In 2020, a hybrid live-action/animated comedy-adventure based on Sega’s highly successful video game and media brand inspired by the extraterrestrial hedgehog known as Sonic for his super Sonic speed was released in theaters.
After Sonic the Hedgehog became the highest-grossing video game movie of all time, the sequel follows Sonic‘s travels on Earth following his arrival from a faraway planet and his amateurish efforts to make friends with a Montana couple.
Sonic the Hedgehog 2 will appeal to family audiences seeking Christmas diversions, even if it doesn’t break new ground in extending the franchise’s vast world of intertwined characters and plotlines.
Following the conclusion of the 2020 film, Sonic (voiced by Ben Schwartz) moves in with his new pals Maddie Wachowski (Tika Sumpter) and Tom (James Marsden) in their Green Hills home. Sonic soon begins slipping out of the house late at night in quest of excitement, having become accustomed to a faster-paced existence as a result of his interplanetary adventures.
Sonic is briefly sidelined after an introductory scenario including a high-speed pursuit and some poor judgment that gets him in hot water with Tom and Maddie. When they leave their position as surrogate parents for a vacation to Hawaii to attend the wedding of Maddie’s sister Rachel (Natasha Rothwell), Sonic is soon up to his regular shenanigans.
Sonic‘s domestic situation provides an emotional arc for the action, following his unpredictable and occasionally dangerous pursuit of heroic fame while Maddie and Tom try to guide him toward more responsible conduct, assuring him he’s “still just a child.” Sonic‘s increasingly radical actions place him beyond the reach of any pretence of parental oversight, which Tom and Maddie essentially abdicate by leaving town anyhow.
Their absence allows the super-evil Dr. Robotnik (Jim Carrey) to locate Sonic and wreak vengeance for his humiliating exile to a distant planet in the last film. This time, he’s joined forces with Knuckles (Idris Elba), a red-quilled, porcupine-like echidna who’s come to Earth in pursuit of Master Emerald, a gem with the power to rule the whole world.
Knuckles has his own dispute with Sonic, but the intrepid hedgehog is aided by Tails (voiced by Colleen O’Shaughnessy). The tiny yellow fox with two tails adores Sonic so much that he jumps at the chance to join a quest to find the emerald and prevent Robotnik from using it to feed his crazy power hunger.
Their quest for the green gem brings them back to Hawaii, where they practically interrupt Rachel’s wedding, with Robotnik and Knuckles hot on their tails. The directors can pile on a practically endless sequence of occurrences that quickly coalesce into huge scene pieces dominated by rapid editing and startling sound effects because of the movie’s instantly identifiable narrative framework. However, these moments occasionally highlight the emphasis on too much over-the-top cartoonish action, with almost absurd story developments delivered at a breakneck pace, evoking the film’s video game beginnings.
With the exception of a few delightful matchups between Sonic and Knuckles or Dr. Robotnik and his menacing drone army, director Jeff Fowler, who returns for the sequel, mines his enthusiasm for the Sonic games but mostly resists any misguided inclination to mimic the franchise’s famously manic gameplay.
Carrey‘s portrayal of the wicked genius depends on a variety of facial tics (added by an outsized mustache) and unpredictable body language typical of the precisely timed physical humor he’s developed in a number of equally absurd comedic performances. Meanwhile, Schwartz captures Sonic‘s sardonic, impudent demeanor and unbridled need for thrills, even if the character’s constantly frenetic tone becomes tiresome.
Together, they create a frantic pace that Marsden and Sumpter try to match, but Tom and Maddie keep underlining the necessity of friends and family in controlling Sonic‘s adolescent urges. It is a technique that has a direct impact on their confusing little charge, encouraging him to extend a similar gesture of acceptance to Tails and Knuckles.
With many more characters and plotlines to choose from in the Sonic world, it’s likely they’ll return to teach similar lessons in their never-ending quest for adventure.