MPAA Rating: PG/ Genre: Sci-Fi Action-Adventure Comedy/Stars: Jim Carrey, James Marsden, Tika Sumpter, Natasha Rothwell, Adam Pally, Shemar Moore, Lee Majdoub, Tom Butler, Elfina Luk, Melody Nosipho Niemann; Voices of: Ben Schwartz, Colleen O’Shaughnessey, Idris Elba, Donna Jay Fulks/Runtime: 122 minutes
I think it is safe to say that in the world there are some properties that one of the key defining characteristics is a pretty passionate fan base. Yet while it is no surprise to see Marvel, DC, Doctor Who, and Star Wars on that list, it is a fair bit astonishing to see that much passion for a character from a franchise that is at least 30 years old. More than that however, who in their right mind would have viewed a cinematic adaptation of this character could have viewed as an absolute triumph at the box office? Indeed what may have seen like turbulent cinematic waters due mostly to how Sonic looked (shudder) initially managed to transform into triumphant sailing on a financial level for Paramount to say nothing of proving to be a potential wonderful franchise starter as well. Sure enough, word soon got out that Paramount was officially giving the greenlight to a sequel. Of course, along with the announcement of a sequel came the concern from the fan base that the creative minds in charge would be unable to make a follow-up that not only could be on the same level of quality as the first, but also propel the narrative onward if it so desired. Thankfully, fans of the first one and of the character can now breathe a sigh of relief. Indeed it may have its fair share of flaws, but overall Sonic the Hedgehog 2 is a riveting family-accessible slice of cinema that gives off the vibe of being authentic when it requires it whilst also being silly enough to keep the kids (and childish adults) engaged. Sure some comedic bits should have cut a bit and there are a few other blunders here and there, but by and large this is an engaging enough slice of cinema that manages to avoid being a complete and utter soulless cash grab and instead just a fun little movie period.
The plot is as follows: Set in the aftermath of the events of the first film, Sonic the Hedgehog 2 opens as we see that our distinct, super quick, and still very much blue hedgehog hero has managed to settle down in the town of Green Hills and has in the process also become a quasi-sorta adopted son to Tom and Maddie who love him immensely. Yet even with all of these positives still very much apparent in his life, we see that Sonic is still desperately trying to discover what he is meant to do with his life to say nothing of figuring out how best to utilize his super speedy skills to aid humanity. To that end, we see that Sonic has been sneaking away from home every night and moonlighting as a Batman rip-off known as Blue Justice who, despite his good intentions, causes more chaos than even the criminals he is pursuing. Yet when Tom and Maddie leave Sonic home alone for a few days so they can attend Maddie’s sister’s Hawaiian nuptials we see that things soon go from bad to worse. This is because whilst all of this is going on, we see that our favorite kooky mad scientist Dr. Robotnik is still stuck on the mushroom planet he was banished to at the end of the first film where he spends his day engaged in his favorite pastime. Namely figuring out best to get his vengeance against a certain blue hedgehog. However just when things look dire for the diabolical doc, we find that he is saved by a super strong red echidna known as Knuckles. We soon learn that Knuckles is trying to hunt down and locate a powerful giant emerald that, as luck would have it, happens to be located back on Earth. As a result, we see Robotnik decide to form a partnership of sorts with the creature to find a way back to Earth so they can locate the emerald and harness its vast power. Yet lest you think our speedy hero will have to take on this diabolical duo by himself you would be wrong. That’s because we see that he is soon joined by a new force for the good guys in the form of a two-tailed fox named Miles, but who goes by the *given to him by Captain Obvious* nickname of “Tails”. Thus it is up to our super pals to set off on an adventure to do what they can to keep the emerald from falling into these dastardly hands lest they wish world domination to shortly follow….
Now one thing that a lot of the genuinely great sequels in the land of movie magic have in common is that they can help remind you of what has come before in prior installments. In that respect, this slice of cinema is able to fulfill that prerequisite wonderfully as we see that our little blue speed demon (or as he calls himself Blue Justice) is constantly aspiring to achieve even grander heroics. Yet even as the perilous path he goes down in this film propels the narrative forward, it also has the effect of giving us an opportunity to learn more about Sonic’s past by taking a look back at what happened in the first film. Indeed much in the same vein as something like the Bourne movies that managed to take what came before and mash it together with things occurring in the latest installment, this slice of cinema follows suit as we see such things as Tails showing up on Earth at the end of the first movie expanded on. More than just past events however, we also see this movie make the creative choice to flesh out characters from the first one that might not have gotten their due especially with respect to the characters of Maddie Wachowski and her sister Rachel. Ultimately however, this second slice of cinema manages to do a wonderful job of being an effective bridge between both what came before and what is on the horizon. Indeed, without going into spoilers for this installment, just as things in the first installment came back for this one, there are more than a few seeds planted in this installment that the creative minds in charge could use for both the 3rd movie and the Knuckles spin-off series that are being worked on that are sure to make franchise die-hards giddy with glee and smiling from ear to ear.
