Twice the Genesis, Twice the Blast Processing
April 11th, 2022
Sonic the Hedgehog 2 is one of the best sequels of all time, in video games. The first movie is as beloved as any 3D entry in the series: Some like it and others shun it like an unwanted child (the fanbase is that unpredictable). This sequel attempts to correct the flaws from the original with more content from the series and less focus on the humans. Does it succeed or is it a rotten chili dog?
Dr. Robotnik (Jim Carrey) returns to Earth with a new ally, Knuckles the Echidna (Idris Elba). They want revenge on Sonic (Ben Schwartz) who’s enjoying some alone time without Tom and Maddie Wachowski (James Marsden and Tika Supter). Along for the ride is the two-tailed flying fox, Miles “Tails” Prower (Colleen O’Shaughnessey).
Right off the bat, this kicks everything into high gear. It still takes place in the real world like the Adventure titles, but it incorporates the locations, personalities and technologies for both the heroes and villains. Judging by the spotlight on Knuckles, this doesn’t follow the games in chronological order. But that’s okay because it weaves an interesting, action-packed narrative around the content. The hedgehog is cocky after his victory in the first movie, and Tails’ innocence brings him down a peg even if their bonding is rushed. Idris Elba as Knuckles brilliantly pulls off being an intimidating, clueless, klutz who takes everything seriously to the point where he could audition for the Guardians of the Galaxy. But with all this lore, the exposition dumps pop up like a gopher in a garden. To its credit, they’re both shown and told to the audience through flashbacks compared to other movies, but it pumps the brakes on the adrenaline chases. The first film was more simplistic and straight forward, and thus didn’t have this problem. And as cool as the final battle is, it leads to a Deus ex machina in an otherwise satisfying climax. However, since it’s structured like a Marvel movie, one wonders if there’s a Super Smash Brothers film in the far future, so long as there are no generic human characters.
Speaking of which, one surprising criticism is the shift away from the humans to the leading animals. Because a movie titled Sonic the Hedgehog should focus on generic blank slates? Especially after people complained about the opposite in the first movie? How many live-action cartoon adaptations are cursed with helping humans int he real world? One too many.
These human characters are improved, whether as dance competitors or wedding guests. They don’t take up much screen time, they support the main leads, and when they do get their own scenes, they’re hilarious. It’s the perfect balance that so many live-action cartoon adaptations failed to pull off since the 1980’s. Of course, the best human characters are Jim Carrey as Dr. Robotnik and Lee Majdoub as Agent Stone. Majodoub nails the loyal second in command that may or may not have a Waylon Smithers crush on his boss. Meanwhile, Carrey is just as animated as his computer-generated opposition, more insane from living on the mushroom planet, and he actually looks like the character minus a couple hundred pounds. With talks of his retirement, he should stick around one more time so he can go out on possibly the definitive video game movie trilogy.
Sonic the Hedgehog 2 is every Sonic fan’s dream come true. Is it corny? Yes. Do the human characters get in the way? Sometimes. But it takes every advantage of the franchise and correctly adapts it into a movie. Even its mid credit teaser is warranted unlike other video game movies that don’t show their loyalty until the last ten seconds. However, I’ve played the games since the Genesis era so I can’t speak for general movie goers. But if you can tolerate Sonic fans cheering whenever a reference pops up, this should be fun for the whole family. Once again, Sega does what Nintendon’t.