Movies

The Entire Plot Of ‘Sonic The Hedgehog’ Recreated From Baffled Reviews

No need to sugarcoat it, the internet has been eager to dunk on the new Sonic The Hedgehog movie for months. The response to the trailer was so brutal that the studio actually sent the lead character back for a redesign. The new and improved film speeds into theaters this weekend, and in a shocking turn of events, it turns out that the redesign might not have helped. Once again proving that the only thing worse than a studio pandering to “fans” is a studio actually listening to them.

Perhaps I’m being overly harsh. The film is currently tracking in the mid-60s on RottenTomatoes, which I think we can all agree is a lot higher than expected! Reading the reviews though, it seems clear that this score is less the result of genuine enthusiasm than the kind of thing that happens when you force-feed yourself something you assume will be revolting only to find that it’s merely unpleasant. I knew it was bad when more than one of the positive reviews compared it to the most recent Tomb Raider, a movie so bland and pointless I started forgetting before it was even over like something out of Memento.

As often happens, reading the critical dispatches from Sonic seem more entertaining than the film itself. So we turn to Plot Recreated With Reviews, in which we attempt to piece together the entire plot of a movie using only expository quotes from reviews.


THE SETUP

After an opening tease to a climactic chase later in the movie — which literally is couched in a freeze-frame of Sonic (voiced by Ben Schwartz), running from an explosion and delivering a line akin to “Yep, that’s me, and you’re probably wondering how I ended up in this situation” — Sonic the Hedgehog takes a short journey into the blue blur’s past. (Mashable)

As a youngster, Sonic is told to hide on Earth by his surrogate mother, a protective owl, so faceless bad guys will not capture him and take away the power built into each of his blue spikes. (SlashFilm)

Some evil echidnas show up, and Sonic’s beloved mentor, Longclaw — an owl who shows up in the prologue and is then never seen again — gives him a sack full of magic rings that allows him to teleport through space and time. (Indiewire)

Thus Sonic the Hedgehog establishes that Sonic is an alien from a different planet than humans, which contradicts every game and show in Sonic’s history. (Mashable)

Sonic lives peacefully, but with growing loneliness, for a decade on Earth in a small Montana town called Green Hills. (SlashFilm)

(his master’s dying words: “Never stop running.” Great life advice. Thanks, Longclaw). (Indiewire)

A bit of an urban legend in town – the resident weirdos think they’ve seen a “blue devil” – Sonic enjoys hiding among the populace in his forest man cave (complete with Flash comics), helping at times but also having fun with local sheriff Tom Wachowski (James Marsden)…

…a kindly fellow who feels underutilized serving as a crossing guard for a family of ducks (Seattle Times)

…whom Sonic deems “Doughnut Lord” for the sugary treats he munches. (USA Today)

Sonic leads a solitary existence, using his turbocharged tootsies to give a lift to a traumatized turtle and to play all the positions on a baseball field at once. He fondly spies on the sheriff and his wife (Tika Sumpter) while they watch “Speed.” (NYTimes)

Sonic, you remember, is very very fast. (RogersMovieNation)

Early on, he dashes around to the tune of Queen’s “Don’t Stop Me Now,” which gives you a preview of the film’s product-tie-in idea of cleverness. (Variety)

Disabling Sonic with a tranquilizer dart allows the cop to slow the creature down enough to allow the two to get acquainted. They bond. (Seattle Times)

Tom aspires for a bigger life, and is thinking about relocating to San Francisco for a job with the SFPD. Sonic, who depends on Tom for his entertainment, is horrified at the thought; it’s like his favorite TV show is on the brink of cancellation, and only he can save it. (Indiewire)

Eventually, Sonic’s high-speed, energy-producing running causes a power surge (Slant) that kills the electrical grid. (Seattle Times)

THE CONFLICT

This alerts the U.S. government to something strange in the Pacific Northwest, which leads them to (for no good reason, as the film all but admits) call in the very strange and very smart Dr. Robotnik (Jim Carrey) (SlashFilm)

…a freelance machine wizard. (Variety)

