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As long as the Sonic sequels rely on its origins it will appeal to its fan base – young kids and more mature Sega enthusiasts.Courtesy of Paramount Pictures and Sega of America

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Sonic the Hedgehog 2

Directed by Jeff Fowler

Written by Patrick Casey, Josh Miller and John Whittington

Starring James Marsden, Ben Schwartz and Jim Carey

Classification PG; 122 minutes

Opens in theatres April 8

I don’t know about your kids, but mine had been waiting for Sonic the Hedgehog 2 ever since they saw the teaser at the end of the previous film. That was two years ago, pre-pandemic. “Tails!” they had both squealed as we sat through the credits and a two-tailed fox appeared on the screen. As we headed back home, my kids regaled me with the back story of Tails, whose real name apparently is Miles Prower.

I promptly forgot about it all, but my kids didn’t. And so they were thrilled at the prospect of watching the beloved blue hedgehog and the speedy shenanigans he would get up to in the sequel. As were many other kids in the packed cinema hall, attending an advance screening this past weekend. They loved the wisecracking Sonic (Ben Schwartz), who now has a new friend, Tails (Colleen O’Shaughnessey), to lift him out of sticky situations. And he has a new foe, Knuckles (Idris Elba), along with the manic Dr. Robotnik, a.k.a. Eggman (Jim Carey), to contend with, as they all go looking for an emerald with amazing powers – to make thoughts come true. In the wrong hands, the emerald could destroy the world. It’s up to Sonic and his friends to prevent such a catastrophe.

Sonic 2 opens where the previous movie left off. Robotnik is making the most of his time on Mushroom Planet, building elaborate Rube Goldberg machines and concocting mushroom tea. His demeanour might make some adults ponder the benefits of the magical varietals of the fungi, but the younger ones will be tickled to discover Carrey’s trademark elastic-faced acting on full display. A little less than a year into his exile, Dr. Robotnik comes into contact with Knuckles, who’s got an old bone to pick with Sonic.

Meanwhile, Sonic is trying to find his purpose in the not-so-quiet Montana town of Green Hill. Living as the adopted son of Tom Wachowski (James Marsden) and Maddie (Tika Sumpter), Sonic wants to be a hero. He even gives himself a cute superhero name. But as Tom tells him, his moment is yet to come, and he needs to do some growing up in the meantime.

After dispensing this fatherly advice, Tom, along with Maddie, leaves for a wedding in Hawaii – a subplot that doesn’t add much to the story save a few chuckles, mostly thanks to Natasha Rothwell playing Maddie’s sister Rachel with verve. Yes, yes, Shemar Moore is there also, shirtless for a brief spell, true to the characters he usually plays. But honestly, this diversion is a total distraction from the main chase; I found myself suddenly fascinated by Marsden’s and Moore’s rather crinkly-eyed smiles, and remembering that Marsden once starred in 27 Dresses. YouTuber Preston Arsement makes a blink-and-you-miss-it appearance, which my kids were looking out for – since Preston had shown some behind the scenes footage on his YouTube channel. Clever ploy by the filmmakers, but totally irrelevant to the story.

Jim Carrey as the manic Dr. Robotnik in Sonic The Hedgehog 2.Courtesy of Paramount Pictures and Sega of America

Unlike the first movie, where aspects of the video game were more seamlessly integrated into the plot, Sonic 2 relies more on generic themes such as friendship and loyalty, as well as what makes a hero. There are all sorts of ‘90s references – from chase scenes and romcom repartee to hip hop songs – thrown in for the adults, no doubt. The visual effects aspect of the movie largely works – the human co-stars are able to interact for the most part, barring a few awkward moments, with the CGI characters in a believable manner. However, at just over two hours long, the movie does meander.

As long as the Sonic sequels rely on its origins, weaving in aspects of the game into its narrative and keeping pace with the speedy hedgehog, it will appeal to its fan base – young kids and more mature Sega enthusiasts. As you might have guessed, there’s yet another teaser in the credits of Sonic 2. Once again the kids squealed, as did many adult fans in the theatre. And once again, I was regaled with stories of a new character as we made our way out.

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