March 20, 2023

Film Review – Sonic The Hedgehog 2 (2022)


Sequels are a hard business. Extremely hard. Anyone who has had success, whether surprisingly or unsurprisingly, will know that the pressure and imperative to then try to follow up is unyielding, especially when the majority of sequels failed to live up to expectations.. For the filmmakers and creatives behind Sonic The Hedgehog, one of 2020’s last big box-office successes before the pandemic spread worldwide weeks later, they have the doubly hard task of producing not just a sequel but one that follows up a video-game adaptation, one of cinema’s most poisoned of chalices. Somehow, they managed it, but could (blue) lightning strike twice? 

Sonic (Ben Schwartz) is trying to make his mark on Earth as its newest superhero with mixed results. Hoping to be the hero the city needs, it isn’t long before Dr. Robotnik (Jim Carrey) uses his evil cunning to find a way back home from deep space and, secure his place as the greatest evil genius and find the elusive Green Emerald, he has brought Knuckles (Idris Elba) back with him, himself holding a life-long grudge against Sonic and his family. Needing help from his unofficial parents (James Marsden and Tika Sumpter) and new friend Tails (Colleen O’Shaughnessey), Sonic has to grow up quickly if he is really going to be the hero Green Hills deserves. 

Adapting video games in films, similarly to sequels, is a fool’s errand, and simply put the output has been supremely underwhelming, even embarrassing in some instances. The first big attempt – 1994’s ill-fated Super Mario Bros – set the stall for countless pretenders in the coming years with none really striking out until 2002’s Resident Evil, at least in box office terms. Indeed, when the early visuals of the cinematic version of Sonic first appeared, fans were in uproar causing a design change mere months before its release. Thankfully, it all worked out and the thought was that if you could get a Sonic film to work then you’d hit gold and that’s what director Jeff Fowler and his cohorts conceived in the first, but the sequel, surprisingly, manages to top it and become a unique anomaly like Neo in The Matrix in the best possible way.

Again drawing from the heart of the games – the adventure, the quest, the colour, and the sheer, unconfined joy that came from taking Sonic through its strange, diverse lands – Fowler and screenwriters Pat Casey, Josh Miller, and John Whittington have doubled-down in their ambitious sequel and, for the most part, have struck gold (rings). Sure, the story wobbles through its middle act and it isn’t exactly subtle, but that’s not the point. This is all about fun and, for any flaws it does have, you can’t deny just how much of a blast it is.  

Maybe for the first time ever, it feels like you’re playing the game whilst watching it in the best possible way: everything feels measured and assured with everyone now familiar with the footing they find themselves in, allowing for the excitement and energy that flows through it to be even more rewarding than before, as well as peppering it with so many nuggets of gameplay you’ll go giddy for. The additions of  Elba and O’Shaughnessey bring a new vitality whilst Schwartz continues to have a blast as “Blue Justice” but, as you might expect, it’s the cosmic tornado that is Jim Carrey who steals the film again with his preposterous, manic enthusiasm even more potent than before and elevates everything he touches even further into the realms of whimsy and adventure. And, right now, what could we need more?


Action, Adventure | 2022 | PG | Paramount Pictures | Dir: Jeff Fowler | Ben Schwartz, Jim Carrey, James Marsden, Tika Sumpter, Colleen O’Shaughnessey, Natasha Rothwell, Adam Pally, Shemar Moore, Idris Elba