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So, I'm a middle-aged gamer who has seen his fair share of video game adaptations over the course of my life. Some have been worthwhile viewings (yes I did like Spirits Within and Silent Hill 1 and 2) and others have been less than watchable (Super Mario Brothers and Street Fighter). I do still watch all of them as gaming has always been a part of my life, dare I say hobby of mine throughout my life and though Hollywood has often failed to capture the essence of a video game property in film and to be honest its a hard sell, especially dependent on the source material since in some cases some IPs are like in Sonic's case a platformer with a very thin plot to pull from.
I gotta say that I am a cinephile. I watch just about everything from documentaries about the Roosevelts to the next Marvel property. I like chick flicks (sorry if that's offensive but back in my day romance movies were called them) to sports dramas (I'm a sucker for a good romantic comedy). So when I go into any movie any review or judgement I have of them isn't pinpointed on the minutiae of each aspect, but more of "did this film do its job given its genre, story, and presentation."
Enter this film. And I've got to say it does its job, and quite well in my humble opinion. Sure, naysayers will decry its lack of originality, pulling from a plethora of movie tropes to edge the story along at times and they would be 100% correct. However, this is a movie based on a video game. There's no one in the entirety of the fanbase of the Sonic games nor of movies in general who would expect any Oscar worthy quality here. This isn't art, it isn't a statement, it isn't a documentary. What it is is a popcorn munching romp through nostalgia and kiddie humor that for the young and old alike can be a pleasurable viewing.
It isn't an adaptation of the Sonic games, either. That would be a fruitless effort. Unlike say the Resident Evil series where there is an entire set of lore laid out over a half dozen or so games Sonic as stated before is a platformer, which to the uninitiated is a game where you go from A to B avoiding obstacles and challenges to cross the finish line--multiple times per game until the final boss is defeated. There's not much room for story in that sort of game, and in the 80s and 90s when video games were still in their adolescence they were the bread and butter of the gaming community. Sonic is no different. He has a penchant for saving animals, he fights against Robotnik who enslaves the animals in his robots, and he goes fast. Pretty simple
Sonic the movie, however, does a splendid job of elevating those simplistic details in the character of Sonic and applies it to the real world, our world. Its Sonic if he was away from the realm of the games and hiding out in the Earth world as we know it. The rings are there, Robotnik's there, going fast is there. Job done. The rest of the film is a touching tale of friendship, family, and belonging. True, the material is cliche, and trite in places--but in 2020 aside from going insane with a story what originality can you honestly pull off anymore? *see all the remakes, reboots, and sequels if you don't believe me* Its a touching film on one hand, a laugh-out-loud romp at times, and fast paced when it needs to be. Some of the bits were on the verge of being "aw come on" moments but as I stated before, its meant to be entertainment, not film history.
Jim Carrey does an amazing job in his overacting way of acting to hyper animate Robotnik in a way that makes him comical, yet diabolical. He's intelligent, and quite vile in his treatment of everyone else (as they are lesser creatures to him) and he definitely makes you want to hate him. James Marsden brings the small town cop role to life, he's amiable and capable without being a yokel. A few supporting cast members do decent jobs of being filler around the main few characters but Sonic and Robotnik are the show here, they're from the games, they're who you've came to see.
If you're a fan of the Sonic series definitely see it, give it some love. Its worth respecting the work the studio did to produce it, and then reproduce it to update the Sonic cgi to be more respective of the source material. Don't expect to be wowed by any Oscar worthy performances or cinematography, but do expect to be pleasantly surprised, as I was, that for once the gaming community finally has a decent movie to entertain us without needing to hold a controller to do so.
