Poor old Sonic, despite his famed speed, he always seems to be one step behind his Italian counterpart, Mario. The plumber’s first appearance in a video game (or any medium) was as a foil to rampaging, barrel-wielding gorilla Donkey Kong in 1981, a clear ten years ahead of Sonic’s first outing in 1991. The first Mario Bros cartoon show hit small screens in 1989, while the blue hedgehog had to wait until 1993 to make his first appearance in animated form. The gap between the two movie-wise is even larger, with the infamously, cataclysmically messy Super Mario Bros making its way into cinemas 27 years before the rapid mammal has managed to catch up with his own feature-length offering.
Despite being a little late to the party, Sonic can at least claim to have kept artistic pace with Mario – in movie terms at the very least. It may have taken the better part of three decades, but the spiny Erinaceinae can now honestly claim that he has a movie every bit as disastrous as his Nintendo nemesis.
This came spinning into the collective consciousness due to a hellish trailer which boasted some of the foulest looking CGI committed to screens. Naturally, the internet lost its collective sanity over the sight of a character who looked less like the feature of so many childhoods spent playing on the Mega Drive and more like a feature of so many Coronavirus-fuelled hallucinatory nightmares. The dreadful-looking effects were duly patched up and the film’s release was pushed back to accommodate the change; a snappy trailer was released and all seemed to be well. Until lights went down.
A neat change to the Paramount ident at the beginning of this is about as creatively interesting as anything gets – the wooshing stars surrounding the mountain being replaced by rings. After that, it’s downhill to the depths of the Labyrinth Zone faster than Miles Prower.
The drably cogent narrative sees a young Sonic evicted from his homeland and wind up in Hicksville-upon-Bumtown, USA living in secret and spying on James Marsden’s pitifully earnest town sheriff. Sonic has a load of rings which allow to jump through portals when in danger and, when danger duly approaches, he accidentally loses them several hundred miles away in San Francisco. Rather than just run there at the speed of sound to retrieve them – WHICH HE COULD DO – he and Marsden (whom he has dragged along for the ride) take a road trip across the country to help Sonic find them. It’s a chance to let Sonic tick-off items on his dreary bucket list and gives the US-Government’s forces, led by Jim Carrey’s Dr Robotnik an excuse to pursue.
It should be a madcap, thrill-a-minute, Smokey and the Bandit meets an explosion in a neon light factory adventure, but it’s turgid, irritating and outstays its welcome within moments. Carrey is given precious chance to flex his comedic muscles- barring one delightfully odd scene in which he dances around a caravan – and the hedgehog himself is a depressing watch. The script, for reasons unknown, calls for him to act like a schizophrenic child, hopped up on too many energy drinks, constantly bleating to himself about everything and nothing until you begin to root for the bad guy. He is instantly annoying and fast becomes unbearable.
At least the Mario Bros movie had some spark of weirdness that keeps you aghast all the way through. This is chore to watch.
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Adventure, Family | USA, 2020 | 14th February 2020 (UK) | Paramount Pictures | Dir.Jeff Fowler | Jim Carrey, Ben Schwartz, James Marsden, Tika Sumpter, Neal McDonough