tennis.
    • Ring Portal references to Giant Ring that sent to other locations, such as bonus stages.
    • An island that resembles Green Hill Zone is present, and the town known as Green Hills which is referencing the zone from both the original game, and the Game Gear version of Sonic the Hedgehog 2.
    • One scene shows Sonic doing a pose similar to his render for Super Smash Brothers Ultimate.
    • Sonic also refers to Robotnik as "Eggman", his nickname in the games, more than once.
    • The film even includes the Echidna tribe, which is even led by Pachacamac from Sonic Adventure 1 to boot.
    • The mushroom planet is a reference to Mushroom Hill Zone from the game Sonic & Knuckles.
    • The credits animation resembles that of the original games from the 16 bit era, which is very creative even for a video game movie. (See Trivia down below for what it was also used in).
  4. One of the greatest things about the movie and why it became such a big hit in the box office is that following the negative reception of the first trailer, the film was made with genuine passion and it's evident that Paramount and the director Jeff Fowler care about the fans who grew up with the games and other media and respects the intelligence of children (the film's main target audience) rather than pandering and insulting them.
    • Although it could use a bit more faithfulness, Sonic's design and animation here are both exceptionally well made. In fact, it's a big improvement over his Sonic Boom design and is more faithful to his design from the original franchise rather than the design from the first trailer released in April 2019. This design has his red shoes, gloves, eyes, head, and general body proportions, while still given a more realistic feel.
      • It's no secret that Tyson Hesse did all this.
  5. On top of that, the movie does something new with the same clichéd story as Hop and The Smurfs.
  6. Amazing casting choices and acting; Jim Carrey, in particular, puts his famous charisma into Robotnik, channeling his iconic 1990s film roles and stealing the show. Ben Schwartz is hilarious and endearing as Sonic, capturing the charm of the original voice actors for Sonic, Ryan Drummond and Jason Griffith, as well as Roger Craig Smith, with the character's heroic and optimistic attitude. James Marsden also brings a lot of humidity and realism to Tom Wachowski, playing as a great straight man to Sonic's antics.
  7. Funny, well-written comedy, notably when Sonic plays baseball with himself simply because he is fast enough to be in over one place at once, and his attempt to disguise himself as a cat in front of Tom, but fails. The fight at the bar is also a great parody of an iconic scene with Quicksilver in X-Men: Days of Future Past, and Sonic referring to Tom as the "Donut Lord" is also funny.
  8. Amazing soundtrack by Tom Holkenborg, with the "Speed Me Up", a song that plays in the credits, standing out. "Friends" from Sonic Mania can also be heard during the opening scene with Baby Sonic.
    • Speaking of Baby Sonic, he has a adorable design, especially when he first appears, although he can sometimes look rather similar to the old design from the infamous first trailer, more specifically when he bids farewell to Longclaw and is sent to Earth (depending on your view).
  9. Some lines will never get old, such as Sonic's "Uhhh....meow?", Robotnik's "Oh, give me a big fat break!", "I was not expecting that. But I was expecting not to expect something, so it doesn't count" and "That was an illegal left, by the way!", and Tom's heartwarming "That little alien.. knew more about being human than you ever will".
  10. Lovable and sympathetic characters:
    • Sonic the Hedgehog is a creature from another world who lost his motherly figure at a young age and has been living his entire life on Earth as a loner.
    • Dr. Robotnik is an eccentric but intelligent orphan scientist who comes from a history of bullying and has no value for human life other than his own, being a well-written and flamboyant villain all the way through.
    • Tom Wachowski is a Green Hills cop with the noble goal of saving and protecting lives and repeatedly makes sacrifices for Sonic and his wife, Maddie.
      • It deserves a mention that Tom and Sonic have amazing chemistry, and both execute a funny and heartwarming take on the bromance dynamic.
  11. Several heartwarming moments, like Tom’s niece Jojo giving Sonic his trademark shoes.
  12. Amazing action, complete with well-executed climaxes. The final battle between Sonic and Robotnik is a primary example.
  13. Not one, but two exciting post-credit scenes (one after the title card and one halfway through the credits) that promise a sequel. The former involves Robotnik being alone on the Mushroom Planet, gaining his iconic bald head and bushy mustache, and claiming he'll be home by Christmas. In contrast, the latter involves Tails coming out of a portal ring and taking flight to find Sonic, setting up his involvement in the sequel.
    • Speaking of Tails, his character design in this film is adorable like always.
  14. A creative twist on the Paramount Pictures logo, in which the stars are replaced with rings. The music is also set to an orchestral rendition of the Green Hill Zone theme. The Original Film logo variant is also creative, with a deeper blue for the text and a red background.
  15. The pacing is well-done.
  16. The film often pays homage to other elements of pop culture that involve Sonic, like the Super Smash Bros. Ultimate pose mentioned before, and Crazy Carl sketching Sonic, with the sketch resembling the old internet meme Sanic.
  17. Brilliant direction from Jeff Fowler, even for his directorial debut.
  18. The cinematography is awesome, especially for a live-action video game movie.
  19. The camera movements feel incredibly solid and very well-done for 2020 standards.
  20. Even though the portal ring is kind of inaccurately represented, it is a cool idea.
  21. Overall, this movie is not only a good start to the Sonic cinematic universe, but a fine excuse for Jim Carrey to tap into the manic energy that launched his career indeed.

