Sonic the Hedgehog 2
Sonic the Hedgehog 2
  • Director: Jeff Fowler
  • Writer: Pat Casey, Josh Miller, John Whittington
  • Starring: James Marsden, Ben Schwartz, Tika Sumpter, Natasha Rothwell, Adam Pally, Shemar Moore, Colleen O’Shaughnessey, Lee Majdoub, Idris Elba, Jim Carrey
  • Release Date: April 8, 2022

Sonic the Hedgehog 2 Trailer


Sonic the Hedgehog 2, directed by Jeff Fowler, takes off like a bullet as a sequel that pleases in the way that any sequel should. The momentum continues to build, fan-favorite characters join the fray, and the film universe’s presence becomes more apparent. The first Sonic the Hedgehog is an endearing buddy comedy about an alien blur and his Donut Lord protector, which is based on a popular comic book character. Due to the fact that Sonic teams up with Tails, faces off against Knuckles, and hunts for Master Emerald, Sonic the Hedgehog 2 feels more like Sonic’s videogame adventures. It’s a reassuringly familiar videogame adaptation: All ages will be delighted as Sonic leaves his origin blueprints behind and evolves into the next-stage hero that was once projected from black plastic Sega cartridges. Mario, you’re going to eat your heart out.

Sonic (Ben Schwartz) is reintroduced to us as he is hard at work on his patent-pending vigilante cover “Blue Justice” at night, behind the backs of Tom (James Marsden) and Maddie (Katherine Heigl) (Tika Sumpter). Sonic is a child who wants to rush into superhero service; Tom assures him that his time will come, but Sonic is still immature and has a lot to learn about the superhero world. Because of this information, Tom and Maddie leave Sonic unsupervised for Rachel’s (Natasha Rothwell) Hawaiian destination wedding, which Sonic will need to defeat Dr. Robotnik (Jim Carrey) when he returns from the Mushroom Planet with a new accomplice: Knuckles the Echidna (Idris Elba). Both have a grudge against Sonic, and without the support of Sonic’s Earth family, he is left to fend for himself until the arrival of Miles “Tails” Prower (Colleen O’Shaughnessey), a supergenius two-tailed fox.

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When comparing the two films, Sonic the Hedgehog is the tighter overall production—thanks to its deft ability to balance Sonic’s X-games skill set with Saturday morning cartoon laughs and sentimental bursts from James Marsden’s human partnership—but Sonic the Hedgehog 2 has higher highs, as the grand spectacle of Sonic develops beyond “gotta go fast.” Traveling through ancient booby-trapped temples, fighting in Siberian mountain lodges, and upgrading Tails’ technological capabilities are all part of the adventure. Sonic the Hedgehog 2 employs a fuzzier scripted logic in order to bring Knuckles and Dr. Robotnik together, as well as to pursue an underlying subplot in which Commander Walters (Tom Butler) resurfaces to hunt Sonic on the orders of an anti-extraterrestrial government organization (G.U.N.). Even though there’s no getting around the narrative silliness that interrupts Rachel and her boyfriend’s idyllic Hawaiian romance, or the fact that the film is geared toward younger audiences, it’s always done with a self-aware safety. In on the joke of pretending James Marsden isn’t in incredible physical shape and in on the joy of gleefully assembling Sonic’s crew, they’re in on the joke.

If we think about it in terms of sequels, Sonic the Hedgehog 2 understands why we’re buying tickets: To witness Sonic, Tails, and Knuckles take center stage. Elba makes an immediate and punishing impression as Knuckles, a Drax the Destroyer-inspired almighty warrior with blunt intelligence and a fist-first approach to combat and life. O’Shaughnessey has been the voice of Tails for a long time, and his command over the sidekick appeals to fans who remember the character fondly. Schwartz’s exemplary understanding of Sonic’s corniest taunts continues here, and he infuses Sonic’s grown-up discoveries with a jolt of electric energy. Everyone’s development is openly precise, but in a heartwarmingly sincere way: Knuckles learns that he doesn’t have to solve problems by using violence, Sonic learns to take responsibility for others, and Tails learns that being proudly “weird” is alright, among other things With a focus on simplicity, Fowler and his screenwriters nail their themes down to the smallest compassionate gestures as Tails and Sonic strengthen their bond (and it’s even better when Knuckles muscled his way into the picture).

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Carrey continues to rule the screen as the mustache-twirling villain Dr. Robotnik, who flosses while giving another masterclass in physical comedy and conveying more range through his facial acting than entire comedy troupes combined. Carrey is an unstoppable force, drawing on his illustrious 1990s career to great effect, especially when the action picks up and his gesticulating goofiness translates into a Pacific Rim situation, as it does here. As I type these words, there’s no surprise on my face: it’s incredibly satisfying to see Carrey reprise his role as this kind of out-of-control lunatic. Dr. Robotnik was a role that Carrey was destined to play. Let’s not downplay his performance because it takes place in a children’s film, okay?

In Sonic’s battles with Eggman, he faces off against explosions, giant mechanical Kaijus (such as the Death Egg!), and his trademark slow-motion tomfoolery as time-stops serve as his playground. In their use of Sonic’s Master Emerald lore, screenwriters Pat Casey, Josh Miller, and John Whittington hit all the right notes, delivering fan service without ever feeling forced or unnecessary. Sonic and his friends quickly bond as they take to the skies in a biplane, with the Chaos Emeralds shining brightly as power-ups and the camaraderie between them evoking the Guardians of the Galaxy in its charm. It’s impossible to lose sight of any of this in a film that occasionally devolves into cheesy dog gags and low-brow lines intended to keep the kids entertained.

Without visually appealing animation, none of this would be possible, and Sonic the Hedgehog 2 does so in spectacular fashion. Congratulations to the collaborative efforts of Marza Animation Planet, Moving Picture Company, and DNEG—the blending of live-action and computer-generated creatures is essentially flawless throughout the film. The quills and furs in blazing reds, the deepest blues, and the warmest yellows are vividly detailed, and the devastation that stretches from Green Hills to Hawaii could rival the destruction seen in most disaster films. When Carrey arrives on the Mushroom Planet, Robotnik’s opening Cast Away gag does an excellent job of making him feel right at home among the overgrowth of fungi and the flashes of lightning that punctuate his trek across a green-screen landscape. Sonic and Tails’ growing friendship, as well as Marsden and Sumpter’s ability to elicit feelings of familial love from their chili-chomping adopted hedgehog son, is the result of all of this intertwining. Sonic the Hedgehog 2 ensures that what’s on-screen breathes and lives without any glitches, and it does so in a visually stunning manner.

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Sonic the Hedgehog fans will be pleased to know that Sonic the Hedgehog 2 is a worthy sequel. Creating a cinematic universe that speaks eloquently of childhood experiences through Sonic’s adrenaline-junkie antics, Fowler quietly raises the bar for videogame adaptations to a higher level than any other in recent memory. This dynamic addition of Tails and Knuckles will leave fans wanting more, as evidenced by the applause that erupted in my theater during the film’s mid-credits scene. Even if Sonic the Hedgehog 2 occasionally devolves into for-the-kids silliness, which certainly leaves some plotlines frayed, the reasons we’re here—Knuckles, Tails, Sonic, and more Eggman—are all enthusiastically embraced. After watching Fowler’s high-speed sequel, I’m a happy Sonic fan.