“It’s a sequel to a videogame adaptation,” is probably a sufficient review of Sonic 2. The first Sonic the Hedgehog teased the introduction of Tails in the sequel, which also incorporates Knuckles the echidna. Although welcome faces from the games, having three CG characters undermines the first film’s primary strength, which was the believeable relationship between its humans and the anthropomorphised hedgehog. The human leads now share virtually no screen time with Sonic at all and many scenes are entirely digital. Although it is unclear how much of this was imposed by COVID filming restrictions, the result is a flashy spectacle with a fraction of its predecessor’s grounding, so that making it live action feels all the more unnecessary. Hiring professional voice actor Colleen O’Shaughnessey as Tails also serves to highlight the limitations of big name casting for the other virtual characters. At best, Sonic 2’s inoffensive but entirely forgetable mascot mayhem may distract younger kids for two hours, despite there being insufficient plot to fill even half the running time.
“It’s a videogame adaptation,” is probably a sufficient review of Sonic, although that downplays its unusual journey to the screen. After the first trailer met near-universal criticism for Sonic’s horrifying half-human appearance, the film was pushed back for the character to be redesigned — as a result, it was released a month before the coronavirus pandemic shuttered cinemas globally, making it one of the highest grossing films of 2020. In terms of quality, however, this elevated the movie only to abject mediocrity, filled with predictable plotting and derivative action — like a bar fight that replicates Quicksilver’s memorable scene in X-Men: Days of Future Past. Like Dwayne Johnson in Rampage, James Marsden deserves credit for creating a genuine sense of rapport with his animated co-star. Jim Carrey’s scenery-chewing Robotnik injects some freshness, arguably the strongest aspect of the film except when he seems like Ace Ventura in cosplay. Ultimately, a cute, energetic mascot will appeal to younger children, but even older children are likely to lose interest by the halfway mark.