Bad Qualities

  1. While the idea of a live-action Sonic the Hedgehog movie sounds good on paper, it's not perfectly executed as it does have a few flaws that pretty much fall into the cracks.
  2. The story (depending on your view) is rather generic, fairly predictable and clichéd, as it involves an anthropomorphic character arriving from another world after Longclaw the Owl sends him through the portal and into the real world, where they meet a human protagonist. They, at first, don't get along and eventually become friends, and they cause tons of mayhem as the movie progresses. Many have pointed out similarities to Hop (though, they're done right here), which are ironic given that James Marsden starred in both films as the human protagonist.
  3. Despite its faithfulness to the games with some really neat references, this movie is a little too different from the video game franchise in terms of its writing. In other words, some parts of this movie have a somewhat poor grasp of the source material. For example Sonic's fur becomes electrified whenever his emotions are at their strongest; a feature never exhibited in any of the games or any other continuity, and even the movie is called Sonic the Hedgehog, a lot of Sonic characters and elements don't appear in the movie, like Knuckles, Amy, Metal Sonic, Shadow and not even Super Sonic, but to be fair, they didn't appear in the 1991 original game of the same name (except Tails and Knuckles in later releases), nor does Tails play a major role in this movie as he only has one minor scene.
    • It was later revealed that Knuckles, Super Sonic and Shadow would appear in the sequel.
    • Eggman himself, is Jim Carrey and doesn't have a fat design since his alias is a misleading nickname, or the iconic faithful design he was always known for until near the climax of the film (especially in the ending).
    • A subplot involving the sister of the human protagonist's wife being not so overly fond of whom her younger sister is married to feels completely out of place in a Sonic movie.
  4. Development hell: Originally, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer tried to get Sonic the Hedgehog made into a movie back in the mid-1990s. Considering that none of the concepts presented to production staff had anything to do with the video game source material, it's actually a sigh of relief that the dreaded Wonders of the World concepts never even made it to script form. However, MGM attempted to revive it to DreamWorks, although DreamWorks didn't seem to be that interested in helping at all. Additional attempts to have it inspired by Sonic SatAM or the Archie Comics series were not even successful. Not helping that the disgraced Archie Sonic writer Ken Penders purposely sabotaged Ben Hurst's idea by claiming to SEGA that Hurst was trying to co-opt the franchise so he can show the giant video game company his own idea, but was shut down in 2007 due to corporate upheaval. An OVA movie adaptation was released in 1999, and originally, Sony Pictures acquired the rights to create a live-action adaptation (blended with CGI) in December 2013, but then Paramount acquired the rights to give it a shot in 2017, due to Sony's financing issues, and eventually, it was released in 2020 to critical and commercial success, leading to the creation of a sequel. As the films are expected to be based entirely on video games, it's safe to say the concept from MGM is dead.
  5. Troubled Production for many reasons:
    • Earlier attempts to adapt the franchise not withstanding, Sonic was originally set up at Sony Pictures in 2014, just before the studio's devastating cyber attack resulted in a management shakeup, thus delaying its planned 2016 release. Before then, Sony had a turbulent time trying to negotiate the rights. Former co-screenwriter Van Robichaux also got into a number of fights with Sony executives, most notably Amy Pascal (who left the studio not long afterward over the hack fallout), over the film's creative direction.
    • The film's producer and Sony executive Neal Moritz didn't get along with new studio head Tom Rothman, who didn't see Sonic as a top priority as he wanted to focus on rebooting older Sony franchises as well continue to milk the Spider-Man movie license for all its worth. Rothman sat on the film for more than a year before deciding to let Moritz start working on the film in late 2016. Tim Miller, who had just bailed from Deadpool 2, was hired by Moritz as executive producer, bringing frequent Sonic collaborator Blur Studio into the movie. Robichaux and partner Evan Susser were subsequently fired, replaced by Patrick Casey and longtime Blur associate Josh Miller. Things seemed to be moving forward until the failure of Passengers and the loss of financing partner Lone Star Funds, and out of nowhere, Sony cancelled the movie via turnaround as a result before a release date could be announced. Moritz got tired of Rothman's antics and left Sony altogether for greener pastures at Paramount, who then bought the Sonic movie rights and finally moved the film out of pre-production. The budget cuts Paramount imposed upon the movie shortly thereafter resulted in filming being moved to Canada, instead of Atlanta as originally planned.