Robotnik very quickly reveals himself to be power-mad and insane, and hellbent on catching Sonic (SlashFilm) to find out what makes him tick — by dissection, if necessary. (Seattle Times)

JIM CARREY WAS GOOD THO

Carrey, wearing a big waxed mustache out of an old Western, a long black coat with a lining of satanic red, and a haircut that can only be described as a Hitler fade, does a vintage Carrey turn — which is to say, he could have given the exact same performance in 1998, and maybe did. (Variety)

Carrey overacts so strenuously that you fear he’ll rupture something as he plays the raving egomaniac. (Seattle Times)

He lunges at each line like a starving animal, pulling rubber faces and jutting his limbs in angular motions as he says every other word with an exaggerated pronunciation. (Slant)

(imagine a cross between The Riddler, Tony Stark, and an out-of-control leather fetish) (Indiewire)

From consistently quirky line deliveries… (Empire)

“I’m the TOP BANANA in a world of hungry little monkeys!” (RogersMovieNation)

…to a weird yet entertaining dance sequence, this is easily the funniest the veteran comedian has been on screen in a long while. (Empire)

He whistles “Ride of the Valkyries” as he tracks the alien. He threatens humans like the sheriff, but begins with insults.

“I was spitting out formulas while you were spitting UP formula!” (RogersMovieNation)

Carrey gives his cartoon villain the full treatment: darting eyes, twirlable moustache, withering superiority complex, and movements so balletically exaggerated they verge on interpretive dance. He’s far more animated than Sonic. And far too good for this. (TheGuardian)

ROAD TRIP

Following a series of plot complications not worth recounting, Sonic guilt-trips Officer Wachowski into a road trip to San Fran, Robotnik and his gadgets in hot pursuit. Why does someone who can cross the whole country on foot in maybe a matter of minutes need a ride? Well, he doesn’t know where he’s going, the script half-assedly rationalizes. (AV Club)

Now you’re probably thinking: “This all makes perfect sense. Nothing says ‘Sonic the Hedgehog’ like a road trip to California. Why wouldn’t you take a character known for running at Mach speed and trap him in the passenger seat of a Dodge RAM?” (Indiewire)

How did an adventure saga about a mystical hedgehog who battles with armies of aliens get turned into an odd-couple road-trip movie? Why would anyone want to see Sonic, who is best known for doing loop-the-loops through neon assault courses, sit in the passenger seat of a pickup truck and trade aimless banter with a highway patrolman? (TheAtlantic)

So they set off on a road trip, during which Tom complains that Sonic talks too much. (TimeOut)

SONIC THE JERK

And so the chase is on, with stops at a biker bar (insert bar fight) and San Francisco (insert chase through city streets here) while Carrey’s doctor sics flocks of high-tech killer drones (they’re like the weaponized droids in “RoboCop,” except that they look like flying humidifiers), after the fleeing twosome. (Seattle Times/Variety)

What was your favourite level in the Sonic the Hedgehog video games? The one in which Sonic was hunted with machine guns and sniffer dogs in an alpine forest? Or perhaps the one in which Sonic visited a roadside dive bar, tried line dancing, played darts and brawled with Hell’s Angels? (Telegraph)

They’re an odd couple rotely snarky enough to make your lids droop. (Variety)

Schwartz takes the same approach to Sonic as Ryan Reynolds did with Detective Pikachu last year — by making the famous video-game character helplessly annoying for most of the movie. Presumably, it’s not really Schwartz’s fault that his dialogue sucks, but boy does it. (MidwestFilmJournal)

Sonic, theoretically sympathetic for his alien-orphan backstory, is actually kind of a selfish prick—when not starting bar fights just for the experience, he’s getting all judgmental about his new companion’s career aspirations. At best, Tom seems to begrudgingly tolerate the hedgehog. (AVClub)

CONSTRUCTION

The CG isn’t ever fully believable — Marsden, as gifted an actor as he is, sometimes seems like he’s looking a foot above Sonic’s head when interacting with the blue dude — but it’s not horrifying. (SlashFilm)

