Hollywood has a terrible track record when it comes to adaptations, especially for video game adaptations. Uncharted may have been a box office success, but it was panned by critics as a lackluster take on Indiana Jones. The first Sonic the Hedgehog movie likely would’ve had a similar critical response, and an even worse fan reaction if not for the changes made to the character design after the first trailer was released. Now the same creative team is at it again with a sequel, Sonic the Hedgehog 2.
The first film is squarely a kid’s movie. There was some small appeal to 90s kids who grew up with the first Sonic games, but overall it wasn’t made for them. The sequel is still very much a kid’s movie, but it does drastically increase the game references, and even throws in a few jokes that only adults would get. It’s a bit of an odd approach if you’re trying to get the movie to appeal to adults, but it was still a fun and entertaining experience.
Sonic 2 picks up shortly after the events of the first film. Sonic (Ben Schwartz) is living with Tom (James Marsden) and Maddie (Tika Sumpter), but sneaking out at night to fight crime in nearby cities. When Dr. Robotnik (Jim Carrey) returns with some new muscle in the form of Knuckles (Idris Elba), Sonic and his friends must work together to defeat the evil threat, and protect the planet.
Knuckles is a great addition, with Elba playing the character with a fitting deadpan delivery through most of the film. While we see a bit of Knuckles’ origins, the character could’ve used a little more fleshing out. The film focuses so much on Sonic and Tails, that it really stands out when Knuckles doesn’t get the same attention. He has plenty of one-liners and some fun sequences, but Sonic and Tails are far more fleshed-out characters.
The action sequences in Sonic 2 are bigger and better than in the first film. While the story isn’t really based on any of the games, it does a decent job incorporating a number of game references. For the most part, Sonic 2 takes everything from the first film and ups the ante as much as possible. Unfortunately, that also means the human factor has been multiplied.
While human characters do show up in the Sonic games, people want to see Sonic and Tails (Colleen O’Shaughnessey) battling against Robotnik and Knuckles. For whatever reason, the movie comes to a screeching halt right in the middle so it can spend far too long on Maddie’s sister, Rachel (Natasha Rothwell), and her wedding ceremony in Hawaii. The film holds firmly on this event for what feels like an eternity (probably closer to about 10 minutes), with minimal appearances by any of the animated characters. All of this was just to tell a story about characters that haven’t been heavily featured in either film and have next to no interesting attributes. The entire segment adds nothing to the film and completely throws off the pacing.
It’s clear that the filmmakers tried (and failed) to appeal to adults, but the charm of Pixar and Marvel films is virtually nonexistent. Adults get an unwanted wedding scene, 90s era music that doesn’t fit well with the scenes they’re used for, and a few jokes that didn’t elicit even a single chuckle from the screening audience, and that children would have no way of understanding.
If you’re going to make a kid’s movie, just make a kid’s movie. Sonic 2 only suffers from the additional content meant to appeal to adults. If you remove all of the “adult content” and perhaps offer a bit more about Knuckles, Sonic 2 would be superior to the first film. As it stands, Sonic 2 is still a quality kid’s movie, and children will likely ignore the pacing issues as they’re cheering on Sonic and Tails, but there’s definitely room for improvement when it comes time to pen Sonic the Hedgehog 3.
About SONIC THE HEDGEHOG 2
Synopsis: When the manic Dr. Robotnik returns to Earth with a new ally, Knuckles the Echidna, Sonic, and his new friend Tails are all that stand in their way.
Director: Jeff Fowler
Writers: Pat Casey, Josh Miller, John Whittington
Stars: Ben Schwartz, Idris Elba, Colleen O’Shaughnessey, Jim Carrey, James Marsden
Runtime: 2 Hours, 2 Minutes
Releases: April 8th, 2022 (USA)
Bryan Dawson has been writing professionally since the age of 13. He started his career as a video game writer and has since worked for Random House, Prima Games, DirecTV, IGN, AOL, the British Government, and various other organizations. For GNN, Bryan taps into his passion for movies.