Hot on the red-and-white heels of 2020’s surprise hit, Sonic the Hedgehog 2 draws on a wealth of videogame icons and vocal talent for another helping of kinetic family fun.
This time, Sonic (Ben Schwartz) is trying to find his place in the sleepy suburb of Green Hills. That dose of introspection – and ill-fated superhero audition as the Batman-esque ‘Blue Justice’ – is swiftly dispatched as the spiny speedster is joined by twin-tailed fox Tails (Colleen O'Shaughnessey, reprising her role from the games) on the high-octane hunt for the Master Emerald, a source of unlimited power.
There are roadblocks on that bejewelled quest, though, in the form of a returning Doctor Robotnik (Jim Carrey) and his new uneasy ally, Knuckles (Idris Elba). The bristling echidna’s hard-hitting approach is welcome, providing a far more physical threat for Sonic here than anything found in the original movie. As a dynamic, Knuckles as the straight man to Sonic’s relentless ball of energy doesn’t always work. But Elba brings a real sense of gravitas to what could have otherwise been an overly po-faced role.
The breezy adventure is later brought to a screeching halt in disappointing fashion by a baffling sub-plot, as Tom (James Marsden) and Maddie (Tika Sumpter) head to Hawaii for the wedding of Maddie’s sister, Rachel (Natasha Rothwell).
When Sonic 2 does eventually say aloha to that meandering middle third, however, it shines. Tom and company being sidelined gives more room for Jim Carrey (in literal moustache-twirling form, no less) to relive his ’90s heyday with a superb sugar rush of a performance. The entertaining CGI scraps between Sonic and Knuckles also showcase director Jeff Fowler’s sharper eye for action this time around.
While the joke hit rate isn’t as high as it should be, there are still laugh-out-loud moments to be had. A liberal sprinkling of adult gags – including a glorious eye roll of a mushroom pun – keep Sonic 2 from being a kids-only affair.
In truth, the original just edges out the sequel. The story beats here follow the same well-worn path as the 2020 film, with Robotnik’s mad schemes and the power-of-friendship message feeling a touch reheated a second time around, even with the added wrinkle of Knuckles and the noticeably improved special effects. But this snappy sequel proves Sonic’s race isn’t run yet. Far from it. With a threequel already confirmed and a Knuckles spin-off series in the works for 2023, it’s full speed ahead for the Blue Blur.
Sonic the Hedgehog 2 reaches UK cinemas on April 1 and US theaters on April 8. For more, check out the most exciting upcoming movies heading your way soon.