By Madeline Burbank
“Sonic the Hedgehog 2” – not to be confused with the 1992 game of the same name – was released in U.S. theatres on April 8 a little under two years after the first movie. It is set to release on Paramount’s streaming service, Paramount Plus, on May 24. The movie aims to surpass its predecessor in quality and narrative through improved character models and a larger scope for its story. Clocking in at two hours and two minutes, the movie is a bit on the longer side.
It features a returning cast of James Marsden as Tom Wachowski, Tika Sumpter as Maddie Wachowski, Ben Swartz as Sonic, Lee Majdoub as Agent Stone, and Jim Carrey as Dr. Robotnik. New additions include Idris Elba as Knuckles and Colleen O’Shaughnessey as Tails, who is also Tails’ current voice actor from the games as well.
Despite the name, the movie is a loose adaptation of both video games “Sonic the Hedgehog 2” and “Sonic the Hedgehog 3 & Knuckles” which introduced the characters of Tails and Knuckles respectively. The backstories for the characters have been tweaked for the movie release, yet share many similarities with what is seen in the mainline games.
The inclusion of additional anthropomorphic creatures among the cast leads to a shift in focus away from the human characters – excluding Dr. Robotnik. In particular, Tom Wachowski has much less screen time compared to the first movie. This is a blessing for fans of the series but may harm the enjoyment of others.
Despite this, the humans still get a decent amount of screentime in the film, arguably too much at times. The pacing slows down to a crawl when the Wachowski family is the focus. A scene in Hawaii towards the middle of the movie could have used shortening before the final release.
The comedy itself is still primarily aimed at children, as with the first movie, though there are a few jokes that landed with adults as well. The fight scenes had decent stakes and made good use of the character abilities through choreography.
In terms of the score, the new main theme for this movie was “Stars in the Sky” by Kid Cudi and can be streamed on YouTube. There are many licensed songs scattered throughout the movie that many will recognize.
The rest of the original soundtrack is by Tom Holkenborg and is good, though nothing particularly stood out from it. It is the same style that can be heard in the majority of big budget films today. The soundtrack can be found on Spotify and YouTube as well. Overall, the score primarily focuses on a mix of orchestral music supplemented with hip hop and rap.
The series is no stranger to either of these genres, but the games have historically put a greater focus on pop for the earlier games, rock in the 2000s, and electronic more recently. This difference in focus makes sense given the transition between video game and movie, though it would be nice to have some music from the games outside of just a Green Hill Zone cameo.
The plot of the film involves the new arrival Knuckles the Echidna hunting for a relic of his civilization, the Master Emerald, receiving help from Dr. Robotnik while going against Sonic and the two tailed fox Miles “Tails” Prower. While the anthropomorphic animals are hunting for this relic, the human family that adopted Sonic is attending a wedding in Hawaii.
One thing that will probably excite fans of the franchise is the inclusion of more story elements from the games, with the emerald being familiar to longtime fans of the series. There are more returning elements than just the gem, though none can be mentioned here.
There is a prequel comic that was released about a week before the movie that explains how the characters got to where they were at the start of the film and sets the stage well. It includes some cool references to the games and does not spoil anything important in the film.
Additionally, the end of the movie features a teaser for the third movie, which was announced by Paramount on Feb. 15 earlier this year along with a spinoff television series centered around Knuckles. To avoid spoilers, I will not mention what the teaser involved, but it will have many, especially Sonic fans, excited for what the sequel will involve.
Outside of the movie universe, Sonic Prime – a new 3D animated series – is supposed to be releasing on Netflix later this year featuring a cross-dimensional story. The IDW Sonic comic is expected to release its 50th issue on June 22 this year. The current story arc is supposed to get a dramatic battle in celebration of this.
In terms of video games, Sonic Origins – a widescreen collection of “Sonic the Hedgehog 1”, CD, 2, and 3&K on a new engine – just got a trailer announcing its release date as June 23. It will launch digitally at $40 with a $45 deluxe edition and includes new animated cutscenes, missions, a story mode, and the option to play without lives.
The next mainline video game, Sonic Frontiers, aims to release holiday 2022 likely for a $60 price point. It will feature open world gameplay but is still mostly shrouded in mystery. It’s rumored that more information will be released in June at the Summer Games Fest.
“Sonic the Hedgehog 2” is a great time for both Sonic fans and movie fans. While still by no means perfect, the film is a step in the right direction from the generic kid road trip that was the first movie.
Madeline Burbank is a contributing writer for The Alabamian. She's majoring in Computer Science with an undeclared minor. She enjoys video games and chatting with her girlfriend in her free time.