"Sonic the Hedgehog 2" stars Ben Schwartz, James Marsden, Tika Sumpter, Natasha Rothwell, Adam Pally, Lee Majdoub, Shemar Moore, Colleen O'Shaughnessey, Idris Elba, and Jim Carrey. Releasing on April 8, 2022, the film has Sonic attempting to prevent Dr. Robotnik from finding the Master Emerald.
The film is directed by Jeff Fowler, a visual effects artist. It is the sequel to the 2020 film, "Sonic the Hedgehog", also directed by Fowler. The blue hedgehog has encountered some pretty exciting obstacles in his iconic franchise, whether they're related to the games or on television. However, his trip to the big screen happens to take the cake and eat it. It started as another recipe for disaster due to Sonic's original character design, which got diehard fans more triggered than they were with "Sonic 06". I wasn't affected by his original design, but I will admit that it looked pretty weird. However, Hollywood managed to turn this adaptation around by actually listening to the fans and changing his appearance to make him look more accurate to him in the games. This change led us to what we have today: a fun and fast-paced road trip adventure that features solid visuals, entertaining performances, and Ben Schwartz's incredible portrayal of the title character. More importantly, it became one of the better video game adaptations to date, at least in my opinion. Combine that with its successful box office run, and we got another blockbuster franchise for Paramount to milk, just like what they're going to do with Transformers next year. Fast forward to today, and we already have a sequel that sees the blue blur gaining a new ally and facing his biggest challenge yet. Since I enjoyed the heck out of its predecessor, it seems like a no-brainer that I would feel the same way about the family-friendly follow-up. The question is, is it any good? Let's find out.
The story takes place sometime after the first film, where Sonic (Schwartz) continues to adapt to his new home on Earth. When Tom (Marsden) and Maddie (Sumpter) leave for her sister Rachel's (Rothwell) wedding in Hawaii, Sonic has the entire home to himself. However, his tranquility is later interrupted by the return of his arch-enemy Dr. Robotnik (Carrey), complete with a bald head and a huge mustache. But he's not alone in his quest for revenge. He's accompanied by an echidna warrior named Knuckles (Elba), who has his eyes set on Sonic and the mysterious Master Emerald. With the help of the two-tailed fox Tails (O'Shaughnessey), Sonic races across the globe to prevent the Master Emerald from falling into the hands of evil and discover the true meaning of heroism.
If you've seen the first movie, you'll already know what to expect from the sequel. It's got everything that made "Sonic the Hedgehog" a success: fast-paced action, likable characters, pop culture references, Easter eggs, and even a fart joke or two. Why? Because Hollywood still thinks that farts are funny. In addition, "Sonic the Hedgehog 2" attempts to go bigger with a high-stakes quest and a formidable foe for the blue hedgehog to face. That's a pretty big order for the film to accomplish, especially since it's a sequel to a video game movie, a sub-genre that doesn't regularly fare well with critics and gamers. From my perspective, the sequel just needed to deliver the things that worked in the first film, along with its entertainment value and tolerable story, and that's it. It's not meant to be an award-winning masterpiece, but it needs to be suitable enough to warrant multiple rewatches and a few extra lives. Fortunately, "Sonic the Hedgehog 2" managed to be just that: a worthy (and rare) video game movie sequel that happens to be as fun, silly, and action-packed as its predecessor.
While it offers more of the same advantages as "Sonic the Hedgehog", it also comes with some standard errors in the system that kept it from being a "perfect" adaptation, including the story. Most sequels tend to provide elements in their plots that one-up the smaller scale of their predecessors but usually wound up biting off more than they can chew, mainly the ones from the action genre. "Sonic the Hedgehog 2" is no exception, with the titular character exploring different parts of the globe and learning more about the history surrounding his past. Without going into full detail and spoiling any huge surprises, I thought the story had enough exciting moments to earn the changes to the franchise's lore, including Knuckles himself. However, it's not a fantastic story since it has the same issues that plagued the first film. It has a few familiar tropes that we've seen countless times in other movies before, mainly from the superhero sub-genre. It is also a rehash of the road trip formula used in its predecessor, except with Tails as Sonic's road trip buddy instead of James Marsden.
Additionally, the movie has the usual corny dialogue that'll make children laugh with glee and adults chuckle in disbelief, and its length is surprisingly beefy for a family movie. Luckily, its swift pacing and irresistible charm were enough to earn some points in its kid-friendly storytelling. More importantly, it offers a thoughtful message about the importance of heroism, with Sonic learning to take responsibility for his actions and care for others instead of himself. It might not pair well with a story that doesn't explore certain elements deeply, but it does give kids and their parents something to talk about during the car ride home.
Another vital advantage the film successfully took was the cast. The actors onscreen were just as entertaining as they were in the first movie, whether they were portraying real people or providing voice work for the CGI characters. Ben Schwartz continues to be one of the best aspects of the franchise, thanks to his stellar vocal performance as Sonic. He still delivers a good amount of charm, humor, and heart that made the hedgehog so iconic in the first place. James Marsden, Tika Sumpter, and Adam Pally (Wade) also continue to provide some tolerability to their human characters, even though they're not in the film as much as Sonic. There's also Jim Carrey, who is doing what he does best: being goofy and gleefully over-the-top. If you liked him as Robotnik in the first movie, then there's a strong chance you'll enjoy him in the sequel. He's just that funny. The main highlight of the human cast has to be Natasha Rothwell as Rachel, who's given a much more significant role here than in the first film. Without spoilers, Rothwell delivers plenty of moments that earn some big laughs from me. I would even say that she's more comical here than Carrey. The rest of the voice cast aside from Schwartz were also delightful in their roles, including Colleen O'Shaughnessey, the only cast member from the games to reprise her role for the film. She did a solid job voicing Tails in the recent games, and I'm happy to say that she did very well voicing this lovable, intelligent sidekick in the movie. I also really enjoyed Idris Elba's take on Knuckles, who's represented as an honorable warrior that's also not as bright as Robotnik's big brain. The film perfectly resembles how I would imagine Knuckles from the source material regarding his personality and humor.
The visual effects were also pretty decent in resembling the character designs and the action set pieces. Jeff Fowler has proven himself to be an acceptable visual effects artist and animator in his previous projects. However, he also shows that he can be a decent filmmaker. His direction on how each visual setting is shot and choreographed is quite impressive, and the action scenes were entertaining without being too intense for the younger crowd. Some of the visuals were far from perfect, and the one scene with Carrey has a noticeable green screen effect that's a bit off-putting. Aside from that, the CGI works well in not being as heavily bloated as Michael Bay's Transformers movies.
Overall, "Sonic the Hedgehog 2" races past its similar obstacles to deliver another diverting chapter in Sonic's promising film career. It doesn't have anything new to make it a vast improvement over its predecessor, but it does offer enough fun sequences to keep itself from losing any lives in its second level. From its delightful cast to the eye-catching visuals, the sequel continues to overshadow the video game movie curse and show some potential in the franchise's future on the big screen. It is also another scenario where if people like me enjoyed the first film, they'd have a good time watching the sequel, especially with all of the Easter eggs on display. Also, make sure you stay for the mid-credit scene for another sweet, juicy surprise appearance.