Sonic The Hedgehog (2020)

So the cinemas are now open again so I’m back at this. It’s been over a month since my last blog (been mainly writing some stuff I’ll be posting soon, which involved having to do research into Nigerian slang). There are some good films showing at the moment, Proxima looks like it could be good, My Spy could be fun, Onward is Pixar so should be great, and Unhinged looks like it could be great popcorn cinema. Not only that but classic films are being shown too; Goodfellas, Empire, Back To The Future, all classics in cinema history yet I am still yet to see and I have a chance to see them on the big screen for free so I’d be a fool not to do that, right?

So with all those great options in mind, what film did I deem important enough to be the first film I see post-lockdown? Sonic The Freaking Hedgehog. That should not be a surprise though considering that, well, it’s in the title of the page so if you didn’t read that then why are you here?

So was it worth it? Hard to tell, I consider it worth me seeing it as it’s a film I needed to have an opinion on, but it’s not one I feel was deeply important that I saw on a big screen, I wouldn’t have lost anything if I watched it on Netflix later in the year. Truth be told I’m not sure I would have even felt guilty if I illegally watched it.

I had hopes this wouldn’t be the greatest film in the world, but would at least be done with a lot of love. When the original trailer dropped and audiences complained about Sonics teeth being really creepy, the studio delayed the film so they could fix that issue. That showed to me that they had some pride in the project, and in some aspects that is easy to see. The closing credits are the most unique I’ve seen all year and it shows a real love not only for the film but for the original series. Sadly, this isn’t matched by the script. So much of it seems incredibly “first draft”. There are scenes and sequences which don’t really have any purpose, they don’t effect the story in any way whatsoever. Weirdly, this accusation could be levelled at the opening scene too (no, not the “I bet you’re wondering how I got here?” opening) where we see Sonic as a youth being hunted by echidnas before being protected by an owl. The echidnas are never mentioned again. There are other issues with the script as well, mainly in terms of consistency. I’ll start with the big one first: how fast does sonic go? Because usually when he runs we can see a blur so we know he’s moved, just very quickly (at much the same speed as an incredibly fast car, at one point it’s stated as 300mph). But when the story (or a joke) needs it, he can run A LOT faster. Two main examples: at one point he covers 800 miles in about 2 seconds, doing 400 of it soaking wet and with a fish on his head. The second is during the “bullet time” moments, one of which he moves and causes chaos around the room (affecting a whole bar-room full of people) in a split second. The other inconsistency: he says he needs human help to get inside the building as his bag of rings (just go with it) is on the roof of the building. Yet in the opening scene we see him do a vertical run up a similar building, so it’s pointless. Him being sneaked into the building leads to a moment you probably saw in the trailer where two random people hear sonic talking from inside the main character’s bag and think he’s kidnapped a child. “oh, it’s not mine” and they back off staring at him. Two things with this:

  1. This NEVER comes up again. So did they not tell the police?
  2. By this point the government think this guy is a terrorist and has put out a nationwide alert for him, putting his face all over the news. So these two people saw a terrorist going with a suspicious package into a large building, and didn’t question him? Bit weird. Even the security guard at the door didn’t recognise him. Also there’s never any information on how the government did the “oh he’s innocent now” announcement.

Mentioning the government has reminded me of something: our government are bastards. But also this: they didn’t see Robotnik get transported into the mushroom kingdom (eugh, I know, I know) so what exactly do they think happened? And why did they let the main character go free rather than question him A LOT about what happened? It’s like they didn’t put any thought into the story elements if it ruined their jokes. It’s all VERY “first draft”. There’s a lot of basic issues with this film that a good script editor would have fixed.

So yeah, that’s Sonic. It’s alright, has a few very funny moments, and Jim Carrey is somehow both the best and worst thing in the movie, with the exact same justification for both (his energy is both brilliant, yet also entirely inconsistent with the other characters). Definitely a “wait until netflix” film. Oh, the ending for this has THE most blatent product placement.

