Sonic the Hedgehog 2 – Film Review
by Jamie Waddell
Director – Jeff Fowler
Writers – Pat Casey(screenplay by), Josh Miller(screenplay by), John Whittington(screenplay by)
Stars – Ben Schwartz (voice), Idris Elba (voice), Colleen O’Shaughnessey (voice), Jim Carrey
Your favourite oddly anthropomorphic hedgehog is returning to the silver screen for the sequel to Sonic the Hedgehog (2020). Dr Robotnik (Jim Carrey) returns to earth having been banished at the end of the last movie, only this time he has a spiky little accomplice. Knuckles (voiced by Idris Elba) has come to earth in search of the ‘Master Emerald’, a world-destroying gem of power. Sonic (Ben Schwartz) teams up with another new friend Tails (voiced by Colleen O’Shaughnessey) to try and get the gem before Knuckles and Dr Robotnik, as they plan to destroy the world.
Sonic the Hedgehog 2 is by no means a bad movie. It is funny at points, has a number of standout action set-pieces that almost made me shuffle to the edge of my seat. It features a number of good performances and has an Indiana Jones style quest that while having the problem-solving complexity of a Dora The Explorer cartoon, is nonetheless interesting to watch. While I quite enjoyed it, I would struggle to call it a good movie. Why is this? I think it comes down to a couple of factors.
Firstly is it too long to keep even an ardent Sonic fan entertained. I would struggle to pick specific scenes to cut but by the end of the film, it feels every minute its two-hour duration. No child is going to want to sit still for that long. This feeling of overstaying its welcome bleeds into the comedy also.
There are some genuinely funny moments in this movie. A couple of genuine chuckles, a fair amount of nasal exhales and a whole lot of involuntary cringe-induced groans. Idris Elba as Knuckles is played like a child delinquent, low hanging fruit humour that apart from one scene (where he is reading out text messages) just don’t land.
Jim Carrey’s performance is the epitome of this problem. So many funny lines that are overshadowed by jokes which will cripplingly date the film in the even 3 years (mentions of Flossing, Dabbing etc.). It is too greedy and often just is too much.
Sonic’s “parents” Tom (James Marsden) and Maddie (Tika Sumpter) have a much larger role in this film, including a whole sequence where they go to the wedding of Maddie’s sister Rachel (Natasha Rothwell), which is absolutely a good thing!
Almost all of this sequence (which is not truncated at all, again a good thing) is truly entertaining and often pretty funny. But because Sonic is not involved they can’t just hold on to any scene for too long before cutting back to him and Tails on their wacky adventure. The filmmakers feel the need to balance the film so that the kids won’t lose focus while also trying to appease the parents.
You may think I am being harsh but it is only because there are so many excellent children’s movies that do this successfully. And here lies the major stumbling block Sonic the Hedgehog 2 is facing. We are in a golden era for not only animated films but for children’s films as well. Just in the last two years, we had The Mitchells versus the Machines, Encanto, Raya and the Last Dragon, Wolfwalkers, Luca, Soul etc. These are all exceptionally good movies that are primarily aimed at children but do not explicitly aim their humour at them. These films can cover deep topics (which for clarity is not something Sonic 2 is trying to do) and can be funny and heartfelt; all while entertaining adults and children equally for the entire duration.
Due to these many excellent movies, when a film that has no explicitly discerning qualities comes along, it seems worse than it is. Sonic the Hedgehog 2 is not a bad movie by most metrics, but it does not stand alongside many of the excellent children’s movies of recent years and therefore seems lesser by comparison.