As Sonic the Hedgehog 2 has been released in cinema, I decided to give the films a go. The series has been extremely well received, and I can see why, but as a lifelong Sonic fan, I was disappointed.
My main qualm with the films is simply that I don’t feel as though Sonic, a blue talking hedgehog, belongs in the real world. At the beginning of the first film, there is a fleeting moment where we see Sonic in Green Hill, the beautiful island from the original video game series. I was very impressed with how the games’ Green Hill Zone was brought to life in the film as the flourishing, nature-filled island in which Sonic grew up in. However, this was short-lived, as Sonic is quickly transported into Green Hills, America – a much more dull and bleak setting in comparison. Of course, there are animated scenes within the Sonic video games where we see him running through the streets of San Francisco and more, but their cartoon-like appearance is what really gives them charm. There are so many amazing settings within the Sonic video games that would have brilliant potential for action to take place (i.e. Chemical Plant, Sky Sanctuary, Water Palace) but we simply don’t get to see this in the films. Why not keep Sonic within his own world? As the old saying goes ‘If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’.
Another issue I had was the lack of the characters we see within the video games making into the films. Sure, Tails, and Knuckles feature in the second film – but where are Shadow, Blaze the Cat, Amy Rose, Silver, and the others? What I would have loved to see is a film where Sonic teams up with his friends to defeat Dr Robotnik and his other enemies within their own world, rather than see him befriend human beings to defeat Dr Robotnik and to an extent, the government. I suppose what I believe the film lacked here was the element of escapism that is provided by the video games. Although Jim Carrey certainly portrays an excellent villain in his role as Dr Robotnik, I was mildly disappointed that his character bears little resemblance to the Dr Robotnik which fans are familiar with. However, I did thoroughly enjoy the characterisation of Sonic himself – his character acts and speaks exactly as you would have expected him to.
My experience watching the Sonic films ultimately left me with two questions. The first being why Sonic? As far as the plotline goes, it is quite a simplistic and classic hero-villain story with some heartwarming moments along the way which don’t necessarily tie into the video games. This idea for a film series could’ve been effective using an entirely new character, minus a few details that are specific to Sonic such as the few characters that are used and of course, the chaos emerald and rings. My second question is – why not just animate the entire film series instead of just Sonic, Tails and Knuckles? This would’ve allowed Sonic to thrive in his own world, been more visually appealing, and potentially provided a place for more of the original characters to feature.
In summary, the films are of course a great hit, and they are fun to watch – if you haven’t already, just don’t expect them to be like the video games. The best way I can describe my own experience with the Sonic films is by likening it to when you read a book, only to find the film version is nothing like you had anticipated it to be.