2.5 stars out of 4
Here’s how fast Sonic the Hedgehog, the lightning-quick blue blur that Sega introduced to the video game world nearly 30 years ago: He’s so quick he can play a baseball game by himself.
He’s so quick that he can pitch, pick up a bat, hit the ball and field the ball – all while running around the bases. He’s a one-man show, very much a kid looking to be part of something bigger, yet in a game meant to be played on a team of nine, he’s alone.
He has no friends, finding his joy in comic books and toys as he whizzes around the streets and forests of tiny Green Hills, Montana, where’s he’s been forced to live in isolation for a decade since his enemies in his far-away planet would stop at nothing to capture him and steal his ability to run faster than anyone in the world.
“Sonic the Hedgehog,” a live-action movie based on the insanely popular video game that is to millennials what Pac-Man is to Generation Xers, is about an outsider’s quest to find friendship and belonging.
Sonic is lonely because he was told by his guardian owl before he was sent to earth to never draw attention to himself, which is why he pretends to be part of people’s lives who don’t know he exists. Local sheriff Tom Wachowski (James Marsden) and his wife Maddie (Tika Sumpter) spend their nights watching TV, while Sonic peers at the screen from outside the window, hoping one day he’ll be watching next to them on the couch.
One night, he gets so overcome with emotion that he runs around a baseball diamond so fast that he creates a cosmic wave of energy that causes a citywide blackout that gets the government’s attention.
The Pentagon decides to put a brilliant, but unpredictable scientist on the case: Dr. Robotnik, played exceptionally well by Jim Carrey, who hasn’t been this funny since his 1990s heyday. He becomes consumed with trapping this mysterious “blue devil” and enlists the help with a bunch of attack drones and his henchman, played by Lee Majdoub.
Dr. Robotnik’s pursuit forces Sonic, the movie’s sole CGI-ified star and voiced by Ben Schwartz, is forced to reveal his identity to Tom, who decides to accompany Sonic on a road trip to the Transamerica Pyramid to find Sonic’s precious rings that he lost just before being transported to earth. If you’ve played Sonic the video game, you know the importance of his magical rings.
What transpires during the second-half of the movie is the kind of slapstick comedy and hijinks that you would expect in children’s movie about a fun-loving spiky-haired animal that looks very much as he did when debut on the Sega Genesis when the first Bush was in the Oval Office.
“Sonic the Hedgehog” mirrors the video game. Director Jeff Fowler and screenwriters Patrick Casey and Josh Miller present a fast moving and straight forward film. It moves quickly from one thing to next. Sonic’s movements stay true to the video game, as he inflicts damage by jumping on top of things, though not as much in the movie as in the video game.
In the end, everything leads to an ultimate fight between Sonic and Dr. Robotnik, a showdown between Sonic’s natural speed against Robotnik’s technologically advanced weaponry.
Probably a sequel – or three.
Jon Gallo is an award-winning journalist and editor with 19 years of experience, including stints as a staff writer at The Washington Post and sports editor at The Baltimore Examiner. He also believes the government should declare federal holidays in honor of the following: the Round of 64 of the NCAA men’s basketball tournament; the Friday of the Sweet 16; the Monday after the Super Bowl; and of course, the day after the release of the latest Madden NFL video game.