Sonic the Hedgehog 2 [Grade: 83.3%]

Director: Jeff Fowler

Story By: Pat Casey, Josh Miller, & John Whittington

Cast: Ben Schwartz, Idris Elba, Colleen O’Shaughnessey, Jim Carrey, James Marsden, Tika Sumpter, Lee Majdoub, Natasha Rothwell, Adam Pally, and Shemar Moore. 

* * *

It’s not a “bad” film, but the first one still reigns supreme for me…

* * *

Theme & Story: B

Pacing: A-

Character: C

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Entertainment Factors

General Public: Wait for Streaming

Film Enthusiasts: Don’t Watch

Experience Seekers (via Visuals & Score): Don’t Rush

Action Adventure Fans: Wait for Streaming

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TAKEAWAYS:

1. Sonic finds himself caught in an unexpected quest to find and protect a powerful gem from the hands of Dr. Robotnik and another “universe terrestrial” in order to save the world. 

This is the Sonic the Hedgehog 2. 

Thematically, there’s two directions the story attempts to tackle—1. the topic of teamwork / the power of having a team / understanding the makeup and what it means to be a team; and 2. understanding the place, time, and need to be a hero. 

In all honesty, the followthrough of story and theme was a little hit and miss for me. 

In Act One the story focuses on Sonic seemingly trying to juggle the life of a “hero” and his life as part of a family, feeling as if his purpose for having his powers and being on earth is to protect the city. Cool. I did notice some implication of Sonic having this belief to be taking a toll on his energy because he’s “trying to do it all,” but it wasn’t enough to really grasp for purpose with the teamwork component of the theme.  

There’s also the motivation for Dr. Robotnik and Knuckles that add a little more continuity to the story and need for a “hero” due to being the primary conflict. Great. Additionally, in contrast to Sonic and Tails, I was able to recognize the subtle connection to the “teamwork” aspect. Cool. 

Act Two was pretty safe in regards to carrying out the story, but a little messy thematically. Visually, the idea of “teamwork/working as a team” was obvious, but there lacked tension and depth to the idea of “a team” that made it feel like happenstance with the overall story—like, “of course Dr. Robotnik needs Knuckles and vice versa…how else will the plot move?” Or “Of course, Tails is gonna be with Sonic along the way…he did randomly show up, and it’s not like Sonic is a jerk…” Then there was random dialogue about friendships and bonds/pacts that I saw as an attempt to try to make the “team” aspect of the theme “fetch”… forcefully. It just didn’t work for me. ESPECIALLY when Tom randomly brings up his wish for Sonic after observing a group of friends. It just felt oddly placed for me. BUT… the quest was still intact. 

Act Three is possibly the strongest with theme and story working together—the powerful gem is actively part of the story, and all key characters are now in a situation where they must interact with one another in response to the gem. It’s a pretty typical, well planned Act Three, however I feel a large part as to why this Act also worked so well is because of Knuckles. 🫤

2. YEESSS Shemar! 😍

3. What is up with the editing? The phone call between Sonic and Tom seemed out of order (like, Sonic already knew when you got there…), and then there was a moment where Tails had his backpack and then didn’t have his backpack within a 3-5 second frame. 🤦🏾‍♂️

4. I am on the fence about Knuckles’ character portrayal… especially in Act 3 vs the other Acts. Is he aware of certain American things or not? Can he use complete sentences or not? It was just so inconsistent. 🥴

5. With a runtime of over 112 minutes, Sonic 2 is still paced with the charm and fast fun of its predecessor. I was in a theater with quite a few families with toddlers, and some teenagers, and everyone seemed glued and engaged—some man even found himself talking at the screen at one moment. Now… on the flip side, I must admit there were a few moments with the wedding scenes where I did find my eyes wanting to get a little heavy… Parts of these scenes definitely had too much screen time, and it might have been an attempt to give the adults something to engage with?? Not sure, but didn’t work for me… 🤷🏾‍♂️

6. I just have to say it again… there was WAY too much screen time at that damn wedding… 🤦🏾‍♂️🤦🏾‍♂️👎🏾

7. Gold Sonic! 🙌🏾🙌🏾

8. That ring moment… very predictable. 🤷🏾‍♂️

9. I have to be honest… I wasn’t as drawn to the characters this time around as I was with the first installment. Tails was cute, but I don’t think was thought out well enough. Instead I saw a “brown nosing” and “clinginess.” Tails didn’t really bring much to the “team” aspect of the theme until Act Three (by happenstance), and was clearly a prop used to push the “hero” aspect of the theme through the brown nosing.

Sonic was Sonic… but it was as if the writing team didn’t quite know how to use him in his own sequel. I mean, even the first few minutes after Tom and Maddie leave just felt like random “cute” deadspace. He had no major issues, his connection to wanting/needing a team wasn’t really solidified, and him learning about what it means to be hero wasn’t put in a situation to be unpacked and addressed. He was just cute, and did what he was expected to do in the end. 

With Dr. Robotnik, but something felt odd…lost in translation…and a little forced about his motivation with becoming this power hungry character and need to “kill.” Thematically, the forced characterization helped to drive the “hero” aspect pretty well, and Jim Carrey still delivered a strong performance. 

Everything with the humans outside of Dr. Robotnik felt like space/screen time fillers. Also, Agent Stone’s character was SO exaggerated when he didn’t need to be. 

Lastly, there’s Knuckles who’s character was actually the strongest with the theme for me. He struggled to need a team/want a team, he was a perceived villain who assumed he was actually doing a heroic thing for his people, struggled to understand and identify with Sonic vs Robotnik, and experienced change overtime. The film should’ve actually been focused on him, with Sonic being a deuteragonist.  🤷🏾‍♂️

10. Three of my favorite moments were the discovery of the gem/emerald, the final battle scene, and when Knuckles stops Sonic during his Spin Dash. 👍🏾

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Overall #SonicTheHedgehog2 gives I Am Number 4 – meets Raya and the Last Dragon – meets Deku and Bakugo – meets the Sonic video game. 

I went into the film with such excitement, and was actually a little underwhelmed. I think for our 13 and under crowd, it has enough charm and action sequences to be engaging and “cool,” but for me and my critical eye…it felt a little sloppy and lazy with the action and effects acting as the coverup. 

Personally, I think this film should’ve never centered Sonic. It should’ve centered Knuckles with Sonic as a deuteragonist, and this should actually be the case for every Sonic film moving forward until all the key characters have had their “origin story,” and then create a film where they all work together. There was just too many things attempting to be covered in this installment, like what is the rush? 

Also, stay for the post-credit scene. 

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