In 2020, Sonic the Hedgehog became an unexpected critical and box office success. Thanks in part to a brilliant comedic voice performance from Ben Schwartz, a return to form performance from comedy legend Jim Carrey and a love of the video game source material that was evident from the very beginning, all combined for one of the year’s biggest hits. A sequel was immediately pushed for development and while Sonic the Hedgehog 2 certainly ups the ante, it does not manage to outpace its predecessor.
While the cast of the original film all return, Idris Elba and Colleen O’Shaughnessey voice new characters Knuckles and Tails respectively. Knuckles is the antithesis of Sonic; he’s serious, gullible and a born fighter while not recognizing that his pain is one that is shared by him and Sonic. Knuckles doesn’t immediately see that he and Sonic are more alike than either would care to admit. Tails, while a welcome addition to Sonic’s group and forces the blue hedgehog to become a mentor, feels more like a fanboy than a hero who’s more than capable of holding his own against Dr. Robotnik.
The stakes are raised from the first film; Dr. Robotnik has returned to Earth to exact on Sonic while partnering up with Knuckles to find The Master Emerald, a giant gem that is said to imbue it wielder with unimaginable power. Following a brief introductory fight to Knuckles, Sonic and Tails journey to Siberia where they locate a compass to find the Emerald. It is here in the second act that film begins to derail. There is an extended dance-off scene in Siberia where Tails and Sonic have to confront a bunch of angry Russians set to Bruno Mars’ “Uptown Funk”. This scene feels too similar to the dance off in Guardians of the Galaxy and could have easily been reworked for Sonic and Tails to sneakily get their information and get out. There is also an entire subplot involving Sonic’s de facto human mom and dad as they travel to Hawaii for a destination wedding involving his “mom’s” sister that turns out to be a sham that could have been eliminated entirely from the runtime. This sequence completely derails the story and by the time Sonic resumes his journey, it is forgotten where he left off in the first place.
The sequel retains the humor from the original film and the addition of Knuckles feels like a natural progression for the series. Tails will hopefully get a heroic upgrade for the eventual third film but he is more of a squeaky wheel in this trio of heroes. The two-hour runtime is a major concern as there are many scenes that could have been edited for time and forces the rushed character development towards the film’s conclusion. Sonic the Hedgehog 2 is a worthy follow up to an exceptional first outing but comes just short of surpassing it. The credits scene here introduces a new character, Shadow, so hopefully the filmmakers can avoid the inevitable character bloat that plagues film franchises.
VERDICT: 3 out of 5 Master Emeralds
Featured Image Credit: IMDb