Video game movies have often proven worthy of disdain in the past but the new hybrid CG-animated/live-action Sonic the Hedgehog is shaping up to be better liked than most, at least according to the IGN staff who have seen the movie.
In addition to the official IGN review posted on Tuesday, below you’ll find reactions from six staff members across all of our content-making departments — from editorial to social to video — all of which are kept as spoiler-free as possible.
In addition to the staff review roundups for tentpole entertainment properties such as Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker and Netflix’s The Witcher, we also had several members of our team chime in about what they thought about Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order.
These roundup pieces are a bit of an experiment that we will continue tweaking and refining, so we’ll be taking all your feedback left in the comments as we produce more of these in the future.
IGN’s Review, by Akeem Lawanson, Host/Producer
From the official IGN Sonic the Hedgehog review: While this family-friendly action-comedy suffers from a simplistic story and leans too heavily on tired visual cliches, Sonic the Hedgehog is nevertheless boosted by solid performances from Ben Schwartz as Sonic and Jim Carrey as Dr. Robotnik. Their ongoing cat-and-mouse game is entertaining, and passionate fans of the Sega franchise should appreciate all the nods to Sonic’s history.
Make no mistake, this frantically-paced film is made first and foremost for Sonic fans. If you’ve been there for the little blue fella these past 29 years, from his humble beginnings on the Sega Genesis to his current iteration, then Sonic the Hedgehog is the love letter you’re probably looking for. If not… maybe save your gold rings.
Terri Schwartz, Editor-in-Chief, Entertainment
Sonic the Hedgehog is a sweet and simple adaptation of the beloved video game franchise of the same name. This is a movie aimed at kids that certainly is charming as an adult viewer — and pays loving homage to the Sonic video games — but also isn’t especially edgy or adult with its humor. Instead, this is a sweet story about friendship and family, with the strongest bond being between Ben Schwartz’s teenage Sonic and James Marsden’s Tom Wachowski, a cop who crosses paths with Sonic and needs to protect him from Jim Carrey’s villainous Dr. Ivo Robotnik.
Carrey channels his full The Mask energy for a pre-Eggman Robotnik, with all the mustache-twirling zeal you’d hope from him playing this character. As someone who didn’t grow up playing Sonic and who didn’t have a deep attachment to the character, I found his big-screen debut pleasant and inoffensive, but it’s not something I would rush to theaters to see again any time soon.
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Zach Ryan, Director of Social Content and Strategy
I didn’t expect much from the Sonic film. To be honest, I’ve never really been much of a Sonic fan, but from the moment we saw those first renders, I knew that this movie would certainly be… something. Fortunately, for all of us, Sonic the Hedgehog is surprisingly fun and full of heart. Yes, it’s chock full extremely online jokes and there are a couple of genuinely bizarre product placements, but that’s not enough to bring down the absolutely bonkers action sequences or distract from a genuinely charming performance from Ben Schwartz as Sonic.
My only real gripe with the film is Jim Carrey as Dr. Robotnik. He’s got a very ‘90s era Jim Carrey vibe about him throughout the whole movie and his over-the-top “I’m better than you” schtick is more annoying than it is funny. It captures a Saturday morning cartoon feel in the same way the recent TMNT films did: absolutely crazy, occasionally cringy, and ultimately a good time.
Nick Limon, Video Producer
The Sonic movie is charming and perfect for kids, with little substance for the adults bringing them to the movie outside of the fantastic bar fight and, of course, Jim Carrey chewing up every scene he’s in.
But other than that, not much of the movie sticks with me outside of the glaring omission of City Escape. Like, why have Sonic travel to San Francisco and have him run away from something and NOT play City Escape? It’s probably in a previous draft of the movie that’s forever lost in time. Like tears in rain.
Brendan Graeber, Editor, Games
I went into the Sonic movie with pretty low expectations – I was a Nintendo kid that played a handful of Sonic games at my friend’s house growing up, so I honestly wasn’t sure what was going to happen. The movie relied heavily on making Sonic a believable character on screen, and to that end, the design of Sonic was exactly what it needed to be to carry the film (I honestly don’t think I could have stomached a movie’s worth of Sonic’s initial gremlin design). Ben Schwartz did an impeccable job voicing a version of Sonic I actually liked: wisecracking, but not too snarky. Schwartz also managed to make Sonic a goofy chatterbox that never crossed the line into becoming a true annoyance, which I consider a pretty impressive feat. There were a few fun nods to Sonic’s source material, and I’m glad the movie didn’t get lost in the weeds with pointless references or lore that wouldn’t make sense to the plot.
I also felt like Sonic the Hedgehog worked as well as it did thanks to the efforts of its small but talented main cast. Similar movies like Detective Pikachu lost me whenever the camera cut away to the bland human characters, but I felt James Marsden ended up having great chemistry trying to keep up with the hyperactive hedgehog, and Jim Carrey absolutely stole the show by channeling his ‘90s-era zaniness to make every scene he was a part of absolutely over-the-top. I did find the plot revolving around Sonic and Tom Wachowski’s quest to get to San Francisco a bit odd and ultimately underused. The pacing didn’t feel quite right at times with Sonic rushing along with secondary plots by getting mad at something that didn’t make sense, and certain scenes just ended up feeling trivial. That said, Sonic’s slow-motion action scenes were pretty enjoyable, and actually translated Sonic’s signature “spin dash” to look as cool in a movie as it does in a video game.
Francesca Rivera, Associate Producer
I never played the Sonic games growing up, so everything I learned about Sonic’s tragic life-on-the run was straight from this movie. That being said, I love James Marsden, Jim Carrey, Ben Schwartz, and Ben Schwartz’s love of Sonic, and would’ve tried to watch this movie for them regardless. Sonic is the kind of self-aware kids’ movie that would entertain both the young children and the grown-ups who brought them alike.
Although it is a fun time for the kids, Sonic doesn’t really say anything about anything, especially for its human (and actual) lead, James Marsden’s Tom Wachowski. Marsden, by the way, carries the film expertly and is clearly having a lot of fun, especially against Jim Carrey’s Robotnik. The cat-and-mouse road trip that covers the second act really builds Tom and Sonic’s friendship and fulfills each character’s needs the way a neat movie should. There are also some truly creative “freeze time” sequences with songs that, indeed, slap.
It’s obvious that this film is the first of a franchise, setting up the Sonic/Dr. Robotnik rivalry over the course of what felt like one long first act. The way Tom’s story ends does leave a bad taste in my mouth and Jim Carrey’s Dr. Robotnik, unfortunately, is a little too out-of-place against everyone else’s dialogue and performances. So while the larger lesson of maybe staying in your comfortable space instead of challenging yourself may be troubling to expose to children, it still is a sweet story of helping those in need.
Yusuf McCoy, Social Media Designer
With a commendable performance from Jim Carrey and the titular hero voiced by Ben Schwartz, this live-action adaptation brings the joy and excitement for fans and children alike. Though the film does an adequate job of introducing some lore to Sonic, it falls short in the final act. With some surprise appearances making their way into the film leaving room for possible sequels, this is a strong start to a possible film franchise.
Let us know your thoughts on Sonic the Hedgehog in the comments below! And for more on the movie, here’s our breakdown of the end credits scene and what it could mean for a sequel, all the video game Easter eggs we caught in the film, find out what the critics are saying about Sonic, and what Jim Carrey had to tell us about the evolution of Robotnik’s look.