June 14 2022
Rolling around at the speed of sound, the blue blur made his dash from the videogame world to the big screen with the film Sonic the Hedgehog On June 26th, 2020. Directed by Jeff Fowler and distributed by Paramount Pictures, the movie was a smash hit in the box office, grossing over $306.8 million USD and becoming one of the most successful films of the year.
Both longtime and new Sonic fans will know that the titular hedgehog had a bad rap for the past decade. From the commercial flop of Sonic the Hedgehog 2006, the failed reinvention of the series with Sonic Boom, to the long-awaited yet disappointing Sonic Forces. In recent years, it has gotten harder to look forward to new media under the Sonic franchise, at least in the gaming portion.
However, this has changed with the introduction of fan involvement. Since the beginning of 2021, the Sonic the Hedgehog series has been experiencing a sort of renaissance with Sonic Origins and Sonic Frontiers coming to gamers, Sonic Prime coming to Netflix, and the Surge arc with the introduction of a new antagonist of the same name in the Sonic IDW comics.
Sonic 2 drops the audience right back into the setting of the town of Green Hills. Sonic lives with his resident foster parents, Maddie and Tom, trying to juggle the life of a hero and a child at the same time, and failing at both spectacularly. Though this is not untread ground for a movie like this, Sonic 2 wins the hearts of viewers with the sheer charm of the characters.
Themes of responsibility, family, and friendship are very important in this movie. This is no more prevalent than with the introduction of two new, yet titular Sonic characters; Tails the Fox and Knuckles the Echidna. Both are mainstays in the Sonic franchise, and are handled with the care they deserve as beloved characters.
First introduced is Tails, who meets Sonic on a mission to help him with his quest for heroism. Not much is built upon the common appearance or personality of the character; he is a kind, precocious kid and little brother figure to Sonic, someone to both depend on and protect.
Tails’ and Sonic’s interactions throughout the film are heartfelt and sweet from the moment they meet each other, and despite being a newcomer, he fits right into the dynamic. He also plays a helpful straight man to Sonic’s eccentricities, while still offering his own comedy from his own innocence. This is aided by the return of Colleen O’Shaugnessey, who has been with the character since 2014, and so far has been the only game voice actor to take her performance to the big screen, which she does with pure finesse.
The other returning character, Knuckles, is a big change from the most recent interpretations of the character. From the beginning, the foil character has meant to be a well meaning, but hard headed echidna with a quick temper. He is shown to be gullible, falling for Eggman’s schemes over and over, but Since Sonic The Hedgehog 2006, Knuckles has taken more of a lean towards strength and stupidity over all else.
In Sonic 2, however, the echidna takes an interesting lean in the opposite direction, towards a more serious and blunt personality. Re-introducing his backstory of guarding Angel Island’s master emerald and the disappearance of his tribe allowed screenwriters to focus more on the roots of his character, and how a straightforward soldier could be formed from the type of life he lived. Knuckles is still gullible, but mistakes trickery as earnestness as someone who values loyalty and bonds above all else. This deeper writing gives him a more human feeling–as realistic as a talking red echidna can be anyways.
There are also a lot of exciting things surrounding the movie, especially when it comes to its movie release. One unique thing about the viewing experience was that the hype for the movie was well-anticipated. When heading into select theaters, there was a lot of advertisement for the movie. For $2.99, moviegoers could get promotional cups with Sonic and Tails toppers, as well as full-length posters and special issues of the official IDW Sonic comic adapting the plot of the movie. For a Sonic fan, having these kinds of incentives makes the movie going experience that much more enjoyable and exciting.
With all that has been said and done, the Sonic films have been solidified as a series, with Sonic 3 teased in the movie’s ending and close on the horizon. The obvious question is prompted: what will the future of the Sonic franchise bring?
With the past of Sonic being so rocky, it is hard to say what Sonic may look like 10, 5, or even 1 year from now. It can be said, however, that the future of the movies will likely be even more filled with action, lore, and thoughtful characterization, seeing the success of Sonic 2. The Sonic movies do well on both drawing from the story of the games while also building their own universe, so it wouldn’t be surprising for Sonic 3 to take heavy inspiration from Sonic Adventure 1 and 2. Most hopefully, the movie will be able to make the new characters just as recognizable and enjoyable to watch as the returning ones.
As Sonic zooms through the world by storm, the addictive hype makes it easy to follow along, and hope that his future is as bright as he jumps to ‘reach for the stars.’