‘Sonic the Hedgehog 2’ Movie Review: Knuckles and Tails Join the Live-Action Franchise

Sonic the Hedgehog 2 further expands on the mythology of its predecessor. The inclusion of more recognizable faces, such as Knuckles and Tails, will delight video game franchise fans. However, this sequel once again tries too hard to force comedy that doesn’t land, rather than focus on the action and adventure that are the real highlight of the movie.

‘Sonic the Hedgehog 2’ introduces new friends and foes

'Sonic the Hedgehog 2' Knuckles (voiced by Idris Elba) and Sonic (voiced by Ben Schwartz) colliding with each other with energy in between them
L-R: Knuckles (voiced by Idris Elba) and Sonic (voiced by Ben Schwartz) | Paramount Pictures/Sega

Dr. Ivo Robotnik (Jim Carrey) is a mad scientist who still resides on the Mushroom Planet, but finally discovered a way to use Sonic’s (voiced by Ben Schwartz) quill to make contact with another world in the hopes of returning to Earth. Robotnik meets Knuckles the Echidna (voiced by Idris Elba), who is also seeking out Sonic to find the powerful Master Emerald.

Meanwhile, Sonic is living as Tom (James Marsden) and Maddie’s (Tika Sumpter) child. The couple heads off to Hawaii for Rachel’s (Natasha Rothwell) wedding, leaving the blue hedgehog in charge of the house while they’re gone. A fox named Tails (voiced by Colleen O’Shaughnessey) arrives to warn Sonic of Knuckles’ arrival. The entire universe rests in the balance of them protecting the Master Emerald.

Director Jeff Fowler explores responsibility and friendship

Sonic the Hedgehog 2 brings audiences back to the strange Mushroom Planet at the beginning, which has an abundance of mushroom puns. Meanwhile, Sonic is now a crime fighter named “Blue Justice,” making several references to Batman. There are a lot of pop culture references and dad jokes going on to appeal to older audiences. Pat Casey, Josh Miller, and John Whittington’s screenplay jumps in a lot of directions.

Director Jeff Fowler tries to balance the Sonic and Knuckles saga while simultaneously juggling the wedding shenanigans with Tom and Maddie. Every character seems to wrestle with the notion of feeling like an outsider. As a result, they have difficulty finding their footing in new environments, facing personal stakes that connect to consequences from the previous installment.

Sonic the Hedgehog 2 connects its theme of exclusion with the connection to a chosen family. They are each in pursuit of a journey that appears to be their own but discovers others along the way to join their quest. As a result, they end up realizing that they were never truly alone. It’s a sweet message that highlights how friendship and family can be one and the same.

‘Sonic the Hedgehog 2’ only thrives in its ‘Sonic Heroes’-adjacent action sequences

'Sonic the Hedgehog 2' Tails (voiced by Colleen O'Shaughnessey) standing in the forest looking determined
Tails (voiced by Colleen O’Shaughnessey) | Paramount Pictures/Sega of America

Fowler’s sequel doubles down on Sonic in his adolescence. It’s a bit of a strange choice that will connect with younger audiences but creates a bit of a disconnect from the longtime Sonic fans. Sonic the Hedgehog 2 tries to relate with older audiences through pop culture jokes. Home Alone and real-life political speeches are tapped into but fall short.

Sonic the Hedgehog 2 shines in its big action set pieces. A race down a snow-covered hill perfectly fits into the spirit of the more recent video game installments. Meanwhile, some of the more combat-oriented action sequences are similar to Sonic Heroes. They will instantly bring the little kid out of every longtime fan. However, these moments are few and far between.

Robotnik remains a painful crutch in this sequel. His costume once again reads as bad cosplay with Carrey’s humor simply not translating to the character. Meanwhile, we’re somehow supposed to believe that Marsden is out-of-shape and non-athletic. This strange series of scenes pull attention away from Sonic’s adventure.

Sonic the Hedgehog 2 is an improvement over its predecessor thanks to the introduction of Knuckles and Tails. However, it still falls short due to sedate humor and muddy story direction. However, there are some action sequences that longtime Sonic fans have been waiting to see in a live-action adaptation for years. It isn’t the worst video game adaptation out there, but overall, Sonic deserves a much more speedy and punchy silver screen presence.

Sonic the Hedgehog 2 zooms into theaters on April 8.

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