Review: 'Sonic The Hedgehog 2' (2022) Dir. Jeff Fowler
After the surprise success of 'Sonic The Hedgehog' in 2020, the sequel arrives to help tie-in both video game and movie adaptation, promising faster, frantic, funnier mayhem for all...
Supersonic anthropomorphic hedgehog Sonic (Schwartz) lives in Seattle with his guardians Tom (Marsden) and Maddie (Sumpter), now enjoying a fun-packed lifestyle after banishing evil Dr Ivo Robotnik (Carrey) to the Mushroom Planet.
Yet Robotnik escapes the inter-dimensional planet thanks to the arrival of Knuckles (Elba), a powerful anthropomorphic echidna who is seeking Sonic in a personal quest to avenge his old tribe and reclaim their powerful Master Emerald, one that Robotnik wants for himself.
When Sonic discovers these new threats, he is helped by Tom and Maddie, but also an anthropomorphic fox called Tails (O'Shaughnessey), who has followed Sonic for many years. Together, they must find the Master Emerald and stop Robotnik before can harness its power...
As with all video game adaptations, the material is a gamble. Where most fail to make a true dent in the box-office or find lasting critical / fan acclaim, 2020s Sonic The Hedgehog overcame initial CGI backlash to become a surprise hit for old and new fans. Director Jeff Fowler brings back the original cast and some new faces (and voices) to help expand both the beloved Sonic video game lore and original ideas laid down previously.
However, at just under 2 hours long, there feels to be a little imbalance with the second outing for our favourite blue speedster. Now juggling two new CGI characters, new human co-stars and more action, not everything works in keeping this snappy and attentive. It slows to a sluggish pace when Fowler tries to continue side stories belonging to our comical humans, such as Natasha Rothwell as OTT sister Rachel, overly dumb deputy Adam Pally and secret Government agent Shemar Moore. When these are on screen taking on various little side-line plots, the humour and pace dips and it feels very out of place. Thankfully the likeability of James Marsden and Tika Sumpter’s Donut Lord and Maddie save certain scenes, but they don’t feel like key players, unlike their time in the first.
The winning formula is the inclusion of Idris Elba’s mean and mighty Knuckles, and Colleen O’Shaughnessey as fun fox Tails who inject the heart, humour and action that carries this sequel.
The visual effects are bright, fast and full of energy just as they should be to bring these three beloved video game characters to life. Speed lightning cracks with power, plasma burns and bubbles and when Sonic and Knuckles clash, it makes for some exciting viewing that makes for some of the best sequences. Elba brings the right amount of menace and sly humour to Knuckles, making him a great anti-hero opposite the childlike fun of Schwartz as Sonic. Franchise veteran O’Shaughnessey returns to voice the young, zippy Tails and does the job perfectly. The three work really well together across their scenes and more of their interaction and stories away from the humans wouldn’t have gone amiss to keep the kids entertained.
Jim Carrey (in a potential final film role if his retirement is happening) never seems to recapture the magic of his eccentric Ivo “Eggman” Robotnik as he did back in 2020. While more faithful to his video game look and style, complete with more deadly robot weaponry and the Eggman Robo that fans will recognise from the 1994 game Sonic & Knuckles, Carrey doesn’t have much to work with. While he injects lots of his villainous melodrama and zany antics last seen when he was The Riddler, this Robotnik seems to play second fiddle to Knuckles, which isn’t a bad thing, but when he’s doing his thing on screen, he just doesn’t seem to evoke the old Carrey we saw last time, which is a shame. Yet, he still gives an enjoyable, passionate performance leaving the door open for a future return to the role.
A few in-jokes aside, admittedly far less than the first, the theme of this second outing is heavily focused on friendship and doing the right thing in the face of adversity. Morality is pretty simply for a kid’s film, and you’ve seen these narrative threads time and time again, but never with a super-fast cheeky blue hedgehog and his fox friend leading the way. It’s about discovering how best to use your abilities for the best and what it means to help others. Ever harmless, and it will be sure to resonate a little with younger audiences who are carried away in the fast action, cute dance-offs and silly violence that never goes too dark or dismal to spoil the family friendly fun.
Expanding on the original but carried by the trio of Sonic, Tails and Knuckles, this sequel stumbles with pace and balancing action with melodrama, but entertains the kids and lays foundations for future lore expansion.
'Sonic The Hedgehog 2' is a co-production between Sega Sammy Group, Original Film, Marza Animation Planet and Blur Studio