2020’s Sonic the Hedgehog broke new ground for films adapted from video games. Not only was it a good video game movie, but it proved that there’s an interest in movies like it. Now in 2022, Paramount Pictures went all-in to bring the speedy blue hedgehog to the big screen once again. Sonic the Hedgehog 2 takes much more inspiration from the source material, but is it another hit for the gaming icon? Let’s speed forth to discover if it soars as high as Tails or crash to the ground like one of Eggman’s destroyed robots.
This article contains spoilers for Sonic the Hedgehog 2.
Sonic the Hedgehog 2 is a genuinely hilarious movie filled with humor for both younger and older audiences (without ever feeling inappropriate for those younger folks). There are plenty of jokes about modern dance moves and passing gas, but there are some wittier ones about in-laws or how to properly de-escalate a crime in progress, along with fantastic slapstick. Knuckles surprisingly adds a lot of extra humor to the film by being overly serious in silly situations or still acting like a fearsome warrior so much that he doesn’t even understand his surroundings. This is easily one of the funniest movies to come out in recent years.
One of the stand-out elements of the movie is how unexpectedly heartfelt it is. Sonic and Tails bonding leads to some especially touching moments. Tom and Maddie falling into parental roles for Sonic is wholesome enough to bring a tear to any moviegoer’s eye. There’s also a subplot about Tom being concerned that Sonic doesn’t really have friends and is lonely. When he finally finds those friends that help him feel like he belongs, it’s a genuinely moving moment. Who knew an action-comedy about a super fast alien hedgehog could get so emotional?
Another element that adds to that emotion is the development that characters get throughout the story. Sonic, who thinks he’s a hero but mostly does more damage than good, learns what being a real hero means. In the beginning, it’s mostly about his ego. Later, he learns to actually help people and how to do so properly. Tails initially thinks that he’s not much of a hero and can’t do much to help, but then steps up and fights alongside Sonic and Knuckles using his own strengths. Knuckles learns which choices are the right ones to make. Seeing these characters’ arcs receive actual payoff is quite satisfying. Every win they get truly feels justified.
Of course, this is a superhero-esque film based on an action-platforming video game series, and the action is nothing short of exciting. Sonic’s speed, Tails’ flight and gadgets, and Knuckles’ strength are all used brilliantly throughout. Adding Robotnik’s robot army and giant mech into the fray makes things even more riveting. It feels like there’s more danger and unpredictability this time around. Even characters like Maddie and Rachel get in on the action. All the action leads to quite a lot of suspense, captivating visuals, and humorous visual gags.
It’s no secret that modern blockbusters adapted from source material are chock full of fan-service. Some films rely on it too much and even have it interrupt the plot of the movie. Sonic the Hedgehog 2, though, is the perfect example of fan-service done right. There are a ton of Easter eggs and references to the video games throughout the move; some of which are subtle while others are incredibly obvious. This ranges from a location exactly matching a level from the original game, to an abbreviation of a fan-favorite game being written as a coe on the side of a helicopter, to a character’s ringtone being the original video game music, and much, much more. I’m not listing all of the references here to avoid unnecessary spoilers and because listing them all would be a full, lengthy article itself. So much being pulled from or being used to reference the source material is definitely worth fans’ over-the-top excitement. That being said, you won’t feel lost if you’re unfamiliar with the source material. Everything still makes perfect sense, and anything that requires any amount of exposition gets enough of it. They’ve found a perfect blend of giving die-hard fans something to geek out over while providing new or casual audiences with an easy story to still follow.
This is a sequel that builds on what the first one sets up quite nicely. There are some minor plot elements in the first film that aren’t touched on a whole lot, but they’re actually explored here. There’s even some payoff for those who wanted to see more of those plot threads. This movie plays around with what was already set up, but still manages to mostly feel like a standalone story, which is a difficult feat. Not only that, but it even improves on many elements from the first film. For instance, Rachel is no longer a one-note character who has hatred toward Tom for no reason. Now, she’s funny, relatable, and kind of a badass. They took a character who was annoying in the first movie and made her rather entertaining in this latest installment. This sequel’s plot is also much more than a runofthemill road trip movie like the first one was, which is a huge relief.
Once again, Jim Carrey’s Robotnik/Eggman steals the show. His over-the-top performance is an absolute joy to experience. That being said, the rest of the cast prove that they can keep up and be just as talented. James Marsden, Tika Sumpter, Shemar Moore and the rest of the cast give impressive performances, which can be especially difficult when interacting with characters who aren’t actually there. The voice actors for Sonic, Tails, and Knuckles are the true stars, though. Ben Schwartz is yet again fantastic as the snarky and sarcastic blue hedgehog. In an amazing decision, Tails is voiced by Colleen O’’Shaughnessey who voices him in the video games. She passionately brings the character to life on the big screen and makes it clear that she has a bond with the role. Idris Elba as Knuckles steals much of the film’s spotlight, but it’s justified. His voice matches the character’s personality well. It must be insanely difficult to be so serious that it’s funny, but he managed to pull it off.
Three of the main characters are CGI talking animals and there are plenty of robots and explosions. The special effects need to be great for a movie like this, and thankfully they are. The CGI characters actually feel like they are there. The robots, explosions, lightnight, and vehicles being destroyed are all just as convincing. Things may look cartoony at times, but it matches the source material and the tone they are going for very well.
There’s a pretty long moment in the movie when the story is completely interrupted by a subplot involving the non-video game human characters. It’s not a bad scene by any means. In fact, it’s still quite entertaining and does eventually prove important to the main plot in some ways, but it takes up a good portion of the movie and distracts from what audiences came for. It ultimately feels a little too out of place.
There are also a couple of scenes, which are pretty fun as is, could have been shorter or handled differently to make room for the actual adventure the characters are on. It’s definitely entertaining to see Sonic and Tails get into a dance battle in a tavern, but they’re on an important mission. This scene, and a couple others like it, could have been much shorter so screen time could have been used for more important things. I wouldn’t take these scenes out, though, where they are fun and do lead to great bonding moments.
While the CGI and effects are mostly impressive, there is a moment or two when a CGI character interacts with live action environments or objects in some odd ways. It doesn’t look terrible, but it’s enough to be immersion-breaking a couple times during the movie. It’s also worth mentioning that the Master Emerald totally changes sizes to match whoever happens to be holding it in a given moment, and it does not seem intentional.
Sonic the Hedgehog 2 may not be a perfect film, but it’s goofy fun with a lot of heart, riveting action, and plenty of references for fans of the source material. The first movie was fine, but this one feels like a true love letter to the video games. I spent most of my time watching the movie with a dorky smile on my face. There are some moments so exciting that an audience member a few seats down the row from me in the theater was double fist-pumping. It sounds silly, but it speaks volumes to how entertaining of a movie this is. It’s easily the best video game-adapted movie ever. It’s also a great family film, which we don’t see a whole lot of nowadays. It’ll certainly be exciting to witness this franchise grow as it further embraces its video game lore while creating new and fantastic stories for these beloved characters.