Super Mario Brothers. Doom. Assassins Creed. House of the Dead. What do all of these video games have in common. Well, they have movies based off of them, and they are all terrible. That’s kind of a trend with these video game movies. No one has really cracked the code on how to make one that both satisfies diehard fans and appeals to general audiences. But a certain blue rodent is making strides to change that narrative and make one of the first successful film franchises based off of a video game. Is it working?
The original Sonic the Hedgehog film was one of the first movies I reviewed when I was just getting started with The Martini Shot. As a fan of many of the games from the 90s and early 2000s, I was happy the film managed to at least be entertaining, even though it had some glaring issues. This time around the film has managed to improve in several areas, such as integration of classic Sonic lore and a far more adventurous and action-packed plot more akin to some of my favorite Sonic games. However, the film does find itself spinning its wheels without moving forward in some regards, with lackluster story beats that struggle to give the film it’s own identity among the catalogue of others of its kind. It’s certainly has found a formula that has been able to satisfy lifelong fans and general audiences alike, but it does make me wonder how long they can ride this speed train until everyone winds up growing bored.
When we jump back into Sonic’s story, we find him living cozy with his adoptive human parents while moonlighting as a superhero…to little success. While Sonic is learning the true meaning of what it means to be a hero, his arch nemesis Doctor Robotnik returns from his cosmic banishment in tow with a new ally, the warrior Knuckles the Echidna. Knuckles’ tribe was wiped out, leaving him as the last of his kind, and he views Sonic as partially responsible. Both parties discover the existence of a mystical artifact called the Master Emerald that can grant the user unlimited power, so the race is on for Sonic and his new buddy Tails to find the emerald before Robotnik can use it to conquer the world.
One of my biggest issues with the original Sonic the Hedgehog film was that, at its core, it didn’t really feel like what a Sonic movie should be. The history of the blue blur is filled with tons of fun characters, breathtaking locations, and a little bit of Dragon Ball plagiarism. But the first film felt too much like the human/anthro-animal buddy films we’ve seen countless times. As a longtime Sonic fan I am happy to report that this film takes much bigger strides towards embracing the identity of the series by introducing more iconic characters and fleshing out the universe as a whole. Sonic is joined by his trusty buddy Miles “Tails” Prower (voiced by longtime Tails voice actor Colleen O’Shaughnessy), and their relationship feels ripped straight from the games. He’s kind of a nerd and idolizes Sonic for his bravery, and while that doesn’t lead to much of an interesting character arc, it’s nothing if not entirely faithful to the games. However the best new addition to the crew is certainly Knuckles, voiced by Idris Elba. Honor bound, prideful and hot headed, this incarnation of Knuckles as a rival turned eventual ally is also fairly accurate to the games. Elba’s deliveries make the character hilarious to follow, and his arc over the course of the film is pretty standard, but at least it’s actually there. The returning cast is fine for the most part, but again, the one who more or less carries the film is Jim Carrey’s Doctor Robotnik. Now even more unhinged than he was in the first film, Robotnik is still the scene stealer that I just want to see more of. When the story focuses on Sonic, Tails, Knuckles and Robotnik is when the film is at its best, but unfortunately the pacing does get slogged down with side-stories involving the other human characters having a wedding in Hawaii. There are some funny moments sure, but overall this B-plot adds nothing to the story and probably could have been trimmed down or even cut out entirely, along with an overly long dance number that just seems par for the course with some of these kids movies.
The story is still fairly predictable because it is a kids film after all, but I did happen to find this film to be less funny than the first. The first film had some genuinely offbeat, kind of adult humor thrown in there that still sticks in my mind, like Robotnik talking about his “egg sack” and never being breastfed. Here, a lot of the jokes kind of come down to pop culture references that don’t really land well. Essentially, there’s not as much of a balance between humor for kids and adults as the first. Additionally, I still find it weird how these films seem to shun the music from the games, tunes so iconic that people continue to listen to them to this day, for generic movie studio music and popular radio hits. The Sonic music library is chock full of inspiration and nostalgia that could be introduced to new audiences and help make the film stand out, but the music that was chosen is largely forgettable.
At the end of the day I feel about the same for this film as I did for the first. While I think the story this time around is more fun and feels closer to what I like about Sonic, the writing does feel significantly weaker and the focus on the side characters does make the film longer than it really needs to be. The future certainly looks bright for the franchise, raking in billions of dollars and still sitting fairly pretty with audiences and critics alike. I think the franchise is on the right track to satisfy all audiences and I’m open to seeing more in the future, especially with that post credit scene.
This film also only has only one instance of flossing rather than two like the first, so at least it has that going for it.
If you’ve been following the blog way back in the day, you’ll know that I covered the first film and paired it with the lovely Blue Blur cocktail. This time around I’m giving the series’ newest character, Knuckles the Echidna, a drink of his very own! Again keeping with the tropical tone that the Sonic the Hedgehog video game series reminds me of, I’ve decided to crafted a red, fruity rum punch (get it?) that combines many different fruit flavors into a refreshing, slightly creamy cocktail. In typical rum punch fashion, I have opted for 2 different rums, deciding on banana and coconut. This is a bit of a departure from tradition, but the pairing of these two flavors naturally blends very well and seemed apt for the drink. For the body, I have kept the traditional pineapple juice but have subbed out the orange juice for cranberry juice. This is done to give the drink it’s own, unique flavor profile and make it akin to the hard-headed echidna that inspired the drink. There are two whole shots of rum in this easy-to-drink concoction, so be mindful of your honor!
- 1.5oz coconut rum
- 1.5oz banana rum
- 2oz pineapple juice
- 1oz cranberry juice
- 1/4oz lime juice
- 1/2oz grenadine
- Add all ingredients to a shaker and shake with ice.
- Pour into a glass filled with ice.