Action Adventure

Review: ‘Sonic the Hedgehog 2’ is a Fun and Fast-Paced Follow-Up that Will Appeal to Fans of All Ages

April 8, 2022Ben MK

The list of laudable video game adaptations is a short one, but fans of Sonic the Hedgehog need not worry. Whereas titles like Street Fighter and Super Mario Bros. have failed to work their magic at the multiplex, Sega's little blue speedster has managed to score major points with moviegoers, making the 16-bit character one of the few pixelated properties to survive the leap from home consoles to the big screen. Now, with Sonic the Hedgehog 2, Sonic (Ben Schwartz) is facing his biggest challenge yet, as he teams up with a newfound ally to go up against an old foe and a formidable new opponent.

Taking place not long after the first installment, the sequel finds Dr. Robotnik (Jim Carrey) marooned on the Mushroom Planet, where he's been plotting his revenge against his arch-nemesis while surviving solely on fungi. Robotnik's ticket back to Earth, however, comes when he uses one of Sonic's quills to generate an energy blast, catching the attention of Knuckles (Idris Elba), a super strong warrior who also happens to be holding a grudge against Sonic. The last of a tribe called the Echidna, Knuckles has been on a lifelong quest to reclaim the Master Emerald, which has the power to turn thoughts into reality. Little do either of them realize that an inventive and feisty fox named Tails (Colleen O'Shaughnessey) has also embarked on his own mission to find Sonic. Only unlike Robotnik and Knuckles, Tails is determined to help Sonic, by warning him of the danger to come.

Meanwhile, back on Earth, Sonic has been living out his superhero fantasy by fighting crime in Seattle as a Batman-like vigilante named Blue Justice; his adoptive parents, Tom (James Marsden) and Maddie (Tika Sumpter), are on their way to Hawaii to attend the wedding of Maddie's sister, Rachel (Natasha Rothwell), and her handsome new beau, Randall (Shemar Moore); and even Robotnik's right-hand man, Agent Stone (Lee Majdoub), has been forced to move on, and is now working as a barista at Green Hills' Mean Bean coffee shop. That relative peace is shattered, however, once Robotnik and Knuckles launch their inevitable attack on Sonic, setting into motion a series of events that sees Sonic and Tails racing against time — and around the world — to beat the villainous duo to the secret location of the Master Emerald. But can Knuckles really trust his new partner? Or will Robotnik's deceptive ways eventually lead to the team-up longtime Sonic fans have been waiting for?

The result may not necessarily surprise, but it's most certainly guaranteed to please, as returning director Jeff Fowler delivers a clever and action-packed follow-up that one-ups its predecessor in virtually every way imaginable. From the colorful set-pieces that bring to life the various levels from the games, to the world-building that introduces such fan-favorite elements as the Guardian Units of Nations, there's no shortage of eye candy and Easter Eggs to keep kids and hardcore fans coming back for a second viewing. That said, the film's standouts are arguably Carrey's scenery-chewing performance as the moustache-twirling Robotnik, whose penchant for impromptu movie quotes is sure to give the adults in the audience a chuckle, and franchise newcomer Elba, who clearly drew inspiration from Dave Bautista's Drax for his portrayal of the overly self-serious Knuckles.

It all adds up to a funny and fast-paced second outing that once again disproves the rule of thumb concerning the quality of video game-based blockbusters. Still, what's most surprising about Sonic the Hedgehog 2 is that it even exists in the first place. As the old saying goes, they don't make 'em like this anymore. And even though we've come a long way from the 1990s, it's always fun to see a film embrace the spirit of days gone speedily by — albeit while crafting a cinematic universe that would make some of today's movie studios green with envy.

Sonic the Hedgehog 2 releases April 8th, 2022 from Paramount Pictures. The film has an MPAA rating of PG for action, some violence, rude humor, and mild language. Its runtime is 2 hrs. 2 min.

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