REVIEW: ‘Sonic’ sequel caters to young audience

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I got one thing right in my review of 2020’s original “Sonic the Hedgehog” movie: kids will love it. So now we’ve got a sequel on our hands — “Sonic the Hedgehog 2” — and kids are going to love this one even more.

In today’s franchise-obsessed pop culture landscape, the characters of Sonic the Hedgehog have managed to survive for more than 30 years, between video games, cartoons and comic books. Now it seems the live action movies are a bonafide hit, playing up the recognizable cartoon critters for some real box office gold. Fortunately, the new sequel manages to have enough fun with these characters to make for a worthwhile trip to the local cinema.

“Sonic the Hedgehog 2” is playing in theaters and is not yet available for streaming.

In the sequel, the villainous Doctor Robotnik returns to Earth, determined to destroy Sonic the Hedgehog once and for all. He’s joined by new henchman Knuckles the Echidna, while Sonic is joined by kid sidekick Tails the Fox. If none of these names are recognizable, don’t worry, because your children probably know them and can’t wait to see them in action.

I did not care for the first “Sonic the Hedgehog” movie because it leaned far too heavily into the weird Hollywood tropes of teaming up classic cartoon characters with live action humans. “Sonic the Hedgehog 2” still has a problem with its forced human characters, but the sequel excels when it focuses on Sonic and his cartoon friends as they take on an out-of-control Jim Carrey, returning as the villainous Robotnik.

The new film fully embraces the ludicrous weirdness of putting these cartoon characters into a real world setting and that makes the whole experience a lot more fun. Just sit back, don’t worry about it and watch the heroes fight the bad guys, learn important life lessons and use their fancy super powers.

Save any skepticism for when “Sonic the Hedgehog 2” insists on doing something with their human characters. These characters have little to nothing to do with why people watch these movies or what people want to see. But the movie really wants the audience to care. There’s an extended sequence in the middle of the film set after a wedding in Hawaii that was so far removed from anything to actually do with Sonic the Hedgehog that I found myself wondering if I was still watching the same movie.

Fortunately, these moments don’t last too long, and then the movie goes back to embracing the characters and the fun that people actually want to see. Jim Carrey pushes himself to be as zany as possible, and the animation and voice acting on Sonic, Knuckles and Tails is top notch, so at least those parts of “Sonic the Hedgehog 2” should entertain your children just fine.

For more, check out the latest Sentinel Cinema podcast at:  https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/sonic-the-hedgehog-2/id1495021878?i=1000557499796

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