Quick synopsis: Robotnik comes back, very angry at Sonic. Robotnik has Knuckles, Sonic has Tails.
I found the first one fine. Wasn’t great, but wasn’t bad. Was one of the better video game adaptations, but not one of the better films in general. The kind of film you watch on Netflix while you’re homesick and need something simple.
This…..this is better. It’s very funny in parts, and has a MUCH better story than the first one. It also fixes some of the issues of the first film. It focuses more on Sonic and less on the human characters, realising that people that buy tickets to a Sonic movie, actually want to see Sonic. It also moves the action away from a crowded city, allowing the action to take place in natural environments. The games took place on grassland, so having so much of the first one take place in an urban area felt strange. This fixes that.
It also has a genuinely good story. It’s simple, but effective. And had a moment that actually surprised me. Especially since I didn’t know I was going to be surprised. It wasn’t like “I thought it was a straight drive from Point A to Point B, but one of the directions I took was different”, more like “I’m on a straight road and then a giant wooden Armadildo (nope, not a typo) appeared in front of me”.
Don’t get me wrong, this isn’t going to appear on my “best of” list at the end of the year. But if it’s on Netflix, I’ll probably watch it. If I need something on while I do something else, I might choose it. It’s just wholesome fun. It’s not trying to say something deep about humanity, or make you think melancholic thoughts about the universe. It’s just bright colours, comedic lines, actions and noises. Encanto was ABSOLUTELY the better movie, but I’d show kids this first.
The smartest thing this film does are the references to the games. And there are A LOT of references. This was clearly made by someone who has actually played the games, the little sound effects, the visual references, and similar camera angles, are all perfect. Some of the references are less subtle, there’s a coffee shop called “Mean Bean Machine”, and one of the Sonic themes is someone’s ringtone. But if you find a list of references, there WILL be some you miss.
It’s not perfect though. There are two problems from the original that they haven’t fixed in this one. One is personal opinion, some of the music choices feel too much like they’re chosen just to be “cool”, rather than working for the film. The second one is speed. Sonic is fast, and there are more than a few moments in this film where him remembering that fact would have ended a scene quicker. Like when he needs to get a map from a bar, and it’s attached to the bottom of someones foot who he is challenging to a dance contest. We’ve already seen (from the bar scene in the first film) that he could EASILY run, get the paper off the bottom of the shoe, and run back without anybody noticing. But he doesn’t. It’s a shame as it shows that the writers haven’t considered it. Him being fast means you have to be more creative with what problems you put in front of him, but this doesn’t do that. It puts the same problems to him, and then just doesn’t have him go fast.
The action, the world-building, the fact that even though the character is fast you can still tell what’s happening during the action scenes. It all adds up to a sentence I’d never thought I’d say:
This would have been a better MCU-adjacent film than Morbius. It also used Idris Elba than the Thor franchise did. He has tremendous personality with great comic timing, and him not being allowed to display any of those in the MCU is a massive waste of his talent.
It’s just overall a very solid film, it introduces the new characters well, establishing who they are and what their powers are so that even people who haven’t played the games will know what they can do. It also does a good job of making the villain imposing. You do sit there genuinely wondering how the heroes are going to win.
So in summary, go see it. It won’t change the world, but it will make your day better.