Sonic the Hedgehog 2 Review: Excellent For The Fans And No One Else
Sonic the Hedgehog 2 is better than the first one in that it leans into the aspects of the games and the mythos that fans of a Sonic movie want to see, but for those who aren't interested, there isn't much here and no reason to seek this one out, which is fine.
Director: Jeff Fowler
Summary: When the manic Dr. Robotnik returns to Earth with a new ally, Knuckles the Echidna, Sonic and his new friend Tails is all that stands in their way.
Sonic the Hedgehog was a weird movie that benefited from hitting at the right time, with the right audience, and being one of the few movies to see the inside of a movie theater in 2020. Paramount has been all too happy to greenlight a sequel and even a third movie and a spin-0ff series before Sonic the Hedgehog 2 saw the light of day this weekend. That is probably the right call since all of the things here that fans loved about the first movie are amped up to eleven in the sequel. We get more cute little creatures running around and the introduction of some of the most iconic imagery from the series to boot. That will be enough for plenty of fans of the series, and the last half hour or so, is going to be a dream for longtime fans. And if that's all you want from a movie like this, which is entirely acceptable for a film like this, then you're probably going to walk away happy from this. And if you have a child who is a fan, they will walk away from this losing their damn minds.
However, the rest of the movie is kind of a mess. The problem with films like Sonic the Hedgehog 2 and many adaptations that bring classic cartoon characters into live-action is honestly the live-action bits. You aren't going to a Sonic movie to see James Marsden, yet there he is popping up all the time and doing these little subplots that add very little to the entire thing. The second act, in particular, is almost entirely focused on the human characters, and the problem is that none of the human characters are really worth hanging out with. No one here is doing anything particularly special, which, again, is about what you expect from a movie like this. That being said, you would think that the filmmakers would use the human characters sparingly since the cartoon animated characters are what people showed up for, but that is not the case. We've been making this mistake for years; from The Smurfs to all of the Transformers movies [minus Bumblebee, which is awesome, don't @ me], all of these movies seem to think we're going to care about these human characters when that isn't why we showed up at all.
It drags the runtime of Sonic the Hedgehog 2, which should be a breezy ninety minutes, to just over two hours. While the kids in the particular screening this critic attended seemed to be engaged the entire time, that's a gamble and one that didn't need to be taken. There had to be better ways to try and ground these characters and make us care about them saving the world than all of this wedding nonsense that feels like it goes on forever. When the Sonic movie remembers that it's a Sonic movie and not a wacky wedding comedy, that's when the final third act kicks in, and things start to really be a lot of fun. It's just the lead-up to all of that is miserably long when it really doesn't need to be.
There are some standout moments. Idris Elba did not show up and sleep through this role when he very easily could have, which is awesome. He makes Knuckles a rather compelling "fish out of water" character that is amusing but not an idiot. As previously stated, the entire third act is pretty awesome and is honestly worth the price of admission all on its own when it comes to "things that will make fans and small children insanely happy to watch." Lee Majdoub steals every single scene he is in, and his little gay crush on Robotnik, while played for laughs, doesn't feel meanspirited or homophobic, which is such a low bar to clear, but that's the world we live in these days.
Sonic the Hedgehog 2 exists for the substantial fanbase, and there is nothing wrong with that. It also means that there isn't much of a reason for people who aren't into this already to seek this out, but there was a decent chance that they probably weren't planning to begin with. There is clearly an audience for this thing, and if the reaction if my screening of the mid-credits scene was anything to go by, fans are counting down the days for part three already. Good for those fans; they are going to love every second of this. As for everyone else? Probably not going to be your thing and not going to be the thing that converts you either.