For a game series as inconsistent as Sonic the Hedgehog, the Blue Blur’s 2020 debut onto the silver screen proved to be a safe but inoffensive showing. Sonic the Hedgehog 2, like its Genesis/Megadrive counterpart, introduces audiences to Tails the Fox and Sonic 3’s Knuckles the Echidna while simultaneously fleshing out original concepts introduced in the first movie with regard to Sonic’s past.
Thankfully, unlike the 2020 film, Sonic the Hedgehog 2 ups the ante considerably, borrowing elements from classic Sonic titles and the Adventure series of games, respectively. Examples include subtle nods like exploding manhole covers during the opening sequence, echoing the intro cinematics of Sonic Adventure, to elaborate set pieces that recreate entire levels reminiscent of Sonic 2 and 3.
The film balances scenes that give both Sonic, reprised by actor Ben Schwartz (Parks & Recreation, The Afterparty) and his furry friends (and enemies) enough screen time while still providing enough for the live-action segments to feel cohesive and well-realized. Sonic the Hedgehog 2 opens with the titular character still learning to adjust to life on Earth in the fictional town of Green Hills.
“Sonic the Hedgehog 2 ups the ante considerably…”
Of course, Sonic, being who he is, shakes things up by creating a superhero persona for himself in a self-serving manner, ultimately causing more harm than good. The film uses this point almost immediately to teach Sonic (and younger audiences alike) a lesson about what being a hero truly means via James Marsden’s (Hairspray, Superman Returns) character Tom, Sonic’s surrogate human father-figure.
From here, Sonic the Hedgehog 2 moves at a brisk pace (no pun intended) in progressing the plot forward. As portrayed by Tika Sumpter (The Old Man & The Gun, Ride Along), Maddie and Tom, are whisked away to Rachel’s wedding in Hawaii via a Dr Strange-style ring portal, giving Sonic plenty of time to get into trouble while left to his own devices.
Speaking of Rachel, Natasha Rothwell (Saturday Night Live, Insecure) steals the show in terms of the human characters present in the film. Sonic the Hedgehog 2 fleshes out Rachel by giving her several key scenes within the film, particularly during her wedding in Hawaii.
The introduction of Colleen O’Shaughnessey (Danny Phantom, Digimon Adventure Tri) as Tails is handled well enough, if not a bit abruptly, without much setup. Tail’s is portrayed as kind of an analogue for the audience, especially that of a super fan, with the two-tailed fox being enamoured with Sonic’s exploits from the 2020 film as the impetus in him seeking the hedgehog out. He aims to warn him of the return of Jim Carrey’s (Saturday Night Live, Dumb and Dumber) Dr Robotnik.
“Sonic the Hedgehog 2 outruns the first film by leaps and bounds and can easily be considered the best video game to feature film adaptation yet.”
Despite her sudden appearance in Sonic’s life, O’Shaughnessey brings a great sense of energy mixed with the sheepish yet inquisitive nature of the young and brilliant mind that is Tails Miles Prower. Equally, Idris Elba’s Knuckles is fantastic and creates a sense of depth that the character has never had, outside perhaps that of the comics, one that bolsters both his feisty temperament with his misaligned and brutish persona.
In essence, the acting and delivery present within Sonic the Hedgehog 2 is excellent. However, if you’re expecting the writing to live up to the expectations of an adult, then you may find the film meandering through too many sugar-coated loops and forced moments that try and reinforce that, yes, this is a movie aimed at younger audiences, and that it must impart family values at very opportunity available.
Regardless, suppose you’re a fan of Sonic in any capacity. In that case, Sonic the Hedgehog 2 outruns the first film by leaps and bounds and can easily be considered the best video game to feature film adaptation yet.