Sonic the Hedgehog 2 (2022)
Director: Jeff Fowler
Writers: Pat Casey, Josh Miller, and John Whittington
Starring: James Marsden, Ben Schwartz, Tika Sumpter, Natasha Rothwell, Adam Pally, Shemar Moore, Colleen O’Shaughnessey, Lee Majdoub, Idris Elba, and Jim Carrey
Review: Hi kids! Did you like the first Sonic the Hedgehog movie? If you’re answer’s yes, then I’ve got good news for you. You’ll probably like this one. If you answered no or not really, I’m sorry to tell you that this is absolutely more of the same. Seriously, you could almost take my review from the previous movie, add a few little notes, and use it for this one. My feelings are almost identical. But, that would be lazy and unfair to all the work the movie makers put in, so let’s jump into it.
Ok, first of all, the two highlights of the movie. They’re exactly who you’d think they are; Ben Schwartz as Sonic and Jim Carrey as Robotnik. As I’ve said before, I think Ben Schwartz is absolutely the perfect pick to play Sonic. He’s got that mile-a-minute, goofy, random, lovable sense of humor that just works for the character. And, while I, personally, never viewed Sonic as a child, I did like his story arc about growing into a respectable hero in this one. Even if I could feel them holding back from saying “with great power, comes great responsibility.” While I seemingly will always have issues with these movies, I can honestly say that Sonic is not one of them. And neither is Jim Carrey. While a far cry from his more iconic/funnier roles, it is nice to see Carrey back to his goofier shenanigans. I will never turn down the chance to see him cut loose and you can tell he’s having a lot of fun here. He wouldn’t have necessarily been my first pick for Eggman, but he’s a brilliant addition and raises these movies up a notch single handedly. He’s a comedic legend. I hope this isn’t the last time we see him. But, between Carrey and Schwartz, I can honestly say they’ve got a pretty solid hero and antagonist. They both fit their roles quite well. And both got their fair share of chuckles out of me. Not every joke lands (one in four probably), but there are a couple of solid ones thrown in there. Plus, this one throws in a Parks and Rec reference, so that automatically makes me like it a tad more.
And, frankly, I liked the two newcomers, Tails and Knuckles, quite a bit too. Tails has always been my favorite Sonic character. There’s just something about him that makes me smile. He’s adorable with his squeaky voice, two tails, and innocent attitude. Overall, I think they did a terrific job brining this character to life. It was a very smart idea to bring the original voice back, because I don’t know that any celebrity would’ve quite nailed it the way she does. I was definitely pleased to see such a good interpretation brought to the big screen. However, I was a bit more mixed on Knuckles. To be fair, I’ve never cared for the character much. The “tough guy” has never been my favorite character trope. But, they do a little bit of the Drax thing with him, having him never quite understand jokes and/or human customs. And… it’s fine. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t laugh a time or two. However, I will say that Idris Elba sounded extremely bored by the whole thing. Like, it was just a paycheck. I’ve seen him do the monotone thing before with Heimdall, but even that performance felt more lively. I don’t know. Maybe it was a choice, but, to me, it felt like he just didn’t want anything to do with this role. Let’s just say I felt a tad more effort in Cats. Freaking Cats. But still, overall, not bad additions to the team.
So, Sonic is good. Robotnik is good. Tails and Knuckles are good. That makes this a good Sonic movie, right? Man, I wish. But, my biggest problem with the first one is absolutely on display once again here: the humans. Honestly, I was pretty excited for this movie. We saw a goofy planet of mushrooms at the end of the first one. The trailers barely featured James Marsden. But, they did show us all kinds of exotic locales. I thought for sure we were moving away from our human world and deeper into the world of Sonic. Boy, was I wrong. Because all of those human characters who were just there in the first one play bigger parts here. Every single one of them. Sonic’s family? Oh yeah. Lots more screen time. That sister character who made you chuckle once or twice? Whole extended action sequence. Random henchman and random cop who add absolutely nothing to the plot? You bet we’re going to cut to them several times. I’m not even exaggerating when I say there’s a moment in the middle of this movie where Sonic isn’t on screen for at least ten minutes, but it feels closer to half an hour. Worse yet, none of these sequences are especially funny or interesting or necessary to the plot. They’re just there. I was absolutely flabbergasted. Who is this for? Who asked for this? I think these movies would be infinitely better if they stopped going for the “fish out of water” cliches and just leaned all the way in to their gaming roots. Let’s make the next one feature no human characters at all (Robotnik doesn’t count). I know CGI creatures are expensive but I promise it’ll be worth it. I can almost guarantee you it’ll at least be a better movie.
Overall, I’d say that Sonic 2 is fine. It’s a mostly fun, harmless children’s movie with Ben Schwartz, Idris Elba, and Jim Carrey being whacky. There are definitely worse things you could spend two hours on. However, I wouldn’t say that you need to rush and see it either. Because it’s definitely not great. Maybe someday this series will be. We’ll see. It’s not there yet though.
TL;DR: Sonic the Hedgehog 2 brings back all of the stuff from the first one that works (Sonic and Robotnik), but also shines a massive spotlight on the stuff that doesn’t (the human characters). All of which makes it a remarkably familiar experience.
Score: 6/10 (Ok)
And, if you’re wondering, I would retroactively go back and give the first a 6 as well.