Now while the first Sonic the Hedgehog cinematic adaptation did possess a fair bit of both winks and nods to say nothing of pre-established lore from the video game franchise the character originated in, it still very much required a rooting in reality. Thankfully by doing that the first time around, we see that this possessed the added benefit of giving this *now* franchise a solid foundation upon which this sequel could properly build off of. As a result, we see that this slice of cinema is able to further fleshing out the lore and characters without getting significantly bogged down…..at least in terms of the CGI animated characters. Indeed the inclusion in this slice of cinema of fan-loved character Knuckles (voiced pitch perfectly by Idris Elba even if he does sound similar to Heimdall from the MCU) gets the chance to bring this character into this cinematic franchise in a manner that feels both organic yet also wonderfully familiar for those of you who have played the games. The same can also be said for the character of Tails though I also would like to give this slice of cinema props on that character for a minute. Not because of how accurate he looks to the game character (because the same can most assuredly be said about Knuckles). Rather, it’s because this slice of cinema actually made the beautiful choice to have the character’s voice actress reprise her role in the film. A choice that incidentally works to this film’s benefit as O’Shaughnessy manages to bring the warmth, decency, and comedic timing to this character that fans of the games have been hoping would be carried over into this film franchise. As for the titular blue speed demon, I think it should be said that in his reprisal of the role Ben Schwartz does once again manage to nail the role quips and all. With that said however, it should be said that there are a few moments where the character does come across as a bit whiny and grating. No it’s not apparent throughout the entire movie thankfully, but don’t be surprised if there are some moments where you find yourself sighing and rolling your eyes in annoyance. As for the human characters this time around honestly most of them do seem a fair bit extraneous with one exception. That exception would be the returning Jim Carrey as Doctor Robotnik and once again he is a pure joy in the role. Indeed Carrey manages to do a wonderful job of utilizing all the facial tics and physical mannerisms that made him such a comedy icon in the first place to full brilliant effect here. The result is a performance that may be over the top and cartoonish to the hilt, but that is exactly what this slice of cinema needs it to be in order to succeed.
All in all *sigh* well I must be honest dear movie lovers I really really really (and did I mention really) did not want to sit down and see this slice of cinema in a theater all by myself. Of course, there are a few problems with that namely that this is my job and so I must at least make some kind of effort to see this movie and give it a fair assessment my sanity be darned. With that in mind, is the slice of cinema that is Sonic the Hedgehog 2 a genuinely great movie? Honestly no. At the same time is it the cinematic equivalent of the Hindenburg or Titanic disasters? Not even close (as much as some of us out there may have wished for it to be). Rather, this is one slice of cinema that is not that bad though I have no doubt that kids and avid fans of both the character and/or the video games will love this with all of their hearts and honestly that is perfectly ok. As for me, yes this slice of cinema’s runtime does tend to be a bit much at times and there may be a few other things I had a minor issue with, but the returning cast of humans (especially Jim Carrey who is absolute aces in this) and the main trinity of voice actors all do phenomenal work, and the work done behind the camera especially in terms of the visuals all do a terrific job at capturing both the look and feel of the iconic games thus making this a true delight in that respect. Indeed when looking at this slice of cinema from that angle, there is no doubt that Sonic the Hedgehog 2 manages to do a wonderful job of continuing in the speedy footsteps of its predecessor and raising the bar slightly higher than it was before in regards to anyone else in the land of movie magic actually wanting to make a genuinely good cinematic adaptation of a video game whilst also planting some very intriguing super speed seeds for a future installment to consider growing into fruition. Suffice it to say therefore that if you were among the group who had a blast with the little Blue Devil’s prior cinematic adventure you definitely owe it to yourself to go as fast as possible to your local multiplex and check this slice of cinema out. I promise that you most assuredly will not regret it. On a scale of 1-5 I give Sonic the Hedgehog 2 a solid 3.5 out of 5.