Any movie pairing a live-wire animated character and a straight-faced human had better have something fresh to say after Who Framed Roger Rabbit, but Sonic really doesn’t. Rather than Roger Rabbit, its chief inspiration is more likely last year’s Detective Pikachu. (TheGuardian)

The basic plot trajectory recalls the superior Transformers spinoff Bumblebee, while the tech-wielding Robotnik is just a thin, villainous facsimile of Tony Stark. In a pile-up of similarities that damn Sonic by comparison, there’s an effects-laden chase through San Francisco that can’t match up to the one in Ant-Man and the Wasp. (TimeOut)

Sonic’s ability to freeze time then dart about rearranging things before starting it again, for example, is clearly indebted to QuickSilver’s antics in the X-Men movies. (TheGuardian)

WHAT ABOUT THE REDESIGN?

Sonic certainly looks good in Sonic the Hedgehog, and nothing about the design makes it feel rushed or out of place in the movie. (Mashable)

Sonic now resembles a cartoon hedgehog instead of a spray-painted marmot. (NY Times)

But he talks like the ultimate gratingly overfamiliar cartoon smart aleck — a little snide, a little nerdy, with a mild whine of attitude, though essentially he’s voiced to sound like your pal, as if the film had concocted some sort of vocal smoothie out of Garfield and Fritz the Cat and Owen Wilson and Patton Oswalt. (Variety)

With an awful-looking protagonist, it might have been bad enough to actually start to become good. (Mashable)

Without that visual horror, all it has is a “Well, I guess I’m here” performance by James Marsden and a parade of terrible one-liners that already feel outdated (MidwestFilmJournal)

…a nattering chore of a “family” comedy that feels written by committee and directed by indifferent machine. (AV Club)

Is Keanu still the internet’s boyfriend? I thought we were over that already. (MidwestFilmJournal)

Sonic talks a mile a minute, narrating his story with a snarky, hip, been-there-done-that vibe that reflects what happens when a punch-up room full of comedy writers try their hardest to get at least one of their one-liners in the script. (SlashFilm)

Sure, there are some fun jokes and some references to classic Sonic stuff, like his love of chili dogs.
(Mashable)

At one point, Dr. Robotnik launches a drone by saying: “Look what came out of my egg sac.” (Indiewire)

The jokes are almost all uniformly awful, following a formula of some zany thing happening and a character merely describing aloud what just happened in an incredulous voice. (Slant)

PRODUCT PLACEMENT

It’s only during the film’s many egregious moments of product placement that it seems to discover any kind of sincere personality; after all, Sonic is nothing if not a natural-born saleshog. (Indiewire)

Sonic the Hedgehog is a movie that references Olive Garden twice, and does so with nary a wink at the camera. (SlashFilm)

There’s a scene where Tom’s wife Maddie mentions she’s been looking at apartments online, and we get a shot of her laptop screen open to a particular real estate website as she says the company’s name. It feels like it was pulled from a commercial. (Mashable)

The film plugs Amazon, Zillow, and Olive Garden in the span of a single scene, without a trace of irony… (Indiewire)

…bad Uber jokes (AV Club)

…the preponderance of pop-culture references in this film is nonstop, even during action sequences. You may laugh, for example, when some of Dr. Robotnik’s drones attack Tom’s house, Sonic tries to wrestle one to the ground, shouting, “Can you believe Amazon wanted to deliver packages with these?” (SlashFilm)

That manufactured yet arbitrary ethos is best exemplified by the cringeworthy Olive Garden moment, which I kept turning over in my head as the movie continued. Why couldn’t they broker a deal with Sonic Drive-In? I wondered. That would’ve made more sense. (TheAtlantic)

AT LEAST IT WAS SHORT

The movie inevitably ends with a post-credit scene that teases — you’ll never believe it — the future appearance of another character from the video game franchise. Marvel has broken all of our brains. (Indiewire)

Echoes from another century made bland digital flesh. (Irish Times)

Anyway, sounds great! I hope we can all look forward to many more films based on videogames from the nineties.

‘Sonic the Hedgehog’ is currently playing in theaters. Vince Mancini is on Twitter. More reviews here.

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