Even though 2020’s Sonic the Hedgehog had mixed reviews and whipped up an internet firestorm for Sonic’s CGI looks (which got fixed), it still managed to make a whopping $185 mill at the box office. Can you say sequel?
To recap, Sonic (voiced by Ben Schwartz), a blue, furry, lightning-fast teenage alien hedgehog got adopted by humans Tom & Maddie Wachowski (James Marsden & Tika Sumpter) from Green Hills, Montana. Pursued by the outrageous and hilarious Dr. Ivo “Eggman” Robotnik (Jim Carrey), Sonic defeated the evil Robotnik, sending him to the Mushroom Planet via Sonic’s handy portal rings. It’s been about a year later, and Sonic has been busy on Earth trying to be a superhero, but causing more destruction than help, while the crazed Dr. Robotnik has been hard at work trying to escape his planet prison.
As Robotnik sends a beacon into space, he attracts the attention of Knuckles (voiced by Idris Elba) a furry red hedgehog who’s more powerful than Sonic and wants revenge against the blue speedster for something in his past. As the two baddies make their way back to Earth, Sonic gets some unexpected help from a yellow furry inventor fox named Miles “Tails” Prower (Colleen O’Shaughnessey) who can fly like a helicopter. As Robotic rejoins his old minion, Stone (Lee Majdoub), for an upgrade in clothing and some hi-tech villain gizmos, Knuckles kicks Sonic’s blue ass all over the place because he wants the location of the McGuffin. . . I mean, the Master Emerald! A powerful secret crystal that can make your thoughts turn into matter. Uh, Infinity Glove, anyone?
Anyway, the race is then on with Robotnik & Knuckles vs Sonic & Tails as they try and find the Master Emerald first. There’s a fight and chase in Siberia which leads to the only funny part of the movie: a hilarious wedding-gone-wrong in Hawaii where Sonic crashes with Tails. It’s like an entirely separate movie with Maddie, her excitable sister, Rachel (Natasha Rothwell), and her super-handsome fiancé, Randall (Shemar Moore). I would’ve paid to see just that movie! Anyway, Act One is the exposition and chase and sets it up for Act Two, where the bad guys find the Master Emerald and all hell breaks loose after that.
Will Sonic save the day with his new pals? Will he learn some life lessons in the end? Does that Master Emerald look so much like the Infinity Stones that the MCU should sue? And how is it Sonic can now run up buildings when he couldn’t in the first movie? With a slightly better screenplay (than the first movie) by Pat Casey & Josh Miller (Sonic the Hedgehog, Transylmania), and John Whittington (The Lego Batman Movie), the writers still have the usual problems with huge plot holes, laughable story conveniences, and some truly cringe-worthy, kid-friendly dialogue. Act One is a slog, but thankfully, Act Two isn’t too bad with some decent action. And SO many of Sonic’s jokes and gags land flat as a dead duck.
However, all that being said, I gotta give points to the overall SPFX, which were quite nice, and that surprising second act with the hijinks in Hawaii. What was that? WHY couldn’t the whole movie have that kind of energy and brilliant writing? *sigh* And I gotta tip my hat to Jim Carrey, whose giant ratty mustache can beat up Kenneth Branagh’s in a fight! Carrey is funny, as usual, as he steals every scene he’s in. God, I wish there was another Ace Ventura movie! Marsden, who likes to play against CGI creatures, is good, but for sheer entertainment watch Sumpter, Rothwell, and Moore in Hawaii. It makes watching this whole movie worth it.
**Now showing only in theaters.
Hellboy 2: The Golden Army (2008)
It’s rare that a sequel actually bests the original movie, but this film did just that. Guillermo DelToro came back with a terrific one-two punch after his 2004 Hellboy entry and didn’t disappoint. A better story, better characters, and deeper than the first.
Before the main story, we get a backstory about Balor (Roy Dotrice), King of the Elves, and his indestructible mechanical army of gold which devastates humanity. Regretting his actions, Balor forms a truce with the humans. The crown to command the Golden Army is split into three pieces, but Balor’s arrogant son, Prince Nuada (Luke Goss), disagrees with the truce and leaves in exile. His kind and beautiful twin sister, Princess Nuala (Anna Walton), is ashamed of his actions. Fast-forward to the present and Nuada has returned to claim his dad’s throne, but has to gather the three pieces of the crown first.
He collects the first piece from an auction, unleashing voracious flying creatures called tooth fairies, and then kills his father for the second piece. Fortunately, Princess Nuala escapes with the final piece. Meanwhile, at the BPRD (Bureau for Paranormal Research & Development), Hellboy (Ron Perlman) is not only having girlfriend problems with firestarter Liz (Selma Blair), but his boss, (Jeffrey Tambor) because now the whole world knows that Hellboy exists, thanks to his outrageous antics. In order to solve the current mystery at the auction, some help is called in: a supernatural, ectoplasmic semi-mechanical entity called Johann Krauss (voiced by Seth MacFarlane). Even though Johann is rude, rough, and conceited, he gets the job done, figuring out the secret location of the Troll Market in Brooklyn.
Princess Nuala is rescued by fish-man Abe Sapien (Doug Jones) from her brother’s attack, but Nuada throws at them a Godzilla-sized plant creature to fight with. After Hellboy defeats the monster, they regroup at the BPRD, however, Nuada isn’t done yet and mortality wounds Hellboy with a speartip. The only way to save him is to go to the rocky Giant’s Causeway in Ireland and have the Goblin Master remove it. Once done, Johann, Hellboy, Abe, and Liz must battle the resurrected mechanical Golden Army in order to defeat Prince Nuada for good & save mankind.
This wildly imaginative story was written & directed by Guillermo DelToro and it’s got everything: comedy, action, adventure, social satire, pathos, heartbreak, stunning SPFX, and DelToro’s signature creatures that pop-up all through the movie that really add to the overall flavor of the film. It’s better than the first movie and light years better than that terrible 2019 reboot. Ugh!!
Seriously, as far as sequels go, they don’t get much better than this. The characters are even flawed, with Hellboy and Liz having their lovers spats all the time; a pretty funny thing when you stop and think about it. Doug Jones (under all that wonderful make-up) is always a treat as Abe, and having the V/O of Seth MacFarlane as the German blow-hard Johann Klauss is perfect.