Life is pretty sweet.
At least it is for a power-infused little guy named Sonic. This anthropomorphized hedgehog from another dimension seems to be living his best life.
Sonic has been working hard at using his super speed to help people as a hero.He’s got a makeshift family, in the form of married-couple-turned-parental-figures Tom and Maddie, who care about him. And his archenemy, Dr. Ivo Robotnik, was shoved through an interdimensional portal and sent to a distant mushroom planet where he can do no harm.
What more can a blue hedgehog want? Can we get a “Woohoo”?
Of course, from the perspective of the wildly mustachioed Robotnik, who’s chowing on mushrooms morning, noon and night, things aren’t quite so cheery. I mean, it’s almost impossible to concoct a good mushroom beverage … even for a super genius.
The one thing Robotnic has in his favor though, is a small quill. That single quill from Sonic’s back is packed with enough energy to save him. Robotnik just needs to work diligently with what little he has: experimenting, tweaking, reconfiguring.
And at last, he gets it!
With one flipped switch and a massive explosion, the mushroom-packed doc blasts a signal out into the heavens. And before he can brew up another shitake latte, a portal materializes: Out steps a short, red echidna with big fists who calls himself Knuckles.
Knuckles, you see, has the power of cross-dimensional travel. He’s on a quest to obtain a magical emerald imbued with the power to manifest nearly any thought. And his search goes through a small, blue Hedgehog on some unknown planet—the owner of the very quill Robotnik used.
After cracking a wry smile—all the while quickly thinking through the many possibilities of being connected to this odd red creature—Robotnik proposes a partnership. This could be the beginning of a beautiful friendship. (If, that is, friendship can be defined as a backstabbing betrayal.)
Back on planet Earth, however, Sonic has no idea what trouble is a’brewin’. He’s trying to do good, stay out of too much mischief and make his adopted family proud. He doesn’t know that incredible, universe-shaking danger is just a cross-dimensional portal-jump away. In fact, Sonic is just as carefree and happy as a clam. A traveling-at-the-speed-of-sound clam, that is.
And that’s where our story begins.
Tom and Maddie have taken on the job of caring for Sonic as family, and they do so with passion. Amid danger, they willingly put their own safety at risk to help the little speedster. They share their love openly with him, call him son and determine to stand by his side, no matter what.
Tom also spends one-on-one time with Sonic and talks to him about his goals and choices. Even though Sonic is diligently trying to help people “as a hero,” Tom makes it clear that the young speedster isn’t always being responsible or wise with his choices. “You’ve got some growing up to do before you can become a hero,” Tom tells his young charge. He tells Sonic that there will be a time when he is called upon to do something brave, then adds, “But you don’t choose that moment, it chooses you.”
Sonic also makes a new friend in Tails, an anthropomorphic fox who comes through an interdimensional portal to warn Sonic about a coming danger. The two team up and aid each other through perilous adventures.
[Spoiler Warning] Ultimately, Sonic collaborates with family and friends, each applying his or her strengths to accomplish their goal. And he talks to Knuckles about the true value of finding some loving family members, encouraging the red echidna in his own need for community. “I found a new family and friends, and you can, too.” Sonic also repeats Tom’s words to him, telling Knuckles: “Being a hero isn’t about taking care of yourself, it’s about taking responsibility for others.” Those words and Sonic’s selfless actions, cause the steel-eyed, hard-driving Knuckles to pause and think about his own choices. The two eventually become friends and fight together for what’s right.
The Master Emerald that Knuckles seeks is a gem created by the combination of six chaos emeralds. These powerful stones are never fully explained, but their magic-like power is used not only to “turn thought into reality,” but to transform two different individuals into “godlike” entities with superpowers.
We’re told that the power of this Master Emerald is so massive that it should be feared and kept hidden from anyone who might use it. Ultimately, Sonic is able to send the individual Chaos Emeralds into space.
A pastor begins the process of marrying two people, but it turns out that he’s actually a federal agent. During a difficult dance competition, a panting dancer falls to his knees and crosses himself.
Men with ripped physiques play volleyball on the beach dressed in swimming trunks. A Russian guy dances shirtless. There’s a winking comment made about a bride-to-be getting “waxed.” And the bride also speaks of her betrothed’s “manscaped” body. The couple kisses passionately.