    • After filming wrapped up, Sega, whose contract stipulated they would co-finance the movie and own half of the film's copyright, had to oversee every aspect of production to ensure it stayed faithful to the franchise. In particular, they frequently sent notes to the visual effects team expressing dislike towards Sonic's realistic, muscular body in the movie, with their biggest criticism being towards Sonic's eyes. They also initially forbade the producers from referring to Dr. Eggman as his former North American name, Dr. Robotnik, though in the end the producers and SEGA worked out a compromise to allow the name to be used.
    • When the trailer was released, fans and critics complained over the original look of Sonic as being unfaithful to its source material and looking downright horrifying for children, the film's intended target audience. It turned out that the original design for Sonic in the movie was entirely ordered by Paramount because they wanted to replicate the aesthetics of their prior Transformers and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles films, openly knowing full well that the fans would hate it yet feeling the rest of the general public would be more open to it. The backlash ended up being so strong that director Jeff Fowler decided to go back and redesign Sonic altogether, which ended up adding additional months to the production schedule and forced the visual effects artists to work overtime. The release date was pushed back by several months so Paramount could properly compensate the visual effects artists. The redesign was rumored to have increased the movie's budget by $35 million, but in reality, it ended up costing only $5 million.
    • Naturally, crunch was involved. According to a VFX artist who worked on the redesign, a large load of work still in progress was thrown out after Paramount changed course, with artists being forced to work up to 10-12 hours during a 70-hour work week for six weeks. And to add salt to the wound, just after the redesign was sent to Paramount, MPC’s Vancouver branch, which was primarily responsible for re-animating Sonic, was shuttered abruptly by its owner as part of a corporate restructuring, resulting in all of the artists who were involved in the redesign finding themselves out of work just several months before release.
    • The film opened to surprisingly decent reception, making it one of the few aversions of Video Game Movies Suck, and outperformed box office expectations with a record $58 million opening, and made over $300 million worldwide while also beating out Pokémon Detective Pikachu for the highest domestic gross ever for a video game-based movie, finally giving Paramount a solid hit after massive flops such as Terminator: Dark Fate, Gemini Man, and The Rhythm Section and starting a new franchise for the studio.
  6. Executive meddling: Initially, when Sony Pictures Entertainment owned the rights to create the film back in the Summer of 2014, it was originally expected to be a crossover featuring all or most of the Sonic characters mentioned above written by Evan Susser and Van Robichaux. For some reason, Robichaux wanted to give the movie a Darker and Edgier look in the hopes that it would snatch a PG-13 rating to boost its box office chances. But despite that, Eggman was expected to be animated instead of live-action. However, when the film jumped ship to Paramount, the early drafts, plus the concept of Eggman being animated instead of live-action were thrown out of the window despite them being arguably more faithful to the games thanks to its use of all the Sonic characters, rather than just Sonic, although they luckily rewrote the screenplay in order to make the film more family-friendly. The action-oriented sequences, however, were kept in.
  7. The Japanese dub is rather weak for one reason: Instead of casting Jun'ichi Kanemaru as Sonic, it instead casts Taishi Nakagawa for no apparent reason.
  8. While enjoyable for the whole family, some of the content in the movie can be a little too inappropriate for younger kids, such as inappropriate toilet humor, violent sequences and threat, which explains the obvious reason why it's rated PG.
    • Not to mention, it can be way too foul-mouthed for a kids movie at times.
  9. There are a few overdone product placements, and some unnecessary dated pop culture references, like the Zillow and Olive Garden scenes (though one of the writers confirmed the gift card scene was just a gag) and Sonic flossing twice, which is counted as the most cringe-worthy part of the film. It even made a few Sonic fans angry about the outdated attempt at being hip with the kids, as well users on the internet to get mad over it more so than every other attempt where a character flosses.
  10. Plot hole: Even though Sonic can avoid missiles, he can't avoid a tranquilizer dart, which makes zero sense.
  11. Despite its impressive animation and visual effects, the color grading for Sonic (while not bad in the slightest) can feel rather unappealing, a bit too cheesy and somewhat rushed at times as it barely resembles the advertising or the games.

