This is an editorial piece. The opinions expressed here are solely those of the author and are not associated with our newsroom.
SALT LAKE CITY — In May of 2019, a Sonic the Hedgehog redesign was announced after an overwhelming amount of criticism from fans. Why? The design in the trailers did not resemble the beloved video game character. Though many may have been surprised by this announcement, it may have just given false hope for a film that would prove to be mediocre at best.
Hollywood has always struggled with adapting video games to the big screen
I remember as a child having played the original Super Mario Bros. on my Nintendo Entertainment System. On many occasions my friends, family and I would spend hours playing it. So imagine our surprise when we heard that a Super Mario Bros. movie was about to be released. In a kind gesture, my father offered to take us to the film. My nine-year-old self was so excited I could hardly wait, but when we saw it we could instantly tell that it was just a cash grab attempt made to try and capitalize on all of the Nintendo hype of the time.
They had missed the mark by a long shot. Yes there were two Italian characters and a bad guy named Bowser but nothing else had any resemblance to what we had experienced in the game.
The Hollywood machine has attempted multiple times since to turn video game success into a box office hit. On every occasion, they’ve failed to produce a story that was satisfying to gamers and non-gamers alike.
What did this Sonic the Hedgehog film get wrong?
Like in the Super Mario Bros. film, there are very few elements that connect the film to the game in terms of theme and story. There is a blue hedgehog named Sonic, and his enemy is Dr. Robotnik, and that is about it.
Sonic the Hedgehog does not have electric powers, ever, in any of the video games that were made about him and his rings never were teleportation devices. His power, as far as I can remember, never really was a “power” in the sense of super hero powers; he could always just run faster than everyone. It is just a part of who he is as a character.
The connections to the video game aren’t the only issue with Sonic the Hedgehog the movie. This film suffers from weak plot points, bad jokes, mediocre acting and setups with no payoff. A prime example is that Neal McDonough’s appearance as a soldier for about two minutes in the film has no purpose at all.
Something this film got right was the redesigning of Sonic himself. He looked much more like the character we have all grown to love, and without that redesign I doubt that anyone would have gone to see it.
Things Sonic the Hedgehog fans might enjoy
There were a few moments that a fan of Sonic the Hedgehog can appreciate and enjoy. Some were in the form of subtle Easter eggs that only a fan of the game would catch.
For example: the name of the town is Green Hills. For those who have played the game, the first three levels of Sonic the Hedgehog take place in Green Hill Zone. Also, at the end of the movie they have turned the energetic Green Hill Zone theme song into an endearing background melody as they are painting their house.
Other fun connections to the video game were when Sonic gets his new shoes, when Dr. Robotnik actually looks like Dr. Robotnik, and the appearance of Tails at the end.
Though this film may not please fans of the Sonic the Hedgehog franchise and holds no weight in the category of good storytelling, its Rotten Tomatoes audience score as of today’s date (February 22, 2020) sits at 94%.
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