The Horrifying Live-Action Movie Sonic Should Have Taken a Few Lessons From Detective Pikachu

The Horrifying Live-Action Movie Sonic Should Have Taken a Few Lessons From Detective Pikachu

STARTING SCREEN | It doesn't take a detective to figure out why the Sonic the Hedgehog movie poster isn't a hit.

Earlier today the world received a sneak peak at Sonic for the upcoming 2019 Sonic the Hedgehog film. All credit where it's due, the preview—a "moving poster" featuring a silhouette of the hedgehog's in-movie form—sure livened an otherwise dreary December Monday. Nothing jazzes up a quiet afternoon like the collective internet shrieking in horror and throwing holy water at their monitors.

The silhouette is our first glimpse of "live action" Sonic, and he looks…wrong. Like, the logical part of my brain informs me "This is Sonic the Hedgehog," but my instincts whisper "He might be carrying a disease. Don't get too close to him; you'll die."

On one hand, maybe it's not fair to judge Sonic's in-movie model according to a single image shrouded in shadow. On the other hand, Sonic's obscured details just make the poster more unsettling. It's like waiting for a carnival barker to pull the sheet off an alligator with two heads. You can see the second snout writhing under the sheet, and you know the reveal is going to be horrific, but you can't turn away.

Moreover, as Twitter user "CrookedKnight" pointed out to me, a well-established game character like Sonic already has a distinct silhouette and messing with it makes people understandably uncomfortable. Game Sonic's arms and legs are weird and noodly, but they've been that way for decades. We're used to them. Movie Sonic's legs have muscular definition. His hands are child-size. His feet are small, but still equipped with (realistic) runners. His head is huge. His snout appears to be pointed, much in the manner of a real hedgehog. One of his eyes seems to be bulging [retch].

I think Paramount is trying to compromise with Movie Sonic by making him a cartoon / game character while also bestowing him with earthly hedgehog traits. Problem with that is we can already tell Sonic has his trademark spines, and they're covered in fur instead of quills. I'm afraid when Paramount finally flicks the lights on, we're going to see a godless animal-person hybrid with wet eyes and a quivering nose. Worst of all, he'll be naked save for a pair of red shoes and fur the color of lethally radioactive cobalt.

The reaction to Sonic the Wronghog is overwhelmingly negative on social media—a complete 180 compared to the excited gibbering over the Detective Pikachu Pokémon movie trailer unveiled last month. Both feature weirdly-textured fantasy animals interacting with regular human beings, so why are people looking forward to Detective Pikachu but vomiting over Mr Needlemouse's Big Live-Action Adventure?

I think the nature of each film's reveal has something to do with it. Detective Pikachu didn't give us shadowy movie posters; it threw us in the deep end with its first trailer. It said, "Here's how all your favorite Pokémon look in the real world. Love it or lump it." Once we got over the initial shock of hitting the cold water (i.e. once we got over seeing the baby-fuzz on top of Mr Mime's head), most of us did fall in love with Detective Pikachu's world.

That segues into the second thing Detective Pikachu's trailer does right: It shows us a world that is unapologetically in love with its source material. The live-action Pokémon look strange, yes, but there's no question they're as much a part of protagonist Tim Goodman's city as the cars and traffic lights. Brief as it is, the Detective Pikachu movie trailer even lets us glimpse Pokémon where we might expect to see them if they lived on our plane of existence. We see a family of squirrel-like Emolga in repose atop some signs. We see a Charmander help a street food vendor cook with the aid of its tail-flame. We see a mean-looking Charizard engage in a pit-fight. We see a herd of Bulbasaur splash through the waters of a lush green forest.

What little we know about the Sonic movie indicates Paramount isn't ready to be as bold with the hedgehog's world. Sonic is "a juvenile delinquent" who's roped into a buddy cop adventure.

"[Sonic is] in a pretty straight rural environment with a local policeman," Paramount pictures CEO Jim Gianopulos told Deadspin last summer. "[The movie script] was instantly engaging and it was good enough where you could see where it’s going."

Eesh.