Reception

Pre-release

The film was delayed and Sonic was redesigned after the original design (left pictured) was heavily criticized. (Even Paramount had regret using this original design of Movie Sonic.)

Test footage was screened at the Comic Con Experience in Brazil on December 6, 2018. It was followed by a teaser poster released on December 10, 2018, revealing the silhouette design of Sonic, with the tagline "A Whole New Speed of Hero", when were released. It received mostly negative response from critics and fans of the franchise, criticizing an unidentified, dark Sonic face that wasn't revealed yet, and was compared unfavorably to another 2019 video game film adaptation, Detective Pikachu, which added fur and skin textures to the Pokémon characters. A second poster was leaked online shortly after. Fans complained of a lack of resemblance to the games and criticizing the positioning of Sonic's furry legs at the Golden Gate Bridge, spawning an Internet meme in which users recreated the position. The film's official Twitter account posted an image of Sonic behind a sign reading: "Can't a guy work out?" Images of the Sonic design were leaked in March 2019 to more fan criticism. Sonic co-creator Yuji Naka was "shocked" by the design and felt the ratio of Sonic's head and abdomen was imbalanced.

Eventually, the first trailer of the film premiered on April 4, 2019, at CinemaCon in Las Vegas and on April 30, 2019, when Paramount Pictures released online, it was near-unanimous criticism by critics, audience, and even fans alike, due to Sonic’s uncanny humanoid appearance, as well as the use of "Gangsta's Paradise" song that don't necessary fit, with Gita Jackson of Kotaku calling it "horrific" and "a blight upon this weary earth". The video had more dislikes than likes. Conversely, CNET's Sean Keane praised the humor and references to the games. Within two days, the trailer was viewed more than 20 million times on YouTube, and had received hundreds of thousands of "dislike" ratings, drastically outnumbering the "like" ratings. Director Jeff Fowler announced that Sonic’s design would be changed, and it was later announced that the film would be pushed back to February 14, 2020, due to the negative response.

On November 12, 2019, Paramount made the original trailer private, and released a second trailer, showcasing Sonic’s new design. The trailer received far more positive responses by critics, audience, and even fans alike, with many praising Sonic’s new design. The tone and the humor also received positive reviews, as did the choice of song, J. J. Fad's "Supersonic". Naka said he felt the new design was "much more Sonic-like". The second trailer received thousands of likes and the highest like-to-dislike ratio of any trailer on Google in the last three years. The trailers have garnered a total of more than 500 million views worldwide.

