There were two reasons to think that the Sonic the Hedgehog movie was going to be a disaster. There was the overwhelmingly negative reaction to the trailer, particularly Sonic’s unsettlingly human teeth, that sent animators back to the (digital) drawing board and delayed the film’s release. Couple that with the fact that it’s a movie based on a video game, a genre with a worse than dismal history from Super Mario Bros. to Assassin’s Creed to Max Payne.
And yet, early reviews of the new and improved Sonic suggest that it’s…not that bad and, incredibly, kind of good. Along with the success of last year’s Detective Pikachu, it’s a sign that Hollywood might have finally cracked the video game-inspired movie formula.
Sonic currently has a 70 percent rating on Rotten Tomatoes, which has so far aggregated 56 different reviews of the film. That’s pretty good! So good that San Francisco Chronicle critic Peter Hartlaub thinks “we all owe a big apology” to the movie.
“Far from the blight on cinema it was portrayed to be, this is a benign and charming small-scale family movie,” he writes, a “low-key video game movie [that] is built on a foundation of solid writing and likable characters, and a mellow escapist vibe that doesn’t get lost in excess.” That sounds pretty much like what you’d want a Sonic movie to be.
Bilge Ebiri, writing in Vulture, heaped praise on Jim Carrey’s performance as Dr. Ivo Robotnik. “Carrey taps back into the unpredictable energies of his golden era: the jutting jaw, the exaggerated voice, the angular, surreal movements…[he] is the film’s most prized weapon, letting us wallow in the ridiculousness of this whole enterprise without ever holding himself above it.”
Plenty of today’s parents grew up on Dumb and Dumber, The Mask, and the Ace Ventura films, and Carrey returning to that form should be a big enticement.
To be clear, none of these reviews is completely positive, but that’s not to be expected for any film. And if your goal in looking over the reviews is to decide whether or not Sonic the Hedgehog is worth the cost of admission for you and your family, the answer so far seems to be a resounding — and unexpected — “yes.”
Sonic the Hedgehog comes to theaters tonight.