Sonic is back with new pals in tow, as well as foe Dr Robotnik (Picture: Paramount)
Sonic the Hedgehog 2 brings back everyone’s favourite blue spiny mammal after the first movie did some brisk business at the box office in 2020 – but it’s a random and pretty lacklustre effort, bar the game efforts of some of its stars, including one Jim Carrey.
The iconic comic actor shines once again in the role of Sonic’s nemesis Dr Ivo Robotnik, harking back to fan favourite performances from The Mask, Ace Ventura and the Grinch. With such a rubber face and particular style of delivery, Carrey is in his element playing a video game villain. It may not be 100% true to the original character, but an actor like Carrey is hired to stamp this sort of part with their own brand.
From the opening scene, which shows a delightfully rustic game-inspired sequence on the mushroom planet, where Robotnik is exiled following the events of the previous movie, Carrey captures attention and propels along a rather run-of-the-mill sequel.
If you want stakes, the actor is ready to serve a plate piled high with drama – and an extra side of relish. This might sound like he’s gone too far over the top, but the force and humour of his performance is pitched just right, providing many a 90s kid with a pang of nostalgia for when we were treated to more frequent turns from the actor.
That’s not to say he’s the only actor bringing pizzazz, however, with James Marsden obligingly back once more as Sonic’s guardian Tom and Tika Sumpter as his wife Maddie, both of whom are, for the most part, lumbered with the boring adult bits.
However, in a random, very non-video game move, a wedding subplot is shoe-horned in for Maddie’s sister Rachel (Natasha Rothwell), which makes zero sense in the grand scheme of things but is where all the humour and diversion for adults can be found. Rothwell shines in her fury and gives Marsden more to do than simply tell off Sonic.
Jim Carrey is the compelling argument to enjoy this film (Picture: Paramount)
Idris Elba joins the franchise as Knuckles, in a move sure to please game fans (Picture: Paramount)
For game fans, the sequel introduces more characters from the Sonic universe in Knuckles and Tails (Colleen O’Shaughnessey). Keeping largely in step with how they are represented in the source material, both offer foil to Sonic as a misunderstood rival and awed sidekick respectively.
Their additions also give a reason for the sequel to actually exist (bar wanting more Jim Carrey), although Idris Elba’s Knuckles gets the lion share of the screentime. Elba’s growly, semi-American tones really work for the character, although clocking that it’s him (which took me a good 10 minutes or so) can then make the role oddly distracting in the movie when voiced by an easily distinguishable actor.
Sonic still plays the adolescent when it comes to his relationship with Tom (James Marsden) (Picture: Paramount)
Tails is new in Sonic 2 too (Picture: Paramount)
Sonic the Hedgehog 2 is very firmly pitched at the younger kids’ market, although diehard fans of the game will also find their own pleasure in searching for Easter eggs and references to the source material. It must be said, though, Paramount and Sega have prioritised Sonic’s position as a family film over anything else. It also goes in hard on teaching kids to accept themselves for who they are, a slightly clunky lesson it can’t pull off with as much style or sincerity as Disney.
Ben Schwartz’s energetic vocal performance in the central role will certainly entertain kids, as well as some of the goofy jokes and pop culture references he makes, some of which – to adult ears, at least – are already a bit long in the tooth.
The grown-ups have their own thing going on a lot until the final climactic battle (Picture: Kimberley French/Paramount)
The overall zaniness works had to (just about) cover up a basic plot that doesn’t stand up to much scrutiny, skirting over detail in favour of big set pieces, which is probably the right choice when you can have a dance break competition in a Siberian pub and a chaotic Hawaiian wedding. No, it doesn’t make much sense when written down like that, but this film of two halves almost splits itself down the middle when it remembers supervising adults are likely watching too.
A muddled film with bright spots, which tries to serve different audiences without straying too far from its main target of children, makes for a bit of a Frankenfilm. Despite the efforts of its stellar cast, it doesn’t really distinguish itself much other than to say it’s better than it could have been.
Sonic the Hedgehog 2 is exclusively in cinemas April 1.