Saturday, February 22, 2020

Sonic the Hedgehog – humourless and puerile baloney that makes the movie Cats look like an Oscar contender

There’s a good sequence in Sonic the Hedgehog as the trailers roll and the plot is reprised (albeit in the wrong order) with a pixelated computer game version of Sonic scrabbling around in a baseball field, San Francisco, Paris and Egypt.

It’s a great two minutes of animation that unfortunately comes at the end of an hour and a half of humourless and puerile baloney directed by Jeff Fowler that makes the movie Cats look like an Oscar contender. There were very few oohs or ahs from the young audience at my screening. Two heavy hints at the close suggest there will be a sequel. Haven’t we suffered enough? There are movies – particularly ones that targeted at young cinemagoers – that just shouldn’t be made.

Rewinding quickly for anyone – hopefully everyone – who hasn’t seen the movie. The premise is that a furry blue hedgehog called Sonic with the cutest button nose from outer space who can run at superhuman (and perhaps supersonic) speeds (cue jokes about tortoises as they are slower than hedgehogs) has been banished to Earth by his mum/mentor (who doesn’t look like a hedgehog) for his own safety.

Over ten years, he seems to have picked up English, a love of movies, and an appreciation for a policeman Tom (James Marsden) who talks to donuts and lives with his veterinarian wife (Tika Sumpter). But Sonic lacks friends, and the consequences of the anger that realisation fills him with brings him to the attention of federal authorities who employ an unlikeable villainous technologist with a lorry full of drones to track him down.

“It feels like I’ve been running for my whole life” says Sonic early on, just as audiences begin to wish that he’d run longer and faster to escape the clutches of the moviemakers.

Sonic’s nauseating internal monologues (voiced by Ben Schwartz) are tedious. Jim Carrey plays Doctor Robotnik as if he’s the twin brother of Robbie Rotten from Lazytown. He’s cruel, evil, and thoroughly nasty and terribly driven (without any real motivation ever offered other than a throwaway line about being an orphan which doesn’t compute) and rarely funny.

The town of Greenhills is both free of crime and curiosity. San Francisco turns out to be a dangerous place to drive with few iconic vistas offered to represent the real-life city.

The raccoons are nice. More raccoons in films please, and fewer computer-generated hedgehogs. It’ll probably not be the worst film I’ll see this year, but it certainly sets the bar low and we’re not yet out of February.

Sonic the Hedgehog is playing in just about every cinema in the land which have more than two screens … so head along and see something else, particularly if you want to encourage children to enjoy the imaginative pleasure that cinema can be.

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