Comedy; It’s No Laughing Matter

I was having a conversation with someone yesterday about script ideas when I mentioned I was working on a romantic comedy. The response I got was pretty much “why don’t you aim higher?”. I find that a little bit insulting, not to me, (I’m rather glad they think I’m worth something), but to comedy. People dismiss comedy far too easily; it’s rarely nominated for any major film awards (for example; the last comedy to win Best Picture Oscar was Annie Hall in 1977, unless you count The Artist, which I don’t, because the first thing you think of when you think of that film isn’t laughter). When people ask for the best films they’ve seen they tend to go with the serious artsy ones, maybe because they actually like them, maybe because they feel that’s what they should be saying. 

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“Ass-ablanca is the best movie ever made” “don’t you mean-” “I know what I said”

I don’t know why people are so dismissive of comedy. I suspect it has something to do with people assuming it’s too lowbrow. That “comedy” is just made up of swear words and slapstick; which is ridiculous (for one thing; they’re completely missing “puns” and “racial stereotypes that white people find funny”). I will freely admit that most of my favourite tv shows and films are comedies. And it’s not just because I haven’t seen the “classics”. I’ve watched Citizen Kane, I’ve watched 2001: A Space Odyssey, and I’ve watched Full Metal Jacket, and I did really appreciate them and loved them, but I didn’t ENJOY any of them half as much as I enjoyed films like Airplane, Lego Batman Movie or In The Loop. 

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Comedy can do (and does) a lot more than people think. It can change the way people think about the world, it can inspire ideas, it can affect you in ways that leave you emotionally devastated (I’m looking at you 50/50)

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I’m then looking away, because if I look too long I’ll cry

It’s not just comedy that gets a bad rap; anybody involved in comedy does too. If an actor known for comedy makes a comment about something he is instantly dismissed. We need to start taking things like that more seriously; let’s not dismiss Jim Carrey’s thoughts about vaccines causing autism just because he’s a comedian, let’s dismiss his thoughts because they’re wrong and he’s a fucking idiot about it.

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And for being a prick

Personally, I love it when comedy and comedians effect me in an emotional way. If something includes a little bit of light it makes the darkness seem more extreme (and therefore effective). On the flipside; laughter can also make something easier to take in. It’s why people will watch and read Horrible Histories and learn more from that than from A Complete History Of British Rulers.  One of the best examples of a comedian embracing the darkness a few years ago came from American tv personality Stephen Colbert. He took a week off from The Colbert Report to deal with his mum and her death. When he came back he opened the show, not with a roundup of the show ahead, not of a bunch of silly jokes, but with a heartfelt tribute. Here’s a condensed version:

She was born just a little ways from here in Larchmont, NY on Chatsworth Ave. in 1920, the same week women first got the right to vote. She spent her summers in the Adirondacks with her older sister Colleen and her younger brother Ed, who called her Snodgrass. She met my father James at age 12 at cotillion and she liked him, but she didn’t want him to know how much, so she would make her friends ride their bikes all the way across town to pass by his house, but then she’d never look to see if he was in the front yard, which of course drove her friends crazy. And evidently, she also drove my father crazy because they were married and promptly had 11 children. She made a very loving home for us. No fight between siblings could end without hugs and kisses, although hugs never needed a reason in her house. Singing and dancing were encouraged, except at the dinner table. She knew more than her share of tragedy, losing her brother and her husband and three of her sons. But her love for her family and her faith in God somehow gave her the strength not only to go on but to love life without bitterness and instil in all of us a gratitude for every day we have together. And I know it may sound greedy to want more days with a person who lived so long, but the fact that my mother was 92 does not diminish, it only magnifies, the enormity of the room whose door has now quietly shut. In her last days, my mother occasionally became confused, and to try to ground her we asked simple questions, like what’s your favourite colour, what’s your favourite song. She couldn’t answer these. But when asked what her favourite prayer was, she immediately recited A Child’s Prayer, in German, that she used to say to my eldest brothers and sisters at bedtime when they were living in Munich in the late 1940s. Her favourite memory of prayer was a young mother tucking in her children. We were the light of her life, and she let us know it ‘til the end. 

