I’ve been a fan of Sonic the Hedgehog since the ‘90s, so I’m used to being disappointed. Nonetheless, nothing could possibly prepare me for the abomination that is the movie depiction of Sonic in the recent trailer. The trouble is, I don’t think it’s entirely Paramount’s fault. It’s like watching a friend make a fool out of themselves whilst drunk: yes, they’ll regret it later, but I can’t help feeling that I’m partially responsible. I’m not in the movie or its production team, but I’m one of many thousands who essentially shaped what it’s become. Allow me to explain why.
As I mentioned earlier, it was back in the heady days of the 1990s that I got into the little blue fella, and it’s that era of Sonic that really grabbed me the most. I’ve played a lot of the newer games, but it’s the Mega Drive games that I go back to time and again, while Sonic and the Secret Rings sits gathering dust on the shelf. When Sonic Mania came out, I was one of the voices proudly exclaiming that it was one of the best Sonic games ever and we should have more like this. When the first title was re-released on the Sega Ages label for the Switch, I picked it up and played through again on another new system. Basically, I really like ‘90s Sonic games. We all do right? So clearly what I love is nostalgia, and the movie creators have spotted this fact.
Back in the day, a lot of videogames got low budget, dreadful looking movies. The Street Fighter and Super Mario Brothers franchises spring to mind, but there were countless others. There was a very “bloke with fur glued to him” look to the monsters and that was fine at the time because we didn’t have better technology. Half the CGI for these sorts of films was done on an Amiga for heaven’s sake, it was never going to look fluid and high-end. The internet is currently awash with memes pointing out how the Sonic model looks a lot like the monkey kid from the original Jumanji. I’m not sure this is unintentional though, this is kind of what we asked for when we all pointed at modern Sonic in unison and said "no".
If the model of Sonic is grounded in the ‘90s, then the choice of Jim Carrey as Robotnik is even more retro. He’s not Robotnik, not even close, but he’s very clearly just Jim Carrey. It might as well be Ace Ventura: Sonic Detective considering the way he’s playing the role. He’s wacky, rude and loud. So it’s probably how he would have played the character if the movie was released in the early days of Sonic. We wanted old school, and we got old school. Turns out we didn’t really want old school, at least not this kind of old school, but it’s too late now.
There are so many call-backs to the old days here, it’s almost as if this was a film that got made at the time and only got released now. I know that isn’t the case, but it feels like that’s what they are going for. The Matrix-style bullet-time, Coolio on the soundtrack, Genesis puns (which don’t work in the UK anyway); all of it adds up to the most ‘90s film to be released this decade and we indirectly asked for it. I’m not saying that modern Sonic games haven’t been largely shit, they have, but did we get a bit too critical and a little more nostalgic than we ought to have?
Watching the Sonic trailer reminded me a lot of the time that I bought a Peppa Pig birthday cake from Tesco after a particularly bad day at work. It seemed like a good idea at the time: it was very cheap as it went out of date the next day, and I like cake. After you’ve shoved half a kilo of pink frosting and madeira sponge into your face though, you realise that maybe you didn’t like it THAT much. Right now, I’m realising that I feel the same way about nostalgia.