Sonic the Hedgehog was a surprise box office and critical success in 2020. One of the biggest hits of the year was due to the brilliant comedy voice performance of Ben Schwartz, the return to form performance of Jim Carrey and the love for the video games source material that was obvious from the beginning. While Sonic the Hedgehog II raises the bar, it doesn’t quite match its predecessor.
The original cast all returns, but Colleen O’Shaughnessey and Idris Elba voice new characters Knuckles & Tails. Knuckles is Sonic’s opposite; he is serious, gullible, and a fighter but doesn’t realize that Sonic shares his pain. Knuckles isn’t able to see the similarities between Sonic and him. Tails is a welcome addition to Sonic’s group and force Sonic to become a mentor. However, he feels more like a fanboy rather than a hero, who’s more than capable against Dr. Robotnik.
The stakes have been raised since the first film. Dr. Robotnik returns to Earth to confront Sonic and partners up with Knuckles to find Master Emerald. This giant gem is believed to give Sonic unimaginable power. After a brief fight with Knuckles Sonic and Tails travel to Siberia to locate a compass that will lead them to the Emerald. The film’s second act begins to unravel. Sonic and Tails have to face a group of angry Russians in Siberia during a long dance-off set to Bruno Mars’ “Uptown Funk”. This scene is too similar to the Guardians of the Galaxy dance-off and could have been easily reworked to allow Sonic and Tails sneakily to get their information and escape. Sonic’s “mom” and dad are traveling to Hawaii to attend a destination wedding. This subplot is a complete sham and could have been cut completely from the runtime. Sonic’s journey is ruined by this sequence and he has forgotten where it all began.
The sequel maintains the humor of the original film, and Knuckles’ addition feels like a natural progression. Tails will likely get a heroic upgrade in the third film, but he is still a bit of a squeaky wheel among this trio of heroes. It is difficult to watch the entire film for two hours. There are too many scenes that could be cut and it leads to rushed character development towards its conclusion. Sonic the Hedgehog II is a worthy sequel to the first film, but it falls short of exceeding it. This credits scene introduces Shadow, a new character that hopefully will help the filmmakers avoid the character bloat that plagues many film franchises.