Yesterday, at the conclusion of the era I'll hereafter refer to as "B.F.S" ("Before Flesh Sonic"), we received a glimpse of what Sonic the Hedgehog will look like when he comes to the silver screen later this year. The internet's opinions range from "Well, that's not as bad as I expected," to "Here we are, definitive proof God and his Host have forgotten humankind."
My reaction is somewhere in the middle. Sonic's definitely less unsettling than the silhouette inflicted upon us at the end of last year; as Matt points out, Paramount seems to have made changes based on public feedback (i.e. the horrified screams that permeated social media that day). Granted, I still feel like I ought to avoid looking directly at movie Sonic for the same reason I wouldn't look at the sun. I'm just saying if movie Sonic was a distant relative and my mother pushed me forward while insisting I hug him, I'd grit my teeth and do it without feeling too nauseated.
They made Sonic the Hedgehog look like the mascot for a disease in a pharmaceutical ad pic.twitter.com/RG1u8KOQjV— Mike Drucker (@MikeDrucker) March 4, 2019
I think movie Sonic's design ultimately hovers between "creepy" and "boring," and that's not a great place to be. While Sonic's design has some interesting compromises (Sonic's traditional "uni-eye" is usually reserved for the Beasts of Hell, so movie Sonic has two eyes separated by a stripe of white fur), its compromise between the weird and the mundane has me worried that's what the whole movie is going to be like. We already know movie Sonic lives in San Francisco for some reason; we've already seen the poster of him peeing (or worse) all over the Golden Gate Bridge. We already know movie Sonic is a naughty 'hog with attitude who goes for an extended ride-along with a police officer. When I look at movie Sonic, then look at our world filled with naked apes of varying hues (but no radioactive blue tones amongst us), I wonder how Paramount intends to stitch the two realities together without boring me. I'm curious—even open to being pleasantly surprised!—but not hopeful.
I've said this before, but I believe one of the biggest reasons the Detective Pikachu movie trailers have proven wildly popular is because Warner Bros. closed its eyes, held out its arms, and did a free-fall into the unapologetic weirdness of the Pokémon universe. There's still a chance the Detective Pikachu movie will blow chunks (wouldn't it be hilarious to live in a future where Detective Pikachu turned out to be a massive let-down while the Sonic movie proved an excellent video game movie can be done), but I became less sure of it when the second trailer dropped.
Last month we learned Ryme City and its inhabitants are even weirder, uglier, and cuter than we ever imagined. Nothing short of stoneclad confidence in video games' bizarre-but-compelling lore will make a movie like Detective Pikachu or Sonic the Hedgehog work. The Sonic movie has a furry protagonist who's weird-looking, to be sure, but not weird enough to make me say "Damn, that's crazy! I wonder what shenanigans this hedgehog's going to get into?" Detective Pikachu has a bug-eyed Ludicolo who barks out her own name before serving up coffee—and that's just for starters. There are also Greninja assassins, Bulbasaurs with eyes big enough to melt your heart, and a scarred Charizard who appears to be a favored pet of a Pokémobster. I want to visit Ryme City and see its wonderful sights. I don't necessarily want to visit San Francisco featuring Sonic the Weirdhog.
I still feel like Paramount missed a big opportunity by not giving us a movie where Sonic rescues his buddies from a mad scientist who tries to roboticize them while also belching pollution into pristine wildlands. Heck, the environmental message accompanying the early Sonic games is ripe for revival. In any case, I doubt the Sonic movie will be unwatchable. I foresee it falling into the wind-blasted wasteland where game movies go to die after fans of the adapted property say, "This movie doesn't understand what makes the game charming," and non-gaming movie critics say, "What the hell am I looking at?" Prove me wrong, Sonic! Prove me wrong! Or at least give us a movie that's so bad it's good, a la the first Super Mario Bros. film and Street Fighter.