What do we talk about, when we talk about Sonic the Hedgehog? We talk about a Sega video-game character yes, but we also talk about a cultural icon, an exuberant sprite who seems to have no problem making the kind of jump that the likes of Super Mario or Max Payne couldn’t; right into the movies, and catching several gold rings in the process. Sonic the Hedgehog was a hit, pandemic or not, and the huge popularity of Sonic 2 illustrates that there are, for cinema audiences, some things more important than matters of life and death. So put your doubts away and settle back to enjoy the speed-run stylings of Sonic the Hedgehog!
Sonic 2 picks up where the first film left off; Sonic has re-invented himself as a Batman-style crime fighter, and a vigilante. This career-change sits uneasily with his adoptive parents Tom and Maddie Wachowsci (James Marsden and Tika Sumpter), but Sonic persuades them to head for Hawaii and the marriage of Maddie’s sister Rachel. But the sudden emergence of rival echidna Knuckles (Idris Elba) heralds the unwanted return of Sonic’s nemesis, Dr Robotnik (Jim Carrey) and their search for the magical Green Emerald has only just begin…
While the first film was a fairly solid, well-crafted family film, it did have one outrageous breakout sequence; much in the manner of Quicksilver in the X-Men films, Sonic resolves a series of bar-room brawls, sliding around the crowded room to the pulsating rhythms of X Ambassadors Sonic-friendly song Boom. There’s nothing quite that propulsive in Jeff Fowler’s sequel, although parents will appreciate the funky choice of needle-drops from Run DMC’s It’s Tricky to the classic Uptown Funk and Ini Kamozi’s seminal dance-anthem Here’s Comes the Hotstepper. The story is a mess of portals and vortexes, but it’s also laden with entry-level pop culture references, including a Limp Bizkit slam and amusing riffs on everything from Risky Business to Indiana Jones.
‘There are good people on both sides,’ snarls Carrey’s Dr Robotnik, just in case the political subtext wasn’t clear enough; Carrey is clearly having a blast as a moustache-twirling villain described as ‘Professor X meets Monopoly Man’. Shots of Robotnik guzzling popcorn while Sonic and Knuckles fight are decidedly meme friendly, as is the whole slick venture. It’s cynical, it’s commercial, and yet Sonic’s little blue heart is in the right place; any film that climaxes with Sonic reaching his hand to the audience and saying ‘You don’t have to be alone any more’ deserves bonus rings and an extra play for straight-up positive messaging for Easter 2022.