BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KGET) — The second level of a video game generally increases the intensity of the action but the overall experience remains the same. The same can be said of “Sonic the Hedgehog 2.” The action is bigger but the overall experience of this being an over-acted and weakly written story aimed at a juvenile level remains the same.
This second film version of “Sonic the Hedgehog” – based on the blockbuster Sega video game franchise – has Sonic (voiced by Ben Schwartz) living a semi-quiet life in Montana with small-town sheriff – Tom Machowski (James Marsden). It is a good life except for Sonic’s desire to be a superhero. He has not been fully trained for that world and causes more troubles than he helps.
Sonic’s arch enemy, the villainous Dr. Ivo Robotnik (Jim Carrey), has been living in exile on a mushroom planet where he spends his days trying to find a way to get back to Earth to destroy Sonic. His escape comes in the form of Knuckles (voiced by Idris Elba) who also wants to turn Sonic into blue mush.
The pair return to Earth to stop Sonic and find a mystical gem that makes the owner all powerful. Dr. Robotnik will do anything necessary to complete his goal.
This time, Sonic has to rely on a new ally as Tom and his wife (Tika Sumpter) are in Hawaii attending a wedding. This is when Tails (voiced by Colleen O’Shaughnessey) arrives. He has watched Sonic from across the galaxy and shows up to be with his hero and arrives just in time for the multiple big battles.
Jeff Fowler made his feature film directing debut with “Sonic the Hedgehog” after getting an Oscar nomination for a short film (“Gopher Broke” in 2004). He only can live off that Oscar fame for so long as he again struggles to create a full movie where it is necessary to define characters, set up interesting situations and stage huge battles that are right for the target audience.
“Sonic the Hedgehog 2” again relies on playground humor that deals with bodily functions but overall the movie is more juvenile fun than scary cinema. Even the evil Dr. Robotnik continues to have no bite because of the goofy way Carrey plays the character.
The sequel gives Carrey another chance to play the most manic character since “The Mask.” Fowler’s lack of experience – or lack of caring – allows Carrey to play Dr. Robotnik so over the top that he goes beyond the role being a human version of a cartoon character. There’s more mugging going on in his performance than at a pub on St. Patrick’s Day.
At least the sequel arrives without all of the protests that popped up before the original film opened. Fans of the franchise protested when the first images of Sonic were released because of the way his teeth and legs looked. They had no idea then – or now – that would be the least of the problems with the production.
“Sonic the Hedgehog” never gets up to full speed because writers Patrick Casey and Josh Miller (the team behind the script for the first movie) have plumped up the script with excessive and unnecessary scenes.
The key audience for this production is going to be youngsters and with a running time of over two hours, this is not a kid friendly movie. The movie has a natural ending with a major battle but the movie keeps going for an additional 20 minutes
Then there is the wedding sequence were way too much time is wasted watching Natasha Rothwell take on the role of a bridezilla. That entire sequence could have been reduced to a few minutes.
They also have created this weird situation where no one seems too freaked out when they see a blue hedgehog and a fox with two tails who can talk. That could have been a deep well for comedy they just pass over.
The sequel does get a few bonus points for introducing the characters of Tails and Knuckles. And, it has a very eclectic and fun soundtrack.
As with the first film, youngsters will be entertained by the colorful characters but the adults will find that the humor ends up being game over way too quickly.
Sonic the Hedgehog 2
Cast: James Marsden, Jim Carrey, Tika Sumpter, Adam Pally, Shemar Moore, Natasha Rothwell.
Director: Jeff Fowler
Rated: PG for violence, rude humor
Running time: 122 minutes.