After pulling close to $320 million at the worldwide box office in 2020 just before the pandemic hit, it was no surprise to see a sequel to ‘Sonic the Hedgehog‘ was greenlit so quickly. Doing justice to the iconic SEGA character that has delighted gamers for over 30 years now, his legacy is up there with Nintendo’s Super Mario as a stalwart of classic console gaming. Having spawned numerous games, cartoons, and comics, it’s only right that everyone’s favourite hedgehog takes Hollywood by storm too. This sequel follows nicely on from the first film, and finds our hero facing his biggest battle yet.
Anyone who stayed until the end credits of the first film will know that this time around, Sonic (‘Parks and Recreation’s Ben Schwartz) will be joined by his iconic pal Tails (voiced by Colleen O’Shaughnessey) to take on Jim Carrey’s scene stealing Dr Robotnik once again. But this time he’s brought along some muscle, namely Knuckles the Echidna (Idris Elba). There’s a race against time to find a magical emerald that has the power to build or destroy entire civilizations, so can Sonic save the day, even though he’s promised Tom (James Marsden) and Maddie (Tika Sumpter) that he’s going to have a quiet, uneventful weekend devoid of trouble?
Ben Schwartz returns to voice Sonic and he’s a joy to watch. Schwartz even manages to throw in a great Jean-Ralphio joke in there too, which will delight all Parks and Recreation fans like myself! Of the new recruits, Colleen O’Shaughnessey does well as Tails but it’s no surprise that Idris Elba absolutely shines as Knuckles the Echidna. Elba is superb throughout and adds genuine threat to the film. The movie manages to really showcase how great an opponent he is to Sonic, and their first 2 fights are done exceptionally well. Elba is the best thing in ‘Sonic the Hedgehog 2’.
Humans caught in the crossfire once again include James Marsden and Tika Sumpter, who once again are both very likable and watchable onscreen. If anything, the film could have used them much more. The film’s best sequence involves them attending a Hawaiian wedding for their friend Rachel (Natasha Rothwell). I won’t give anything away but it’s both funny and exciting, and allows for a lot of great comedic moments, especially from Marsden. And speaking of comedy, screen legend Jim Carrey once again steals all of his scenes as Dr. Ivo Robotnik. He brings boundless energy and genuine enthusiasm to the role which helps elevate the whole movie. Again, I’d have liked to have seen Carrey used a bit more in this second film.
There’s decent support in the form of Shemar Moore, who plays Rachels buff but mysterious new fiancé. Adam Pally returns as the hapless sheriff Wade and Lee Majdoub returns as Agent Stone, who has now become a barista and pines for the return of his beloved boss.
At the core of this film is a lot of genuine heart. The success of the first ‘Sonic’ film (and now the franchise) is squarely down to the relationship between Sonic and Tom. That’s where all of the good intention stems from, and it makes the family-adventure aspect of the film much more enjoyable. So Tom’s absence through most of this second movie is noticeable. Hopefully a third film keeps the human element more prevalent going forward, otherwise it’s just one CGI set-piece after another.
‘Sonic the Hedgehog 2’ is a fun family adventure that’s perfect for retro gamers and new fans alike. There’s enough here to keep the little ones amused, the action set-pieces are entertaining and the cast all try their hardest to elevate the script. At over 2 hours though, the film is noticeably too long and the premise is spread quite thin – it could have done with being at least 20mins shorter, and perhaps losing an overlong dance sequence that really didn’t add anything to the plot. And don’t rule out a ‘Sonic the Hedgehog 3’ either – fans should stay for the end credits for a brief teaser glimpse at what’s coming up!
Cast: Ben Schwartz, James Marsden, Jim Carrey, Idris Elba, Tika Sumpter, Natasha Rothwell, Colleen O’Shaughnessey, Adam Pally, Shemar Moore, Lee Majdoub Director: Jeff Fowler Writer: Pat Casey, Josh Miller, John Whittington Certificate: PG Duration: 122 mins Released by: Paramount Release date: 1st April 2021