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Sonic the Hedgehog was one of my Most Anticipated Movies of 2020, not because I expected it to be one of the best films of the year, but due to the controversy that surrounded it. The original design of Sonic was awful, and a lot of people still blame the VFX artists/animators unfairly. These people work extra hours, they're underpaid, and they were given an impossible schedule to deliver a masterful work. Fortunately, most people now recognize that the studio and all of its execs are the ones to blame.
The Internet voiced its opinion in a very polite manner (as usual), but this time, an unprecedented event occurred: the studio actually listened and decided to delay the movie until Sonic received a better treatment visually. Now, I firmly believe that, in any other case, this would be extremely dangerous. I don't think the audience should have this much power over the studios, especially through social media. I mean, if studios changed their films every time people criticized a design or an adaptation decision, movies would be constantly delayed. However…
In this particular case, I'm super glad they did it. One question a lot of people might ask is, "how would this film perform with the old design?". It would be horrible. There's absolutely no chance of people enjoying this movie with the previous Sonic. This new design not only honors the character's visuals, but it complements the film's tone. Jim Carrey delivers an incredibly cartoonish performance, which would become way too out-of-place if Sonic looked (awfully) real. Having both the hero and villain being/acting like a cartoon, that awkwardness doesn't exist.
Sonic truly is the best part of the whole thing. If you've played the games and if you carry an emotional connection to this character, there are tons of scenes for you to enjoy. Sonic looks wonderful, sounds fantastic (excellent voice work from Ben Schwartz), and best of all, his personality resembles the videogame character. Everything that's directly Sonic-related is perfectly faithful to the source material, which will definitely please every Sonic fan. That's pretty much my main message: if you're a fan of the little blue guy, I can't imagine anyone being disappointed.
Unfortunately, he's honestly the only great aspect of the movie. It's really cool to watch Jim Carrey going back to his roots and having so much fun with his role. However, he's very hit-and-miss. When he's condescending someone, he's quite funny, but Carrey's mannerisms don't always work. Still, once again, I believe he's very faithful to the original Dr. Robotnik, who was by no means a "normal" person. James Marsden is really good as Tom, but his character never goes beyond "Sonic's pal".
My main issues are regarding the screenplay. No, I never expected it to be an Oscar-worthy narrative. I just wanted a simple story that allowed Sonic to shine, and in the film's defense, it's indeed a basic plot. However, the sheer abundance of cliches, the lack of any surprises, and the logical questions raised by some narrative decisions are too much to handle, in my opinion. There are three product placement scenes that are some of the laziest, obvious, cringe-worthy examples since the Transformers' movies. It feels like the film stops to have a few commercials.
Subplots that serve as tension-building during the movie fail to have a resolution by the end. Storylines that were once important are entirely forgotten and never addressed again. Every single character serves as comic-relief, everyone gets to be the "clown". I repeat: I never expected a brilliant screenplay. But is it too much to ask the writers to have as much dedication and creativity as the VFX artists who handled Sonic? The latter group worked like crazy to deliver a perfect design. Why can't the writers try harder to offer a more compelling, unique, and rational story?
The way Dr. Robotnik comes into play and the level of permission he has to do whatever he desires to is laughable. Everything human-related raises too many eyebrows and rolls too many eyes. I've commented about the film online, and some people addressed me by saying, "you're overanalyzing /you're expecting too much from it". I wholeheartedly understand these observations, I genuinely do. The thing is: I don't believe I'm overthinking, let alone expecting it to be a masterpiece. Why should people simply accept that a movie "can't be better than what it is"? Why can't people ask for the potential that a Sonic film has? Why should I be content that it's "not bad"?
I'm completely honest: I wanted to like this movie way more than most people. The whole controversy concerning Sonic's design and the unfair blame that the VFX artists received, left me with an overwhelming desire to absolutely love this film, so I could support the massive work that these people went through. I love everything that's Sonic-related in the movie. His design, voice, and personality are spot-on, and I can't imagine a single fan of the little blue hedgehog being disappointed. However, even with a really good cast and a 90s' Jim Carrey, Sonic the Hedgehog is packed with extreme cliches and narrative decisions that roll too many eyes. Some of the most obvious and cringe-worthy product placement since Michael Bay's Transformers. Characters built from Hollywood's recycling box and side stories are thrown away with no resolution. It's a fun adventure that any family can enjoy on a Sunday afternoon, but I can't lie to myself: I wish it could have been more entertaining and less frustrating story-wise.