I get why Paramount's nervous about committing to a property as bonkers as Sonic the Hedgehog, but you can't go halfway with a concept like "This talking blue animal saves forest animals from a mad scientist who's also a Beatles reference." You go hard, or you go home. The Sonic movie needs to bare its chest and say, "This is going to be a movie about a fast hedgehog who saves the world with the help of his friends, god damn it." The Sonic the Hedgehog comic lasted for 24 years under Archie, and it's currently thriving under IDW. There's clearly something interesting to work with, story-wise.

Well, the Sonic movie clearly made a mistake with this poster, but all's not lost. Maybe the movie will end up being great. Maybe this time next year, we'll all be eating crow—though just thinking about Sonic's hairy drumstick bulging in his movie poster silhouette is enough to make me swear off eating any kind of muscle meat forever. Ugh. From now on, I'm sticking to salted offal.

Major Game Releases This Week: December 10 to December 14

  • Forza Horizon 4 Fortune Island Expansion [December 13, PC, Xbox One]: It's a quiet week for game releases, which isn't surprising for the tail-end of the year. Everyone's kind of winding down, like animals bedding for the winter. Fast cars never hibernate, though. Forza Horizon 4, this year's best racing / driving game (the 2018 Game Awards confirmed it, and we concur), is getting its Fortune Island expansion this week. That means more cars, more achievements, more speed, and more insane terrain to hurtle through at breakneck speed. Buckle up, Homestuck.

Nadia's Note Block Beat Box: Smashing Song of Praise / Unfounded Revenge (Super Smash Bros)

Fans of the Smash series aren't big on some of the mechanics introduced in Super Smash Bros Brawl for the Wii, but nobody argues its excellence as a showcase for fandom in general. Music remixes and tributes are a major part of the Smash series, and Brawl's robust song selection is to thank for the start of the trend.

Smashing Song of Praise / Unfounded Revenge remixes and combines the songs of the same name from Mother 3. Both tend to play when you come up against Porky's insufferable Pig Army and / or their twisted chimera creations. The result is a medley that really gets your blood pumping, and I can confirm Smashing Song of Praise / Unfounded Revenge is still a powerful battle anthem in Super Smash Bros Ultimate. Speaking of Smash, it's interesting how Brawl introduced many of us to Lucas the same way Melee introduced us to Fire Emblem. But while Nintendo still feeds Fire Emblem to the West, Mother 3…well, not so much.

This Week's News and Notes

  • Faithful freelancer Doc Burford submitted an excellent piece about the "Fall and Rise" of the Xbox One. Microsoft's follow-up to the tremendous Xbox 360 had a sluggish start, but Microsoft's definitely making moves to set things right.
  • Panzer Dragoon remakes? Sign me up for all of that, and give me a remake of Panzer Dragoon Saga for dessert. Oh, and I'll take a remake of Panzer Dragoon Orta as an appetizer, please.
  • Happy 25th anniversary, Doom! Gosh, I remember playing iD Software's iconic 3D shooter on my family's 486. The machine lacked a soundcard, so every gun made an awful blee-blee-blee sound. Still loved the hell out of the game, pun fully intended.
  • Look for more Monster Hunter World in 2019, including new maps, new monsters, new stories, and hopefully new yummy recipes from the kitty crew at the canteen.
  • Joker is coming to Smash and I'm still not over it.
  • Apropos of nothing, I spent the weekend watching Skull-face Bookseller Honda-san, an anime about a skeletal bookseller working in a Japanese manga shop. I love everything about it, from the rare look behind the scenes of Japanese retail to poor Honda-san's attempt to explain to a customer why his shop doesn't carry tentacle hentai dojinshi ("JESUS CHRRRRIST!").
  • Axe of the Blood God: This week, Kat and I discuss the year that was. That means we gab about this year's big RPG releases, from Octopath Traveler to Dragon Quest XI to Ni no Kuni 2. Next week, the entire USgamer staff chimes in on their favorite games of the year!

Well, that wraps it up for another Monday. Have a great—holy shit, it's Godzilla!

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Nadia Oxford

Staff Writer

Nadia has been writing about games for so long, only the wind and the rain (or the digital facsimiles thereof) remember her true name. She's written for Nerve, About.com, Gamepro, IGN, 1UP, PlayStation Official Magazine, and other sites and magazines that sling words about video games. She co-hosts the Axe of the Blood God podcast, where she mostly screams about Dragon Quest.

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