As with many super-duper hero-and-villain stories, exploding and crashing perilous things tend to happen quite often. Even on a planet populated by nothing but mushrooms, for example, Robotnik is somehow able to create an explosion so powerful that it sends a beam into outer space, throws him spinning 30 feet and knocks him out cold.
The bim-bam-boom moments escalate from there. And it’s not just baddie demolitions. While trying to stop a bank robbery, for instance, Sonic causes a series of large explosions, sending cars flying, ripping an armored vehicle apart and blowing up a sewer system.
Sonic and Knuckles get into several fights, smashing each other through house walls and various other vehicles and structures. The timid Tails gets into the act, too, slamming into the heavy-fisted Knuckles with a police car at one point.
Sonic and Tails battle scores of Robotnik’s laser-blasting robot minions. We also see a snowy avalanche that wipes out a wedding party. People get hit with Taser shocks. Federal agents run around with automatic weaponry while being zapped by futuristic weapons. And car chases involve myriad bashed and smashed vehicles.
Once the power of the Master Emerald comes into play, then things definitely take on a more video game-sized oomph. A giant thought-created robot battler rips up landscape. Destructive laser blasts level buildings and bridges. Military vehicles and tanks are crumpled while high-speed thumping and massive explosions abound.
It should be noted, however, that for all of that super-powered kaboom, nothing ever feels particularly deadly. The movie keeps the live-action bash-and-crash feeling just a bit cartoony. The closest thing to real danger is a scene in which Sonic dives into deep ocean water to save a trapped Knuckles, even though he can’t swim. Eventually the two rescue one another. Tails gets knocked unconscious.
There are a couple uses of the word “h—,” some seven cries of “oh my god!” a use of “holy crap” and an unfinished “son of a …”.
Then there are other quips in the mix designed as winking crudities, including exclamations of: “holy sherbet,” “kick some blue buttikis,” “this piece of shitake planet” and Tail’s whirling tail being called a “butt copter.”
Tom and Maddie go to her sister’s wedding. People drink Mai Tais and champagne. A group of groomsmen spray each other with champagne. Sonic and Tail take refuge from an icy storm in a Siberian bar where men and women are drinking at the surrounding tables.
Sonic leaves a life-sized doll in his room in an attempt to fool Tom. The doll’s recorded dialogue incorporates repeated gassy moments designed to keep visitors at bay.
Sonic makes several silly “kid” choices after promising to be on his best behavior. Someone is called “simple minded.” Knuckles and Robotnik run through a series of Indiana Jones-like environmental traps.
A large blade slashes very close to Robotnik’s front and he looks down and quips: “Glad it didn’t cut off my … mustache.”
Hollywood is not shy about making movies based on anything with a fan base. TV shows, comic books, video games—they’re all represented in an abundance of theater marquee titles these days. Which, of course, leads us to a little, speedy, blue blaze of a character named Sonic who’s been the star of all those genres and who’s back for a big screen sequel.
So, what can one say about Sonic the Hedgehog 2? Well, it’s cute and cartoony for one thing. It has some nice, speedster-primed lessons for kids about relying on friends and family, growing up well and being a good example. And it uses the gurning and goofing Jim Carrey more this go ’round—even though it stumbles a bit short in the genuinely funny dialogue category.
Speaking of jokey lines, there’s a bit of eye-rolling toilet humor, and some adult winks about manscaping and waxed body hair, that probably should have been left on the, uh, cutting room floor. And several misuses of God’s name is another issue here that families should take note of.
But that said, once this pic finally gets its high-speed movie legs churning and finds its way to its best video game hat-tips—with Robotnik, Sonic, Knuckles and Tails all clashing in colorful biff-bam-boom splendor—things become especially smile worthy.
In short, Sonic the Hedgehog 2 doesn’t necessarily grab the gold ring right out the first loop-de-loop, but it won’t disappoint the kids or their “fanboy” parents by the time you hit the flag-waving goal.
After spending more than two decades touring, directing, writing and producing for Christian theater and radio (most recently for Adventures in Odyssey, which he still contributes to), Bob joined the Plugged In staff to help us focus more heavily on video games. He is also one of our primary movie reviewers.
Life is pretty sweet.