As far as video game movies go, and there's a storied history of video game adaptation failures to pull from, I'd say there's no reason to pan this for its lack of direct source material matching. The original game(s) had very little interaction with other humans, and in a game where there is a protagonist and noisy villains/creatures there's a lot of padded exposition that MUST be added in order to be engaging as a film. Visually it follows the art style of the games (imo), and as far as the story, it blends several themes from different installments of the video game franchise into one. This and its predecessor are one of my favorite films (if the list is minimum 25) as it brings to cinema a game series I fully enjoyed. It doesn't add any sort of scare to me as a viewer as the games did as a player but there isn't anything at risk (dying, restarting from previous save point) in watching a film. I challenge any fans who were at first bothered by these movies to watch again some time later, and see if they don't find some nostalgia even if it isn't a perfect rehash of the original works. You might find many movies you once hated are something to be appreciated over time (*cough* Last Jedi*)
Captain Marvel was an interesting installment into the MCU. However, it did seem like many other people have said to be just a quickly written origin story to bring one of the new banner wearers of the Avengers in a post-Endgame world into the Universe. Larson offers a decent portrayal, but smug in delivery which makes her humor seem out of place even if some of the jokes were quite quippy. The few twists that exist in the story were actually somewhat a surprise, even if there is little risk/reward for any of the struggles she endures throughout the film. There seemed to be more focus on building her up as a leading powerful [future] leader of the Avengers without all that messy stuff of character development and people skills (which of course would never be useful in leading a squad of heroes from all backgrounds would it?).
As far as the politics that many were afraid of ruining the movie goes, its there. It isn't easily missable even if you have turned off your brain while watching. It gets a bit heavy handed especially when "I'm Just a Girl" starts playing in a fight sequence, not exactly a heart pounding track to match the fury of fisticuffs--but it does bring a laugh to the lips all the same. Messaging is something that is becoming prevalent in all movies of late, something viewers are going to have to understand is a part of our film world now especially in franchises that are popular and such messaging can reach a broad audience. One would do well to either ignore new and popular films altogether or come to the understanding that production companies see film as a way to inject a little "Captain Planet" mentality into their films to raise awareness (even if we do go to movies to escape such preachiness).
Visually, like all the newer Marvel movies go, this film is saturated by bluescreen animation. Unlike movies from 10-20 years ago, though, it looks great, and is easily accepted by your eyes (until she goes Binary which of course is the least realistic looking form of hers which I mean come on, we're watching a comic book heroine movie not a crime drama). And, when she finally has all the restrictions off her, she becomes undoubtedly overpowered even for the most threatening of her challenges in the movie. What little struggle she has in going from the amnesiac to the hero is literally just flipped on without much real discovery. There's no learning curve, no small scenes of "whoa my hands can do that?" or "wow i can achieve flight?" or "I can go into hyperactive mode?" I hate to throw the term out there but it smacks of a Mary Sue version of a superhero. And this divine understanding of powers she barely recollects she gained is supposed to represent real "Girl Power"? Come on, if you're going to promote a film as such you need to work harder at showing the audience more of her reaching for and achieving that sort of leader/powerful/role model to show other young girls how they, too can overcome. Just saying you are isn't enough. As I said before it seems this was more of a quick origin story. It also serves as an afternoon snack between Marvel movies before the premier of Endgame.
I will say one of the most disappointing things about the movie is the discovery of how Fury ended up with the eye patch. After all these years, and all the emphasis of the "Last time i trusted someone I lost an eye" meme it seemed haphazardly written in that the cat would be the culprit. And, Fury being so forgiving towards it in the aftermath. For someone who would eventually become the famously grumpy S.H.I.E.L.D. director who would state such aforementioned quote and yet see him changed into a cat lady without any real change in tone after the swipe didn't make sense to me. Its not a deal breaker for the film, just a disappointment in my eye. Would have been better Carol accidentally did it to him in the discovery of her powers somehow.
Specific shout-out to Disney/Marvel for their work making Samuel L. Jackson and Clark Gregg look decades younger. Not only did they do it exceptionally well, but they also had to do it throughout the film, something thus far has not been achieved as well for anything at least I have seen in my lifetime.
Not a bad movie, worth watching if you're going to one day binge the assumedly-soon-to-be-Infinity-Saga-box-set but definitely not something I would see a second time in the theater. The story is decent, animation on point, and the acting was great. Larson could have had a bit more personality and not so stern which would counterpoint her humor better but with a universe of superheroes already oversaturated its going to be difficult to stand out, even if you have all of media trying to prop you up in it.