Fans of a certain anthropomorphic blue hedgehog named Sonic (voiced by Ben Schwartz) will be delighted to know that the first film, released in 2020 was not a one hit wonder. Following up on his directorial debut, director Jeff Fowler and returning writers Pat Casey and Josh Miller along with writer John Whittington (The Lego Batman Movie) offers a sizeable expansion with the sequel suitably titled Sonic the Hedgehog 2. Who could have seen that coming? That’s the theory for a sequel of a popular video game adapted film that is a result of a successful first film – an influx of cash to churn out a follow up as fast as possible. Oh the world of short attention spans that we live in.
Why not go big? It is in the saying go big or go home, after all. The first film teased the introduction of Tails (voiced by Colleen O’Shaughnessey), the anthropomorphic yellow fox who can propeller himself through the air at great speeds using his two tails. The problem in going bigger in regard to this sequel can be found in the script itself. Minor characters from Sonic the Hedgehog are given a more involved role that stretches the film thinly with the introduction of Knuckles (voiced by Idris Elba), an anthropomorphic red echidna and the return of Dr. Robotnik (Jim Carrey).
With a noticeably longer runtime than the first, coming in at a hair over 2 hours, Sonic 2 easily is at its best when the hedgehog, fox and echidna are the featured characters on screen. Whereas the human element cut in between moments of searching for the legendary Master Emerald weighs the film down bringing any momentum gained to a sudden halt. Returning as Sonic’s surrogate parents Tom (James Marsden) and Maddie (Tika Sumpter) take a vacation to Hawaii for Maddie’s sister Rachel’s (Natasha Rothwell) destination wedding. With the parents gone, Sonic has the time of his life turning the house into his own theme park until Robotnik makes his grand return to earth after being stranded on a mushroom planet.
If this is truly the last performance of Jim Carrey as an actor, the legendary comedian spares no time pulling out all the stops from his classic performances. If paying close attention, his Grinch can be heard mixed with his turn as the Riddler in Batman Forever. Somehow blending all his characters into one final jaw-dropping ride (Yes Man & Liar Liar are a couple of my all-time favorites of his). Carrey picks right up where he left off with Robotnik only with the more classic look of the character from the games (minus the weight). To say Carrey commands every scene is an understatement – he owns this franchise.
While on the voice acted side of things, Schwartz doesn’t miss a beat, fully delivering comedic line after comedic line, channeling his inner Jean-Ralphio once more (cue the character yelling “the worst” at the top of his lungs). If Carrey is the backbone of this franchise, Schwartz is the heart and soul. He impossibly makes Sonic more likable and charming than previously accomplished in the first. Joining Schwartz is veteran of the series Colleen O’Shaughnessey, reprising her voice talents from the games, adding a familiarity to the adaptation and the two together have a dynamic chemistry between them. After all Sonic and Tails are synonymous with the franchise since the introduction and creation of the characters by Yuji Naka and Naoto Ohshima in 1991. Adding in Idris Elba as Knuckles is just the icing on the cake.
Sonic 2’s themes revolve around responsibility and family – both equally given enough attention to. Sonic is still considered a kid with a lot of growing up to do. He zooms off at night to fight crime mimicking Batman and calling himself “Blue Justice”. Patent-pending. It’s Sonic’s desire to be a hero that pushes him to stopping Robotnik by any means. Going fast will only get him so far. When Sonic is at his loneliest, that’s when the sense of family comes to lift him back up. It’s not about the family you are born into but the one you make along the way.
Going into a sequel of just about anything, the skepticism is fearing that the film will just be a re-telling of the first, only bigger and shinier with more of a budget. Trepidation and all, Sonic 2 sometimes leads into a familiar scene but blows all expectations away, putting the story above the character and what worked before. Fans of the games and franchise will admire what writers Casey, Miller and Whittington accomplish with the sequel. Exploring more of the mythology and lore of the games, the sequel out does the first in that regard. And as soon as the credits roll, all bets are off. A third film is absolutely coming, no question about it. The deafening roar of approval from adults and kids alike prove this franchise is here to stay and claim that it’s the best video game adaptation.
Jeff Fowler takes what has worked with adventure films, comedies and dramas and blends it into one. I couldn’t stop myself from laughing with a moment straight out of Raiders of the Lost Ark and the joke that followed. To an adult, moments like those will land while the younger audience will be sure to get a kick out of the one-liners. Sonic 2 will be enough of an attention grab for kids that will also attract an older audience and keep them fully invested.
Despite the stretched too thin sub-plots and human characters that shouldn’t matter to this story which absolutely could have been left on the cutting board, Sonic 2 is a fun, nostalgia driven and charming sequel. Bring on the third.
Written By: Pat Casey, Josh Miller & John Whittington
Directed By: Jeff Fowler
Music By: Tom Holkenborg
Cinematography: Brandon Trost
Starring: Ben Schwartz, James Marsden, Tika Sumpter, Natasha Rothwell, Adam Pally, Shemar Moore, Colleen O’Shaughnessey, Lee Majdoub, Idris Elba, Jim Carrey
Release Date: April 8, 2022
Running Time: 2 Hours 2 Minutes
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 65%
My Score: 2.5 out of 5
Based On: Sonic the Hedgehog created by Yuji Naka & Naoto Ohshima and Owned by Sega