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Reasons Why I Now Consider The First Sonic The Hedgehog Movie The Best Video Game Movie Ever After A Re-Watch



(Image credit: Paramount Pictures)

I’m going to be frank. Most video game movies are flat out awful. Now, that’s not to say that I don’t enjoy them. In fact, I’ve seen every video game movie ever released in the United States. And of those films, I’ve already ranked the 10 best video game movies. But, here’s the thing. I wrote that list before I saw Sonic The Hedgehog. And, like the Sonic The Hedgehog review from our very own Mike Reyes, I really liked the movie upon my first viewing. But, after watching it again a few more times since then, I think I now consider it the greatest video game movie of all time, supplanting even Pokemon Detective Pikachu.

In fact, I don’t just think it; I know that I now consider it my all-time favorite video game movie. Because unlike the Street Fighter or the Mortal Kombat movies, which I already knew were bad (and liked because they were bad), I instantly knew that the Sonic the Hedgehog movie was not just a good video game flick, but also just a good flick in general. In other words, you didn’t have to be a massive fan of the blue blur to actually enjoy it. Now, with Sonic the Hedgehog 2 on the horizon—which will make fans lose their minds, according to the director—I thought it was a good opportunity to revisit the first movie and go over just why I hold it in such high regard. Gotta go fast!

(Image credit: Paramount Pictures)

It Genuinely Gets The Title Character

It seems like a million years ago, but it still can’t be overstated just how up in arms Sonic fans were upon seeing Sonic’s original design for the movie. But, after several changes made for his redesign, Sonic fans approved of his new look and gave the film their blessing. That’s great, but the even greater thing is the fact that Sonic didn’t just look the part, but also acted the part as well. 

Sonic has had a long and storied career since he debuted back in 1991 on the Sega Genesis. In the video games, he started out as a teenager with attitude—you know, the kind who would tap his foot in frustration if you even dared to just stand still for a second. But, when it came to his portrayal in the cartoons, he was toned down substantially, even getting voiced by Steve Urkel himself, Jaleel White, in his earliest television incarnation.

Over the years, the cartoons and games have kind of skirted the line between kid and young adult Sonic, and the version we get in the film version is a perfect blend of both—part original Sonic the Hedgehog cartoon, part Sonic Boom. And, it really works. Pokemon Detective Pikachu really worked, too, but mostly because of Ryan Reynolds voicing Pikachu. 

Sure, I’ve seen every Resident Evil movie (and even ranked them), and liked them for the most part, but they also majorly mishandled most of the characters, which wasn’t good. No, the only video game movie I can honestly say that got the character just right—in both look and attitude—was Sonic the Hedgehog, and that’s no small feat, especially given that hideous first design.  

(Image credit: Paramount Pictures)

It Nods To The Fans, But Doesn’t Pander To Them 

One thing that I really love about the Sonic the Hedgehog movie is that it winks and nods to the fans with little nuggets from the series (like the Echidna Tribe in the beginning, and Sonic calling Robotnik “Eggman” later in the film), but it never just panders to them. Let me explain. A lot of video game movies, especially the most recent Resident Evil flick, Welcome to Raccoon City, are really starting to lean hard into the fact that they’re video game movies, making frequent references to the games, and when I was younger, I would have really loved that.

Now that I’m a grizzled old veteran of the console wars of 1993, I don’t really care about that anymore. What I care about is a good, heartfelt story with a lot of emotion and a few laughs here and there (which I’ll get to in a moment), and Sonic the Hedgehog delivers on all fronts. It was a smart move in essentially making it a buddy, road trip movie, and in that way, I never got bored with Sonic. In fact, between watching Jim Carrey being a complete weirdo and all the “Donut Lord” stuff with James Marsden, Sonic was a welcome fit in the rest of the story, never wearing out his welcome. Now that’s how you do it.

(Image credit: Paramount Pictures)

It Is Actually Funny When It Means To Be

Here’s another problem I have with most video game movies—the “humor” is typically horrendous, and most definitely cringe. Dating all the way back to Double Dragon (Uuuugg Leeeee) to the wild and silly Raul Julia M. Bison performance in Street Fighter that has been meme’d to death, humor in most video game movies is really trying way too hard to be funny. Oftentimes, I love this, since it dials up the cheese to a million, but again, I like those films BECAUSE they’re silly and camp. Not because they’re good.

That said, I genuinely laughed in Sonic the Hedgehog, on a number of occasions. I’m not saying I HA HA HA’d in the theater or anything like that, but I definitely smirked and enjoyed myself in all the moments that I was supposed to. Is the movie a little corny at times? Yeah, sure. But it’s supposed to be. The film definitely works as a comedy, but that’s not all that it works as, because…

(Image credit: Paramount Pictures)

It’s Also Heartfelt, And Effective, When It Means To Be

Honestly, this is what surprised me the most about the movie, especially on repeat viewings. Because I actually find myself emotionally invested in the movie when it hits all the downbeats. For example, when Sonic blows out the power grid because he feels so alone on the baseball field, I actually feel bad for him. And this is a character I’ve known for practically my entire life. I’ve thought Sonic was cool in the past, I thought he was fast, but never once in any of his games or TV shows did I actually feel bad for him.

When Sonic decides that he’s going to use his newfound powers to protect his friends, I’m totally and completely invested by that point in the story. Seriously, I had a feeling that the effects would be pretty cool before I saw the movie, and I thought I would likely get a chuckle or two out of the film, but I had no idea that I would feel emotionally invested, and Sonic the Hedgehog did that for me. It’s also the only video game movie that’s ever done that for me, which is just further proof for me of why it’s so good.

(Image credit: Paramount Pictures)

It Actually Makes Me Excited For The Sequel 

Lastly, this is the only video game movie that has actually made me excited for a sequel. The very first video game movie, Super Mario Bros., ends on a cliffhanger. But when I saw it back when I was a kid (I’ve learned to appreciate it as an adult), I genuinely did not want to see another second of those characters. That movie made me sick, and it was probably the biggest cinematic disappointment ever for me back then.

That said, I really, really want to watch Sonic the Hedgehog 2 (And Sonic the Hedgehog 3!), since I’m already deeply invested in these characters. There are hints that the sequel will be even closer to the video games, and I’m not quite sure how I feel about that, given how much I liked the first movie, but I’m game for anything now that the original movie is my favorite video game flick of all time.

Is Sonic the Hedgehog your favorite video game movie, too? For more news on Sonic the Hedgehog 2 and the 2022 movie releases, make sure to spin dash by here often.

Lover of Avatar (The Last Airbender, not the blue people), video games, and anything 90s, he will talk your ear off about Godzilla, so don’t get him started.

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