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"Sonic the Hedgehog 2" Review (2022): The Master Emerald of Family Friendly Entertainment

Certified critic on Rotten Tomatoes. Member of the Houston Film Critics Society. Also writes for Bounding Into Comics and GeeksHaveGame.

One of several theatrical one-sheets for "Sonic the Hedgehog 2."

One of several theatrical one-sheets for "Sonic the Hedgehog 2."

Like Robotnik Says, Earth is Full of Idiots

Sonic the Hedgehog 2 is a weird sequel. It improves upon the original film in just about every way, but it also features some of the most unbearable material in any film released so far this year.

Dr. Robotnik (Jim Carrey), who is now bald and sports a mustache that is almost 100% video game accurate, hatches a plan to escape The Mushroom Planet and return to Earth to get his revenge on Sonic. As his plan unfolds almost exactly as he envisioned it, Robotnik encounters a red echidna named Knuckles (voiced by Idris Elba). Knuckles believes Sonic knows where the Master Emerald is. The seven Chaos Emeralds unite to form the Master Emerald (they existed separately in the games) and whoever is in possession of the Master Emerald literally has chaos at their fingertips.

Meanwhile, Sonic has been trying to use his super speed as a hero on Earth. As Robotnik and Knuckles arrive and gang up on him, Sonic is saved by a fox with two tails named Miles Prower, better known as Tails (voiced by Colleen O’Shaughnessey). Sonic and Tails team up to try to find the Master Emerald before Robotnik and Knuckles, travelling around the world for something that Sonic always believed was just a myth.

The general consensus about the original Sonic the Hedgehog film is that there isn’t enough Sonic. In the sequel, the Sonic sequences outweigh anything revolving around any human character that isn’t Robotnik. However, this doesn’t change the fact that just about anything that isn’t entirely focused on Sonic, Tails, or Knuckles is outright trash. Tom (James Marsden) and Maddie (Tika Sumpter) travel to Hawaii for Maddie’s sister's wedding (Natasha Rothwell as Rachel). Tom spends most of his time trying to impress Rachel’s fiancé, Randall (Shemar Moore), and his generic, idiot groomsmen.

Sonic (voiced by Ben Schwartz) tries to be a hero in "Sonic the Hedgehog 2."

Sonic (voiced by Ben Schwartz) tries to be a hero in "Sonic the Hedgehog 2."

Thrilling and Nostalgic

Maddie and Rachel outclass an entire army of federal agents in the second half of the film because a bride was scorned on her wedding day. The human characters in these two Sonic films seem to be trying way too hard. It could just be how they’re written because Wade (Adam Pally) is seriously dumber than a box of hammers.

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That’s not to say the humans don’t serve their purpose. Sonic the Hedgehog 2 is mostly about family and choosing who gets to be part of your tight-knit group whenever you’re away from home. Most of the characters are trying to find their confidence. Sonic finds his footing as a hero and Tails learns to be a confident adventurer. Even though some may view you as a “weird freak,” those unusual quirks that are unlike anyone else are what make you unique. It basically feels like Sonic is a teenager here. He’s technically still a kid, but he’s at that age where he feels like he’s an adult and wants to be treated as one.

Sonic's new friend, Tails (voiced by Colleen O'Shaughnessey), in "Sonic the Hedgehog 2."

Sonic's new friend, Tails (voiced by Colleen O'Shaughnessey), in "Sonic the Hedgehog 2."

The dance fight sequence begins as a train wreck since it seems to highlight the only reason they put people in movies where a CGI creature is the star: to act like a clown and get laughs. The dance fight begins with very few redeeming qualities, until it suddenly takes on new meaning. Seeing Sonic and Tails dancing to Bruno Mars unlocks pivotal moments of your childhood.

While this might not work for many actors, it's an environment that Jim Carrey has always thrived in. He recently said in interviews that he is looking to retire from acting. If this is his last film, or one of his last, then Robotnik is the perfect send off. Carrey is completely hamming it up, overexaggerated and over the top. You can tell that he's having a blast.

Robotnik (Jim Carrey) returns from The Mushroom Planet with revenge on his mind in "Sonic the Hedgehog 2."

Robotnik (Jim Carrey) returns from The Mushroom Planet with revenge on his mind in "Sonic the Hedgehog 2."

The Special Effects are the Film's Not-So-Hidden Gem

Audiences are going to love Knuckles. He takes dialogue at face value and is far too serious, but his ignorance of Earth is what makes him so charming. The entire snowboarding sequence where Sonic is dodging lasers down the mountain is pure cinematic bliss. I loved that Sonic and Knuckles fighting in the temple is straight out of the second and third Sonic the Hedgehog video games. The final twenty minutes of the film -- including the after-credits sequence -- is goosebump-inducing. Robotnik is menacing, Sonic and his friends unite in a formidable way, and it’s a visual feast with solid writing. Apart from a few under-par sequences likely done in post-production, the CGI in Sonic the Hedgehog 2 is top notch. Sonic’s wet quills after he falls in the lake or the meticulous sand granules after he and Knuckles wash up on the beach are prime examples of the movie's detailed special effects.

Even with its flaws, Sonic the Hedgehog 2 is the best video game adaptation ever.

Sonic the Hedgehog 2 embraces the nostalgia of Sega Genesis and the essence of the 90s with a film that is fun for everyone of all ages. Audiences will adore the new characters, the action is a memorable throwback to what we loved about the games, and the special effects are top notch. Even with its flaws, Sonic the Hedgehog 2 is the best video game adaptation ever.

Knuckles (voiced by Idris Elba) is determined to put a stop to Sonic once and for all in "Sonic the Hedgehog 2."

Knuckles (voiced by Idris Elba) is determined to put a stop to Sonic once and for all in "Sonic the Hedgehog 2."

© 2022 Chris Sawin

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