After the release of Sonic The Hedgehog back in 2019, something almost happened on this website that has never happened before. No, we didn’t actually proof read an article, smart ass; no, I came this close to giving a movie based on a video game more than three stars, something that all the Lara Crofts, Nathan Drakes and Colonel Guiles haven’t even come close to in the entire history of the still relatively new genre (I’m not counting the fantastic Werewolves Within, by the way, as it has precious little to do with its source material – plus it screws up my point).
As a fevered Sonic fan back in my more youthful days, I was still fully expecting the movie to be a loud, obnoxious car crash that jangled the nerves and tested the patience but imagine my surprise when the finished movie came within a quill’s width of being utterly awesome – so when a sequel was announced (complete with an almost game accurate Dr. Robotnik), I was stunned by how invested I found myself. Could the fast talking, warp speed running little blue hedgehog finally manage to curl intonation ball and break through my three-star glass ceiling? Unfortunately no – but it’s a lot of fun watching him try.
After being stranded on the Mushroom Planet at the end of the previous movie, heftily moustached, lunatic scientist Dr. Ivo Robotnik manages to send out an SOS thanks to the fact that he’s incredibly smart while being even crazier than a shithouse rat than he was before. His rescue pulse is answered by a bright red, bad tempered Echidna named Knuckles whose tribe was wiped out and has been looking for revenge ever since.
Meanwhile, back on earth, Sonic has been using his powers on the sly when he sneaks out at night to become Blue Justice, righter of wrongs and careless destroyer of public property, so surrogate father Tom Wachowski strains to teach the teenage hedgehog responsibility. However, he and his wife Maddie are off to Hawaii to attend her sister’s wedding and when the adults are away, the hedgehog will play as he has a whole two nights at home utterly unsupervised – but the fact that Sonic has a lack of friends like himself troubles Tom.
That’s quickly rectified as Robotnik returns to earth with his brand new hench-echidna who proceeds to beat the quills out of his adversary until the intervention of Miles “Tails” Prowler, a young fox who is a gifted inventor and can use his two tails to make his butt act like a helicopter and the two make a break for it while their enemies regroup.
Tails, who it turns out is quite the fan boy of Sonic, fills his new buddy in on what Knuckles and Robotnik is trying to achieve and that’s to hunt down and find the Master Emerald, a football-sized gem of incredible power that’s conveniently located on earth undoubtedly alongside all the hundreds of other superpowered artifacts that countless movies have also suggested (so what, earth is the equivalent of a storage locker to the rest of the universe or something?) and so the duo head out to get it first in an adventure that includes hidden temples, giant robots, wedding crashing and a Siberian dance off.
So, while Sonic The Hedgehog 2 manages to hold almost the exact level of quality as the first film – that of a perfectly serviceable family film that’s a genuinely sweet love letter to the original game – it unfortunately can’t capitalize on it’s new characters to raise the movie into being something special. It’s never quite as fun or as funny as it hopes it is and the sequences have a distinct hit or miss feel that’s weirdly inconsistent as it stumbles through the potholes caused by yet another fantasy movie that requires incessant amounts of macguffin hunting. While Sonic and Tales hunt a map, to find a compass, to discover a lost temple, to locate the emerald we’ll have to endure an extended and weirdly awkward Siberian dance competition and a detour to Hawaii to desperately try and find things for it’s supporting human cast to do and some of it suspiciously feels like filler employed to pad the run time into something more substantial.
The new characters do manage to keep things moving however, and even though Tails is literally nothing more that a super adorable fountain of easy to access exposition and Knuckles (Idris Elba playing him essentially as Drax from Guardians Of The Galaxy in his continuing quest to appear in every franchise in cinema history) third act good guy turn is a predictable as a coin toss with two heads, it’s legitimately great to see them interact as your megadrive playing inner child geeks out.
And it’s here where Sonic 2 finds its giant, sneakered feet as it shamelessly plunders the early games for endless references and in-jokes to inflict a 16-bit joygasm on anyone familiar with Sonic lore.
Be it the surprisingly brusing encounters between Sonic and Knuckles as they aggressively beat the crap out of each other using their super speed to Jim Carrey one once again performing shameless grand theft scene like it was still the nineties as the maniacal Robotnik (choice moment: in a fit of anger he tries to chew his way through the windshield of a car), the filmmakers certainly know their Sonic. There’s the snowboarding from Sonic 3, there’s Tales flying a byplane from Sonic 2 and anyone who remembers trying to negotiate the Labyrinth Zone from the original will surely relive one of the most stressful moments in Sega MegaDrive history as Sonic runs the very real risk of drowning. However, while the film is nicely passable, the final twenty minutes bursts into life as the story succumbs entirely to the game references and the speedy critters square up to the massive King Kong-sized Death Egg Robot as an emerald powered Carrey overacts like a lunatic powers it from within.
We even get the appearance of an infamous power up from the games (if you got all the emeralds in Sonic 2 you’ll know what I mean) and a sequel baiting, post credits cameo of a much maligned Sega character and it seems like the studio is about to go full connected universe with a third movie and a spinoff on the cards…
It’s a tremendously fun climax and it’s a shame the movie, for all its amusing jokes (Knuckles can only read text messages out loud, even the dots that denotes that the sender is typing), can’t maintain this pace all the way through, but for an undemanding family film it’s still nicely just above average that’s a treasure trove for button bashers who fondly remember the old days.