The fact that he went from this straight back to his usual jokey self made it mean more; the sudden mood whiplash caught you by surprise, and I only hope I could write anything half as beautiful. Until then, I’ll just have to settle for watching it here.

5 Of The Worst Comic Book Adaptation Castings

Yes, it’s time for the disappointing sequel to last weeks blog. I would explain what it entails but if you can’t gather what this blog is about from the title then you’re not really our intended audience.

5. Val Kilmer – Batman Forever

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Do I even need to explain why? I mean, look at him! I won’t do the unfair thing of posting a current picture of him and decrying that, I’m looking at a picture of him from the film. Awful, just awful. . Do you know who I blame for this miscasting? Not the director, not even the studio. I blame this man:

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Yup, Ethan f*cking Hawke. Now I know, I blame him for everything, but this time I have justification (unlike the time I blamed for the time I fell over a cat). He was offered the role and turned it down.

4. Jamie Kennedy – Son Of The Mask

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The original film was very much a product of its time, pushing the line between light and darkness, and launching the career of both Cameron Diaz and Jim Carrey. At the time it was the second highest grossing superhero film, and considering that it’s based on an unknown quantity it’s amazing that it took the studios so long to realise that if the film is good enough the fact not enough people know the source won’t matter (a lesson that it could be argued wasn’t truly utilised until Guardians Of The Galaxy in 2014). Now, let me just say here that I do really hate Jim Carrey, but that’s not based on the quality of his work, more the stupid idiotic things he says.

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Things like this

But credit where credit’s due, he’s a good clown. And that’s what this film needs, a clown, someone slightly elastic and otherworldy. And he does that very well. You cannot replace that with Jamie Kennedy, a person who’s done almost nothing of note outside of that E3 omnishambles. So yeah, on this note, Jim Carrey was the better option.

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3. Jim Carrey – Kick Ass 2

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Now this has nothing to do with his performance in the film, which was actually surprisingly good, and everything to do with his promotional work for the film. Which consisted of him disowning the film and telling people not to watch it. His reasoning was that after the Sandy Hook massacre, saying he could no longer support being in a film with that level of violence. Because before Sandy Hook there was never any violence, and certainly no mass shootings. Nope, not, a, single, one.

Whilst I have no doubt that Sandy Hook was a tragedy, for it to be the bit of violence that tips you over the edge is just strange. It’s almost naive to think there was no violence in the world before that, and his reaction is like a school child getting into politics “guys, guys, did you know there was a war years ago?” You read the script, you signed on to do it, in a world that was post-Columbine, post-9/11 etc you knew what you were doing. So for you to not fulfil your duties post-filming is just shameful. If you want your profession to be seen as a proper job, then actually do the thing you’re paid to do.

2 Idris Elba – Thor

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Now this is in no way a slight on his performance, or even a slight on him. In fact it’s the opposite, the reason I oppose this is because he’s too good for such a minimal role. And the fact he’s now such a badly written (barely even) supporting role is an insult to an actor of his quality. Now I don’t want to be a prick and say like “oh, he’s much better than that, proper actors shouldn’t do super hero films”, I just feel he could have played another role. The fact he has already been established in the Marvel Universe means he now can’t move into another role within the universe, one with a bit more gravitas (and screentime).

1. Robert Swenson – Batman And Robin.

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I know, it may be unfair as he’s not an actor. But I remember when it was announced that Tom Hardy was Bane, all that people were talking about was how big a failure the character was in Batman and Robin so this means that the film will surely fail with such a weak character. Now, I know he’s a devastating character in the comics, but most people who would be going to see the film aren’t going to have read the comics. All they will know about the character is what he was like in the film. Part of it was due to the way the character was written, but part of it was due to the casting as well. The fact they didn’t even cast an actual actor, instead casting an overweight wrestler, spoke volumes about how seriously the makers took the character, and it almost killed the chances of the character being taken seriously.