Reviewed by: Alexander Malsan
Value of friendship
Movies based on video games
Robots and robotic drones
James Marsden … Tom “Donut Lord” Wachowski
Jim Carrey … Dr. Ivo Robotnik
Ben Schwartz … Sonic the Hedgehog (voice)—an anthropomorphic blue hedgehog from another dimension
Tika Sumpter … Maddie Wachowski—Tom’s wife
Adam Pally … Billy Robb—a police officer
Neal McDonough … Major Bennington
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Marza Animation Planet [Japan]
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Paramount Pictures Corporation, a subsidiary Viacom
Sonic has lived most of his life on his own, isolated and unbeknownst to the inhabitants of Green Hills, Montana. Sonic is a hedgehog with a remarkable power, the ability to travel up to speeds of hundreds of miles per hour. Now, Sonic is no ordinary hedgehog. He actually came from an entirely different planet and lived with a hawk named Longclaw. Unfortunately, there were those, even on Sonic’s home planet, that sought to take control of Sonic’s super speed power and would stop at nothing to catch him. And so, before Sonic could even say goodbye to Longclaw, Sonic, through his magical golden rings, was sent to Green Hills.
For the past 10 years, he has been casually observing, spying, and perhaps messing around with the people of Green Hills, without being seen. Sonic was warned, prior to leaving his planet, that if he were ever spotted in Green Hills, he was to use his golden rings to depart for another planet where no one would ever find him: a planet of mushrooms. But now everything is about to change for Sonic…
One night, as he is having some fun at a baseball field, he accidentally causes a massive power outage across the entire Pacific Northwest region of the United States. “A minor mistake, perhaps no one noticed?” says Sonic. Oh, they noticed! Now the U.S. Government is on the lookout for this mysterious creature that caused the outage and has even gone so far as to enlist the help of the crazed, eccentric Dr. Robotnik (played by the very talented Jim Carrey).
Sonic’s got another problem, too. While snooping on the local sheriff, Tom Wachowski (James Marsden), he is shot with a tranquilizer as he is trying to escape to another planet. As he attempts his planetary escape, instead of imagining the mushroom planet, he imagines the city of San Francisco, and he accidentally drops the rest of his golden rings through the Golden Ring portal into San Francisco.
Sonic must make it to San Francisco, retrieve his Golden Rings with Sheriff Tom, all while avoiding the eyes of the U.S. Government and the evil Dr. Robotnik.
Go Sonic, go!
Movie adaptations of video game franchises are almost always a hit or miss in the moviemaking industry. Critics are usually not very kind to these type of films, and truthfully, having seen a few of them myself, I can understand why. For starters, with many of these video-game-to-film adaptations, so much of the focus is on recreating the action that was found in the game, and not on the actual plot or character development, which may cause you ask to yourself, “Couldn’t I have spared myself the price of admission and simply played the video game myself?” The number of films that fall under this category are endless: “The Resident Evil” film franchise, the film “Hitman,” “Need for Speed” (which I myself reviewed), etc.
“Sonic the Hedgehog,” I feel, is that rare exception, like “Detective Pikachu” was last year. In my opinion, “Sonic” has found a good balance between action, plot development and a sense of pacing, while genuinely touching upon issues of loneliness, acceptance, importance and self-sacrifice. As I’ve stated before, many years ago, I thought the time for strong morals and children’s films had passed, but now with films like “Detective Pikachu,” “The Grinch (2018)” and “Wreck it Ralph 2,” I feel that Hollywood might be coming to the realization that families want wholesome lessons in their films, while avoiding filthy and degrading humor (or at least large quantities of it).
Additionally, “Sonic the Hedgehog” has some terrific performances from an all star cast. Ben Schwartz provides a balanced, humorous portrayal of the iconic yet lovable Sonic that had me dealing with a range of emotions throughout the film (from laughter to heartache). James Marsden fit right into his role as Sheriff Tom Wachowski, playing up the laughs alongside Schwartz’s portrayal. But the real star, even though this is Sonic’s movie, is Jim Carrey, as Dr. Robotnik. You can tell he was having the time of his life and that the people alongside him (his henchmen co-stars) were trying their hardest not to break character and laugh alongside Carrey.
Violence: Moderately Heavy. The violence in the film is never graphic or heavy in nature; much of it feels cartoonish or video-game-like in nature. However, there is some content worth mentioning. Robots shoot at Tom and Sonic destroying a home. Dr. Robotnik tells a story about how he made a bully end up having t eat through a straw for the rest of his life. A bar fight occurs (moderately long). A spear goes through a car. A tank flips over. A bomb blows up and knocks out Sonic. A couple falls off a roof. Sonic is pursued by a flying robot controlled by Dr. Robotnik. Sonic’s caretaker, Longclaw, is shot in the wing with an arrow (we don’t see what happens to her). Sonic is shot with a tranquilizer . Dr. Robotnik is punched in the face (once).
Profanity: Moderate— • “Oh my G*d” (5) • “G*d” (1) • sacré bleu (a minced form of the French profanity sacré dieu, equivalent to “holy God” / bleu (blue) rhymes with dieu) • h*lla • jeez (a euphemism for “Jesus”) • H*ll (2) • “What the heck” (a euphemistic replacement for “Hell”)
Vulgarity: Mild to Moderate— • “son of a…” (cut off) • s*cks (1) • fart(s) • “freaks” • “what the…” • “egg sacks” (2) • “butt” • “probed” • “breastfed” • “colonoscopy” • and some insults said by Dr. Robotnik to various characters (such “reading at a third grade level”) • a song’s lyrics include “And now it seems to be, That every time I look at you, Evil grows in me.”
Other: A character makes fart sounds with their armpits.
Alcohol: A bar fight takes place, well, at a bar where people are seen drinking beforehand.
Sonic’s feeling of loneliness in the film truly touched me, as a Christian and as a person. It’s not often, but there are times when things get tough, where it’s easy to let the Enemy trick me into thinking that I’m alone, that God doesn’t care anymore.
But then God gets my attention, like He always does. He snaps me out of it and reminds me I am loved by Him. He reminds me I am chosen by Him for His purpose and to:
“Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the LORD your God goes with you; he will never leave you or forsake you” —Deuteronomy 31: 6
“Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” —Isaiah 41:10
And my favorite Scripture that I keep in the forefront of my mind:
“Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? As it is written:
‘For your sake we face death all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.’
No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” —Romans 8:35-39 NIV
I don’t remember walking out of a film and having as much fun with a children’s movie as I did last night after watching “Sonic.” Honestly, there is something for everyone to enjoy, adults included. I had a blast watching Ben Schwartz in his role of Sonic and Jim Carrey gives a stellar career-changing performance that reminded me so much of Carrey’s performances in “The Mask” and in “How the Grinch Stole Christmas.”
Be forewarned, Carrey’s humor can be a bit crass at times and may warrant some caution, so parents you may want to take this into consideration before taking children younger than 12 to this film. There is also some moderately heavy amounts of violence to contend with as well. However, there are some strong redemptive themes that surpass some of this. As always, discretion is advised.
See list of Relevant Issues—questions-and-answers.