Back in 2020 Paramounts Sonic the Hedgehog managed to be one of the few films to get a proper theatrical release. In the weeks before the coronavirus pandemic rolled over the world in earnest the video game adaptation raked in a solid amount of money and won over fans who mightve been initially put off by the titular characters infamous first design. And so its with some high expectations that Sonic the Hedgehog 2 now arrives still flossing and lobbing Olive Garden jokes. Once again directed by Jeff Fowler the new film introduces several more elements from the games making for a more familiar Sonic story. Though it lacks the same zippy energy as the first film Sonic the Hedgehog 2 is bolstered by fun new characters and a perfectly wacky Jim Carrey.
Set sometime after the first movie speedy hedgehog Sonic voiced by Ben Schwartz is now happily settled in Green Hills with Donut Lord Tom James Marsden and Maddie Tika Sumpter. Life is good especially when Tom and Maddie jet off to Hawaii for a wedding leaving Sonic to indulge in some typical teenage antics while home alone. However his fun time is disrupted by the return of Dr. Eggman Robotnik Carrey now freed from the Mushroom Planet with the help of powerful new ally Knuckles the Echidna voiced by Idris Elba. Both Robotnik and Knuckles seek the Master Emerald an artifact with the immense power to destroy and remake the world and believe Sonic knows where it is. Aided by new friend Tails voiced by Colleen OShaughnessey Sonic must set out to find the Emerald before his enemies and prevent untold consequences.
With the introduction of not one but two prominent new characters and all the exposition needed to establish the Master Emerald Sonic the Hedgehog 2 is a bigger movie than before in many ways. That includes its runtime which pushes just past two hours when the previous film was roughly 20 minutes shorter. Fowler working off a screenplay by Pat Casey Josh Miller and John Whittington from a story by Casey and Miller admittedly does have a lot of ground to cover. However there are parts of Sonic the Hedgehog 2 that lag when it should be speeding forward. The occasional shifts to the human storyline over in Hawaii undercuts the urgency behind Sonics latest adventure even if it gives those like Sumpter and Natasha Rothwell as Maddies sister Rachel some great moments to shine. Also an epic brawl between Sonic and Knuckles at the end of the second act feels like a final battle so when theres still a decent amount of Sonic the Hedgehog 2 left to uncover it makes the overall movie feel longer than necessary.
Still when Sonic the Hedgehog 2 is really moving it is pretty energetic. Fowler stages plenty of action scenes for Sonic and while it could get dizzying for anyone not as familiar with the games fans of the character are bound to enjoy themselves. The additions of prominent game characters Tails and Knuckles are welcome ones though theres an argument to be made that Tails is underused. He and Sonic forge a solid friendship and Fowler was very smart to hire OShaughnessey the voice of Tails in the games for the film. However Knuckles is definitely Sonic the Hedgehog 2s standout. With his literal mindset and super strong fists he gets the deepest arc out of anyone here and Elbas gravelly voice is a perfect fit. He will bring out laughs in both kids and adults. Beyond that the quieter scenes between Knuckles and Sonic actually prove to be the beating heart of the film. Fowler handles those serious moments rather well though some elements dont always meld well with the lighthearted energy of the rest of Sonic the Hedgehog 2.
When it comes to the returning cast Schwartz maintains the same energy he had in the first movie shooting off references and quips in equal measure. He gets a few moments of vulnerability that allow him to give Sonic some additional shading. Of the performers who actually appear on screen Carrey continues to steal the show. He clearly understands the assignment giving a go for broke performance with Robotnik that has the exact kind of zany energy a video game villain needs. Marsden is charming but he unfortunately gets stuck with some of Sonic the Hedgehog 2s duller moments for most of his scenes. Toms relationship with Sonic gets a new layer in this installment that wont come as a surprise but it still gives Marsden the chance to inject some earnestness to the film. Those are his best moments.All told Sonic the Hedgehog 2 is more overstuffed than the last installment and that leads to some pacing and character issues across the board. Still this is a movie that manages to maintain the spirit of the games it is based on and it does so with a wide ranging soundtrack that features needledrops from Bruno Mars to Andy Williams. The cast shows up willing to play ball with Elba and Carrey standing as the MVPs. Sonic fans will likely have a good time with this one and while more general audiences might not understand the overall appeal theyll probably find some parts to enjoy as well.