Sonic the Hedgehog 2: Review
Sonic the Hedgehog 2 Synopsis: After settling in Green Hills, Sonic (Ben Schwartz) is eager to prove that he has what it takes to be a true hero. His test comes when Dr. Robotnik (Jim Carrey) returns with a new partner, Knuckles (Idris Elba), in search of a mystical emerald that has the power to destroy civilizations. Sonic teams up with his own sidekick, Tails, and they embark on a globe-trotting journey to find the emerald before it falls into the wrong hands.
Sporting his tailor-made white sneakers and everpresent youthful buoyancy, Sonic the Hedgehog continues endearing himself to older and younger generations alike. As a cultural mainstay over the last 30 years, Sonic stands as one of the few video game characters to manifest into a system-selling presence, morphing his unique fantasy world into a brand synonymous with super-speed action.
The SEGA mascot also represents one of the few video game protagonists making a seamless transition into big-budget tentpoles. After decades of fumbling viable properties on screen, Hollywood finally zeroed in on the appeals of one of gaming’s marquee personas with Sonic’s 2020 debut. The film is admittedly weightless, but Sonic the Hedgehog intelligently leaned into the colorful energy and fast-paced plotting of its source material.
For better and for worse, Sonic the Hedgehog 2 offers more of the same experience. While the sequel confuses grander spectacle for a better experience, Director Jeff Fowler maintains the loose comedic energy that made the original a welcomed surprise.
Credit to Fowler and his creative team (returning screenwriters Pat Casey and Josh Miller) for continuing to showcase their deft understanding of the source material. Repurposing Sonic’s cocky exuberance into an affable, child-like figure represents the best qualities of his bold personality while drawing a genuine connection to his youthful core audience.
I also love the playful Saturday Morning Cartoon vibrancy both Sonic films possess. Sonic the Hedgehog 2 reflects self-awareness at every turn, never tricking itself into taking its melodramatic plot beats too seriously. It’s a silly-faced approach that Fowler continues to excel at representing. Energetic action set pieces and good-natured gags sprint toward viewers at a fast-and-furious pace – often moving at a frenetic speed fitting of the film’s titular hedgehog.
Sonic the Hedgehog 2 also enhances its core appeals with a few welcomed additions. Ben Schwartz and James Marsden continue their breezy and surprisingly affectionate chemistry as Sonic and his human paternal figure Tom – while Jim Carrey reignites his manic 90’s comedic energy again in his playful interpretation of Dr. Robotnik.
However, the inclusion of Colleen O’Shaughnessey’s bright presence as Tails and Idris Elba’s stone-cold edge as Knuckles often take the spotlight. Both voice actors skillfully adapt their characters’ core appeals, adding distinctive characterization and a welcomed comedic presence that fits right into the film series.
Similar to its predecessor, Sonic the Hedgehog 2 still fails to elevate past its general pleasantness. Fowler’s strengths in freewheeling comedy do not translate into the cookie-cutter action setpieces, which often reek of spotty CGI and a lack of visceral creativity. It’s a shame that both films rest far too comfortably in the standard family-film mold, rarely pushing the character and his universe past familiar cliches.
I also think this sequel is too busy for its own good. Clocking in at 122-minutes compared to the original’s airtight 99-minute experience, Sonic 2 presents one too many subplots at the expense of the original’s appeals (I wish Schwartz and Marsden shared more screentime, they are the heart of these films).
For fans of the Sonic brand, Sonic the Hedgehog 2 still delivers enough warmth and infectious energy to continue the series’ winning streak on the big screen.