“Sonic the Hedgehog’s” Rotten Tomato score suggests that Hollywood may have finally cracked the code on how to successfully take a video game character onto the big screen, but a closer inspection of critic reviews tells another story.
After all, the film currently has a 66% “Fresh” rating on Rotten Tomatoes from 80 reviews. As more reviews come in, the rating for “Sonic the Hedgehog” may change slightly.
Still, it’s clear that not all critics were charmed by the fast-talking blue blur from Sega’s beloved video games.
“Another shambling 1990′s I.P. gets its shot at relevance, but this unfunny and ultimately dull attempt makes you wonder how so many talented artists made something so lame,” Evan Dossey, writer at Midwest Film Journal, said in his review of the film.
The majority of the praise that was given to the film was for Jim Carrey, who portrays the villain Dr. Ivo “Eggman” Robotnik, and the return of his exaggerated and unpredictable comedic antics. His performance was often cited as the perfect counterbalance to a script comprised of “derivative” storytelling and “skimpy” character development.
“Paramount famously reworked Sonic’s initially teeth-sporting look when the first trailer triggered something akin to online panic; perhaps fans should have been consulted on the script as well,” Michael Gingold, writer for Time Out, wrote in his review of the film.
The film centers on Sonic, an anthropomorphic blue hedgehog from another dimension, who travels to Earth to escape those that want to harness his power of super-speed. After accidentally causing a massive power outage in the small town he is hiding out in, Sonic grabs the attention of a local cop and a sinister government scientist.
When the film’s first trailer dropped last May, longtime fans of the speedy blue hedgehog found the character’s facial features, including human-like teeth, and his body proportions to be inconsistent with the Sonic they grew up with in the ’90s.
While the visual effects have been lauded as a stunning improvement over the initial design of Sonic, critics are less unified on their opinion of the overall film.
For some, “Sonic” was a “funny, fizzing family film” that play homage to its video game inspiration.
“Those expecting a train wreck on the level of ‘Cats’ will walk away disappointed,” Alistair Ryder, writer at The Digital Fix, said of the film. “It’s a frequently fun family film that will leave younger audiences delighted, and surprise older ones convinced it was a disaster in the making.”
Not everyone was endeared by “Sonic,” however.
“Sonic now resembles a cartoon hedgehog instead of a spray-painted marmot,” Ben Kenigsberg, writer at the New York Times, wrote. “But if anything was done to de-genericize the script, it hasn’t helped.”
The reviews are par for the course for a video game adaption. Past attempts at capturing the essence of beloved video game franchises like “Tomb Raider,” “Prince of Persia” and “Resident Evil” haven’t been well-received by critics, even if some have managed to be successful at the box office.
Still, the track record isn’t inspiring. The highest-grossing video game adaptation at the box office is “Warcraft,” based on the World of Warcraft online game. It hauled in $433.6 million in 2016, but has a 28% rating on Rotten Tomatoes.
Currently “Sonic” is expected to garner $35 million to $45 million from Friday through Sunday, as it is one of the few family film options in theaters and many Sonic video game lovers are predicted to see the flick. For the full holiday weekend, analysts are anticipating the film will take in between $50 million and $60 million, as many schools are closed Monday for President’s Day.
Here’s a rundown of what critics have said of “Sonic the Hedgehog” ahead of its Feb. 14 opening:
Michael Gingold, Time Out
Gingold was not enamored with “Sonic the Hedgehog.” He gave the film two-out-of-five stars, calling it “yet another addition to the cannon of disappointing video-game-to-movie translations.”
″‘Sonic the Hedgehog’ is another demonstration of the things that tend to go wrong when a movie is spun out from source material with little plot and skimpy characterisation,” he wrote.
Gingold criticized the film for being “derivative” and said the character of Sonic “is an inveterate babbler who gleans only intermittent laughs.”
Bilge Ebiri, Vulture
For Bilge Ebiri of Vulture, “Sonic the Hedgehog” feels like it was written and greenlit decades ago.
“This year’s ‘Sonic the Hedgehog’ could have been the biggest hit of 1996, in ways both good and bad,” he wrote in his review.
For him, like many critics, the standout of the feature was Carrey who brandishes his classic exaggerated speech to deliver absurd lines like “I’m the top banana … in a world full of hungry monkeys,” all the while twirling a thick, curling mustache.