I originally was on the fence about seeing the Sonic the Hedgehog movie. But the praise it received from those I trust to have loving but honest opinions about Sega convinced me. So in preparation, I basically went all-in on Sonic. I finally played (and beat) Sonic Mania, which I had put off for a long time. I filled my playlists with songs from Sonic and Sonic-adjacent sources. In a way, it was a homecoming for me, because my very first online community was actually a Sonic and NiGHTS fanfiction site. A part of me will always love the blue hedgehog.
One thing that struck me about the film is how, despite Sonic having a continued presence throughout the decades, Sonic the Hedgehog the movie is essentially a nostalgia film that nevertheless has appeal to kids today. It’s not set in the past (smartphones exist), and the way they portray Sonic as kind of naive and lonely fits better in today’s environment, but the overall buddy flick sensibility feels like it comes straight out of the 1990s, when Sonic was at his peak in terms of recognizability. Even though Jim Carrey isn’t portrayed with the classic girth of Robotnik, he comes across as how the character (described as having an immense IQ but the maturity of a child) could have been translated well to film even in the 90s. In fact, Jim Carrey probably could have played Robotnik back then as well.
Sonic the Hedgehog the movie is a surprisingly solid movie that feels faithful to the core spirit of Sonic as a “cool dude with attitude.” So much could have gone wrong, and the fact that it was inches away from being a total disaster makes it all the more miraculous. Most notably, the original design for Sonic in the movie was met with such widespread panning that they had to redo all the CG. And it matters a lot! That re-design basically was the difference between Sonic being an endearing character and one who induces nightmares.
The artists responsible for fixing Sonic’s look also got their studio shuttered before Christmas in the worst thank-you ever. If all the success this film has achieved doesn’t somehow go back into paying all of these employees who helped save this movie, then my opinion of it will sour immensely. But for now, I think Sonic the Hedgehog is worthy of praise.
It’s fitting that both Sonic the Hedgehog the movie and Sonic Mania are processed blasts of the 90s. Perhaps it took those three decades or so for the nostalgia to come around and make the Sonics everyone wanted into a reality once more.