Review: ‘Sonic 2’ succeeds where predecessor fell short

Best video game movie made up to this point? The argument can certainly be made with this one.

In the new “Sonic” adventure, the blue blur (Ben Schwartz) is trying to play the role of a hero but is finding out that he still has some learning to do. Meanwhile, Dr. Robotnik (Jim Carrey) managed to get off the planet he was banished to in the first film thanks to a new partnership with Knuckles (Idris Elba), an echidna warrior who has a grudge against Sonic.

That grudge is based on a historic conflict between the echidnas and the owl tribe, which Sonic was connected to since he was raised by Longclaw in the first movie. Sonic gets a warning about the new threat of Robotnik and Knuckles from a new friend, though, named Miles “Tails” Prower (Colleen Shaughnessey). From there, the two factions battle with each other with an ancient hidden power on the line.

The first “Sonic” film released in 2020 was a disappointment. While it featured a fantastical character, the film’s story felt far too pedestrian, being little more than a buddy road movie.

It also seemed to a bit too much about the human characters and not as dedicated to the titular character. Not this time around, “Sonic the Hedgehog 2” gets it right.

The adventure this time is fully focused on Sonic and introduces key characters from the game franchise. Not only does the film expand the lore and set the protagonists off on a much more exciting journey, it also gives Sonic characters to interact with who fit the mold much better.

Sonic forming a friendship with Tails and developing a rivalry with Knuckles as the characters travel the world is entirely more enjoyable than seeing the Sega icon interacting with James Marsden’s Sheriff Tom.

Courtesy Paramount Pictures.

That’s not to say the human characters don’t have a space in the series. There are even some really good moments with Tom, for example, him teaching Sonic about being a better hero early on is a highlight.

However, this film knows its main character is Sonic and the major supporting characters are Knuckles and Tails, and properly limits the time spent on the human characters. In fact, the one lowlight of the movie is an extended sequence with Natasha Rothwell’s character Rachel dealing with her wedding, which was interrupted by the protagonist.

Adaptation-wise, this movie pretty much has all the Sonic stuff a fan (me included) would want. Knuckles and Tails being fast but not as fast as Sonic? Check. Robotnik having a big Egg Robot? Yup. Knuckles fighting Sonic where his strength helps him compete with the Blue Blur? Yes. The chaos emeralds introducing a new form for Sonic? You bet.

While all of this stuff from the game is featured, though, it doesn’t ever feel shoved in. The movie introduces these aspects in a well paced manner and those who haven’t played the games should be just as entertained by the developments on screen.

The “Sonic” sequel works great as a family feature, too. There are a lot of fun moments, such as Sonic and Tails having to team up for a dance off they find themselves in. The film is lighthearted, and has a good amount of humor while still taking itself seriously enough that one is engaged by what’s developing.

The middle of “Sonic 2” gets a little rough with a wedding sub-plot and some of the pop culture references can be a bit excessive. However, this is still a really enjoyable feature for fans and non-fans alike. 4 out of 5.

Author: Matthew Liedke

Journalist and film critic in Minnesota. Graduate of Rainy River College and Minnesota State University in Moorhead. Outside of movies I also enjoy sports, craft beers and the occasional video game.

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