After the outcry from the internet last year when the first trailer for the new Sonic the Hedgehog movie hit YouTube, which inspired not only a mass freakout over the character’s appearance but a release delay so that last-minute changes could be made, the movie’s release is finally at hand. And in advance of its debut in theaters this weekend, I must say — I’m pleasantly surprised at the at least modestly positive vibe that’s surrounding it in the final lead-up to the release.
“Was not expecting this, but @SonicMovie is a total delight,” tweeted one writer who got to see it early. Likewise, Haruki Satomi — the president of Sega’s parent company Sega Sammy — released a statement this week offering his support, noting that: “Sonic has been loved by fans worldwide for 29 years, and we’re thrilled for them to see his debut on the silver screen. Sonic’s personality, charm, and this story of friendship are complemented with fantastic non-stop action.” The movie has the potential to “warm the hearts of viewers of all ages,” he continued.
Another writer went so far as to say that Ben Schwartz’s voice work for Sonic is a little reminiscent of Robin Williams’ unforgettably manic vocal performance as the Genie in the original animated Aladdin:
The performance @rejectedjokes gives in #SonicMovie is iconic in the making. Like Robin Williams did for the Genie in Aladdin, he’s going to define this character (also blue) for an entire generation of kids. Oh and the rest of the movie is pretty great too—especially @JimCarrey. pic.twitter.com/nd72tPsiua
— Joshua H Weiss (@JoshuaHWeiss) February 8, 2020
The movie as of the time of this writing has a 67% critics score on Rotten Tomatoes — not great, but not bad. Here’s the thing, though. Paramount has at least an outside chance of being assured of at least modest success for Sonic, which would be a welcome reversal for the studio after a string of bombs like Gemini Man and The Rhythm Section. Paramount did this by controlling one of the few variables in the equation for success that’s within its power — the movie’s budget.
Sonic reportedly had a production budget of only $85 million, far smaller than that of recent fare like the $150 million Detective Pikachu, $138 million Gemini Man and $185 million Terminator: Dark Fate. Another good sign was the fact that the high-profile delay to tweak the movie’s effects a bit more didn’t run up the cost too much — only by $5 million or so, at most. We’ll have to wait and see what the final result is, if the movie was worth the wait or if a terrible injustice has been done to a character and franchise that carries a lot of nostalgia attached to it both from video gamers as well as the general public. But hey, at least Paramount won’t be too deep in the hole if it bombs, which has got to count for something.