'Sonic the Hedgehog' Blu-ray
Check out our review of the live-action version of Sonic the Hedgehog!
A super-speedy hedgehog (voiced by Ben Schwartz) goes on the run from a diabolical genius (Jim Carrey), and is helped by a sympathetic sheriff (James Marsden). Directed by Jeff Fowler. Based on the Sega video game.
Given Hollywood’s abysmal record of translating video games to film, I approached Sonic the Hedgehog with low expectations. Thankfully, fans of the classic Sega game and parents looking for a fun movie for their kids will be pleasantly surprised. Sonic the Hedgehog is a manic, charming film that remains faithful to the spirit of the game that inspired it.
Given the controversy surrounding the initial design of the Sonic character, I have to give Paramount credit for listening to fans and nailing the character in the final product. Sonic, voiced by Ben Schwartz, is both funny and personable, and because they got the character right, the movie is an entertaining diversion.
The film begins with Sonic enjoying life on his homeworld, which is a faithful recreation of the world in the video game, right down to the loop-de-loops. When his enemies come after him, Sonic is forced to flee to Earth, where he loses his precious rings and is pursued by Dr. Robotnik (Jim Carrey), a mad scientist who works for the government.
Sonic befriends a small-town sheriff (James Marsden) who decides to help him find the rings and escape Robotnik. Of course, that gives Sonic the opportunity to connect with the humans he has had to avoid.
The film doesn’t try to reinvent the wheel here: it doesn’t modernize the character, and it directly targets the kids with the story and humor. Since it is faithful to the original game, 90s kids raised on Sonic games will enjoy the film’s tone and the Easter eggs peppered throughout.
Speaking of Sonic, Ben Schwartz is the perfect choice to voice the character. Getting CGI characters “right” isn’t easy, as the reaction to Sonic’s original design proved. Schwartz, however, brings the character to life with just the right level of mischievousness and likability. The CGI animation of Sonic is top-notch, which helps.
While the film is entertaining enough, it’s really saying something that Sonic is the most personable character in the film. He actually manages to upstage his human counterparts, and it isn’t just because of Schwartz’s performance.
While he obviously has some moments, Jim Carrey’s schtick here seems uninspired. It feels like the same jokes that you’ve seen him do since the 90s, and there’s nothing new or fresh. I was really expecting more laughs from him, but he seemed too intent on hamming up the role of the mustache-twirling villain.
Sonic the Hedgehog has no business being as entertaining as it is, which will be good news for parents who will sit down to enjoy with the kids. It shamelessly borrows tropes from lots of other movies, but even their ripoff of the “bullet time” scene from X-Men: Days of Future Past is fun. It’s likely the kickoff for a film franchise, and if so, I wouldn’t totally be against it.
VIDEO AND AUDIO
The high-definition transfer compliments the CGI effects well, and sports a vibrant color palette. The reds are deep and rich, and the blacks are surprisingly inky. Sonic’s blue is a bit desaturated from the hue we saw in the video game, but it works to sell the character in a live-action setting.
Detail is excellent, and the only shortcoming I took note of was the rendering for the CGI smoke. In high definition, the smoke looks like an ugly smudge, but the rest of the visual effects are top notch.
Audio is a surprisingly active Dolby Atmos mix, with lots of effective low end and a nicely-layered presentation. If you have a full multi-channel set-up, you’ll be impressed.
There’s a nice set of bonus features included, although most are promotional pieces. Still, they provide a nice look behind-the-scenes at the making of the film.
The special features included on the Blu-ray are:
Audio Commentary. Director Jeff Fowler and the voice of Sonic, Ben Schwartz, provide an informative commentary. There are a few nice anecdotes, and there’s plenty of praise for Jim Carrey.
“Around the World in 80 Seconds” short. This animated short features Sonic’s journal as he travels the world. Running Time: 1:48.
Deleted Scenes. Five deleted scenes (“Original Opening,” “Super Observant Carl,” “Baby Sonic,” “Tom and Sonic Have a Chat,” and “Rachel and Wade Plan a Date”) are included. There’s also an optional introduction by director Jeff Fowler. Total running time: 13:23.
Bloopers. The best flubs from Jim Carrey and the cast are featured. Running Time: 2:13.
“Speed Me Up” Music Video. Wiz Khalifa, Ty Dolla $ign, Lil Yachty, and Sueco the Child sing about Sonic while they enter the 16-bit world of the classic game. It isn’t a terrible song, but it seems a bit out of place for these guys. I’m guessing they won’t be performing this when they tour. Running Time: 3:43.
“For the Love of Sonic” featurette. Jim Carrey, James Marsden, Ben Schwartz and the cast discuss their memories of the game and how they translated it to the screen. Running Time: 4:00.
“Building Robotnik with Jim Carrey” featurette. Jim Carrey discusses his approach to his character. Running Time: 4:02.
“The Blue Blur: The Origins of Sonic” featurette. 90s kids will love this featurette, which explores the history of both the Sega Genesis and Sonic. Among those interviewed is Sega video game designer Takashi Iizuka. Running Time: 6:21.
“Sonic On Set” featurette. The voice of Sonic, Ben Schwartz, gives viewers a behind-the-scenes look, which includes footage of his motion-capture performance. Running Time: 3:27.
Comic Book. A mini comic book, titled “The Adventures of Sonic and the Donut Lord,” is included with the Blu-ray as a pack-in.
Digital Copy. A code for a digital copy of the film, redeemable at services including VUDU, FandangoNow, and iTunes, is included. Paramount codes are not redeemable at Movies Anywhere.
Release Date: May 19, 2020
Running Time: 98 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 2.39:1
Audio: English Dolby Atmos, English Description Track, and Dolby Digital 5.1 in the following languages: Spanish, French, Italian, Portuguese, Swedish.
Subtitles: English, English for the Hearing Impaired, Danish, Spanish, French, Italian, Dutch, Norwegian, Portuguese, Finnish, and Swedish.
Audio Commentary: With director Jeff Fowler and actor Ben Schwartz.