Critical reception

Sonic the Hedgehog received mixed reviews from critics, as well as universal acclaim from audiences and fans alike, who praised the performances (particularly that of Schwartz and Carrey), Sonic's character design and animation, visual effects, action sequences, and its faithfulness to the source material, but criticized its story for its perceived lack of originality. On Rotten Tomatoes, the film has a critic score of 64% and an audience score of 93%. Its consensus reads, "Fittingly fleet and frequently fun, Sonic the Hedgehog is a video game-inspired adventure the whole family can enjoy -- and a fine excuse for Jim Carrey to tap into the manic energy that launched his career". On Metacritic, the film has a score of 47/100, indicating "mixed or average reviews". The user score is 8.1 out of 10 based on 1,324 ratings, meaning "universal acclaim." It is often considered one of the best video-game based movies, along with Pokémon Detective Pikachu and The Angry Birds Movie 2.

Box office

In the US and Canada, the film grossed $70 million on its opening weekend and has grossed $131.9 million overall. In comparison, it grossed $141.1 million in other territories, for a total of $273 million worldwide against a $95 million production budget, making the film a commercial success. It is currently the second-highest-grossing film of 2020 (followed by Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba the Movie: Mugen Train, with $474.6 million), and set the record for the biggest opening weekend for a video game movie adaptation in the US and Canada, beating the $58 million set by Pokémon Detective Pikachu.

Legacy

On May 28, 2020, Paramount Pictures confirmed that a sequel was in development. Much of the crew had returned. Filming was set to take place between March 2021 and May 2021, under the working title Emerald Hill. This was a reference to the first level of the game Sonic the Hedgehog 2 (1992), and it features a remix of the "Emerald Hill Zone" theme from the game. In January 2021, Sumpter announced that she was reprising her role as Maddie. She also announced that the sequel would film in Vancouver and Hawaii. On February 9, 2021, The Illuminerdi reported that the studio was considering Jason Momoa for the role of Knuckles, but later on, it was confirmed that Idris Elba will voice Knuckles instead. The title, Sonic the Hedgehog 2, was confirmed on February 10, 2021. The film was scheduled for April 8, 2022. On March 15, 2021, Jeff Fowler confirmed that production of the film had begun.

Not only that, a third movie and a Knuckles centric TV series within the Sonic movie universe were announced in February 2022.

Videos

Trailers


Left: Original trailer released on April 30 (original upload removed by Paramount).
Right: New official trailer released on November 12, 2019.

Reviews

Trivia

  • In 2014, it was revealed that Sony Pictures Entertainment was originally going to make the movie. Ironically enough, the company name of Sony was created by combining two words of "sonus" (which is a similar word) to "Sonic" and "sonny".
  • On October 2, 2017, after Neal H. Moritz, the owner of Original Film company, signed a feature film production deal with Paramount Pictures to produce feature films, starting in 2019, Sony Pictures Entertainment relinquished its rights to the film and its production staff to Paramount Pictures.
  • Unlike other movies on home media which shows a still image of the poster, has a unique menu, or shows clips from the movie, this movie uses the first 20-30 seconds of the credits animation for the DVD, Blu-ray and Ultra HD Blu-ray main menu, just with the producer's names removed. The same animation is used in the Speed Me Up music video as well, and a tie-in comic adaptation that came with certain copies of the film.
  • Despite Ben Schwartz voicing Sonic in the movie, his name is not listed on the poster for some strange reason.
    • However, the poster for the second film corrects that mistake.
  • Jeff Fowler once said "it didn't make sense to obviously bring in the Super Sonic thing just yet." which explains the reason why the original concepts were scrapped in the first place.
  • The original design for Sonic would later make a gag appearance in the 2022 Disney+ movie Chip 'n Dale: Rescue Rangers, voiced by Tim Robinson.
  • Jim Carrey wanted to play Dr. Robotnik as his daughter loved the games.

External Links

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