It brings me great joy to know that somehow the Sonic the Hedgehog franchise continues to be the best video game movies out there. Yes, it is a low bar of a genre, but this second installment is not only one of the best video game adaptations it is also movie franchises done right. The first film in 2020 was your typical road trip alien on the run film. Thankfully though director Jeff Fowler and crew assembled a top notch cast to elevate it past typical family films. Ben Schwartz was dynamite as Sonic, James Marsden and Tika Sumpter brought good heartedness to the film and of courser Jim Carrey’s Dr. Robotnik was on a whole other level. So, when the inevitable sequel came along things obviously had to go bigger, but it still didn’t lose focus on the absurd antics and heart that made the first one work so well. If Sonic continues running on this path, he has the chance of creating the first great family film franchise in a long time.
Sonic (voiced by Ben Schwartz) has gotten a little restless. After being welcomed into a new family by Tom (James Marsden) and Maddie (Tika Sumpter) Sonic still feels he can be a bigger hero to the world than just what is in store for him in Green Hills Montana. His solution is too moonlight as a vigilante but ends up destroying an entire area of Seattle. To Make matters worse his arch enemy Dr. Robotnik (Jim Carrey going for it all) has found his way off the mushroom planet with the help of another enemy names Knuckles (voiced by Idris Elba). For those unfamiliar with the Sega games these films are based upon Knuckles is the last of the Echidna a group of warriors sworn to protect the Master Emerald (the same emerald Sonic’s leader Longclaw sacrificed herself to protect). It isn’t long until these power forces meet and while Sonic may have met his match here comes Tails (voiced by original voice actress Colleen O’Shaughnessey) a twin-tailed flying fox to save him. This is a sequel so a lot is thrown at you, and it may even seem overwhelming for kids, but it is in its overabundance that I feel the film is able to have its most fun. After a few initial scenes of everyone together the film, like most sequels, separates the group. Tom and Sonic are not together as much but they both learn to grow in other (mostly humorous) fashions. An extended sequence in Hawaii involving Maddie (Tika Sumpter) and her sister Rachel (a hysterical Natasha Rothwell) is just pure goofy chaos that may feel out of place but shows that Fowler is up to the task of also creating an all out comedy with his film. It also helps that this was proceeded by an intense snowboarding chase sequence down the Siberian mountains. This is a film that gets to have the best of both worlds.
If a hero is only as strong as its villain than Sonic has been given the best that there can be. Jim Carrey’s Dr. Robotonik is an encapsulation of all of his filmography put into one no holds back performance. Also, back in Robotnik’s life is Agent Stone (Lee Majdoub) and to see a sort of love triangle between Stone, Robotnik and Knuckles play shows that the villains in this franchise get to have just as much fun as the little speedster. Idris Elba may be known for having one of the most hard hitting voices and as Knuckles he is allowed to be both warrior and imbecile. Knuckles is given many fish out of water scenarios involving trying to learn how to read a test message as well as completely misunderstanding the purpose of hitting a home run (a moment that got the biggest laugh out of this critic).
Much like other franchises these films know where they want to go. Thankfully the world building for this film comes early on and the rest is saved for the obligatory mid credit scene. Everything else is a focus on what is happening now. Sure, there are some fun easter eggs, but every new character that is introduced is fully fleshed and doesn’t just serve as a cameo for things to come later. It is the type of hollywood filmmaking where you know there will be tons of more to come, but it also could all end here nice and neat. Sonic the Hedgehog 2 isn’t without its faults, there are a few far too many pop culture references, some that feel way too off for any kid today (a Limp Bizkit reference out of nowhere) and it will be interesting to see how the runtime works with others since yes, it is quite long for a kid’s movie and some moments feel to wrap things up just for another incident to occur. Sonic himself is still a blast to watch he is the little kid inside of all of us. The version we want to be, someone trying to better themselves while still enjoying the party. Through all the mayhem and speeding through life the film is a nice reminder to eventually learn to slow things down and enjoy your time with family of any kind. It may take time to get used to everyone, but it is always worth it in the end.
SONIC THE HEDGEHOG 2 will be released in theaters April 8