What’s the difference between Sonic the Hedgehog and Sonic the Hedgehog 2? Well pretty much nothing I suppose. Apart from the awesome fan service and the introduction of two iconic characters from the game, Sonic the Hedgehog 2 fails to build upon the first film and or explore the Sonic universe; adding nothing new or exciting to the franchise.
Now you might be saying, “didn’t they introduce Knuckles and Tails to this film?”… Well yes they did, however these characters take a back seat to both Sonic and Dr. Robotnik. The history behind both Knuckles and Tails is barely explored at all. We once again see Dr. Robotnik trying to destroy Sonic and achieve ultimate power. Want to know where I have seen that before…Sonic the Hedgehog, released in 2020. Majority of the film’s plot lazily follows the formula of the first film as there was nothing new or original when it came to the film’s story; oftentimes I found myself disengaged. Add in the ridiculous 2 hour and 6 minute runtime and this film just feels like a drag. With multiple ideas being shoved into this film and a completely pointless wedding subplot whose only purpose is to put Sonic & Tails into Hawaii to locate the master emerald; another “ultimate power” that they spend the entire film chasing.
Ben Schwartz returns as the little blue speed ball and newcomer Idris Elba does a fantastic job as voicing Knuckles who is pretty much a watered down version of Drax the Destroyer from Guardians of the Galaxy; but it is once again Jim Carrey as Dr. Robotnik who outright steals the show. His over-the-top hammy performance as Dr. Robotnik is such a delight to see on screen and elevates each scene he is in. The numerous jokes and witty quips are often hit or miss, mainly a miss; it is Jim Carrey reacting to what is happening around him or sneakily talking to himself as he is about to go rogue that generates the majority of genuine laughs.
Sonic the Hedgehog 2 at times has fantastic visual effects, the close up shots of Sonic, Tails and Knuckles is so incredibly detailed that you can see the fibers on their gloves and shoes and the textures and softness of their fur. However when the camera takes a step back and we see these animated creatures interacting with real world environments and people, then the animation doesn’t quite gel and comes off as cheap. The CGI elements of the films such as explosions and flashy coloured vortexes look incredibly out of place and don’t merge well with other VFX. The most interesting visual aspect of the film is in the opening 3 minutes as we meet Dr. Robotnik on a mushroom planet. The visual aesthetic of this planet is exactly what future Sonic films should explore instead of the typical small desert looking town. Tom Holkenborg once again composes the score for this film and with it is a rather generic and boarding musical score. The score is easily forgettable and nothing interesting to note as there is no core musical theme for Sonic for its viewers to get engaged to. The sound design in this film is also a little underwhelming, while the powerup sound effects for Sonic and Knuckles is fantastic and faithful to the video games, other sound aspects come off as rather bleak and boring. A missed opportunity in this film is by not having the iconic sound of Sonic losing his rings from the video game.
Hopefully in Sonic the Hedgehog 3 we can see Jim Carrey ‘come out of retirement’ to reprise his hammy role of Dr. Robotnik while also leaving Earth and exploring the many vast planets within the Sonic universe. Sonic the Hedgehog 2 follows similar plot beats to the first films and while it’s not as entertaining or humorous as its first outing, it does introduce new aspects to the Sonic lore and leave the door wide open for further exploring within the universe.