Sonic the Hedgehog

Year: 2020
Studio: Paramount
Director: Jeff Fowler
Writer: Josh Miller, Pat Casey
Cast: Ben Schwarz, James Marsden, Jim Carrey, Tika Sumpter, Neal McDonough, Michael Hogan

Ordinarily this is the kind of movie I'd give a very wide berth to, but I was interested for just one reason, and that was Jim Carrey in the cast. After his years as a $20m comedy star back in the 90s he seemed to either draw back from stardom or be left a bit behind as audiences and the industry moved on.

He took on more drama that commanded a little bit of attention (Man on the Moon, I Love You Phillip Morris), and more recently the media narrative of his TV series Kidding seemed to portray a bit of a sad clown archetype who'd come back from a wilderness of soul searching.

So I wondered whether appearing in something so blatantly commercial was like some kind of weird performance art thing, whether he was so seasoned an actor after this long he'd somehow hoodwink everyone and do something truly unexpected with the character of villain Dr Robotnik.

What he does with the role isn't exactly disappointing – he certainly colours within the lines of convention, but he does stand out even while using the script and direction he's given.

Beyond that, it's exactly what you expect. We meet Sonic (Ben Schwartz), with corrected teeth after the much-publicised social media dust-up over the character's original design, on his home planet when he and his kindly overseer (an owl for some reason), are attacked. She gives him a bag of magic rings that open portals to other planets, tells him to always keep his powers secret so he doesn't become a target and sacrifices herself while he escapes to Earth.

The writers, who include credited writers Pat Casey and Josh Miller (because this is the kind of project that probably went through a dozen of them) find their emotional stakes in Sonic's story ten years later because of how lonely he is – as an alien who can run at supersonic speeds he can't reveal himself to humanity.

He fancies himself friends with the local cop, Tom (James Marsden) and his wife Maddie (Tika Sumpter), hiding around their house and watching movies from outside their window while they do and pretending they're all together.

But one night it all becomes too much, Sonic racing around a baseball field so fast in frustration and sadness he causes a massive electromagnetic burst that shorts out half the state. The US military wants to know why, putting the eccentric Dr Ivo Robotnik (Carrey) on the case.

Sonic accidentally reveals himself to Tom, and after the latter gets over the initial shock they settle into what will become an enduring friendship. When Robotnik gets hold of one of Sonic's quills after a narrow escape, he realises the energy it contains and gets mad (der) with power.

It all plays out as you expect and I'd be lying if I said the story, effects and other accoutrements didn't hold my attention until the end, but while it's a pleasure to see Carrey at full steam again it wasn't quite the returning-to-mainstream-entertainment-ironically show I hoped for.

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