Somewhere in a parallel universe, the long-awaited ‘Sonic the Hedgehog’ movie was released this year, and it was a critical and financial bomb. Thankfully, we don’t live in that universe. In a rare case of a studio actually taking on board criticism from fans, Paramount and Sega decided to listen to the people who pointed out that the movie version of the world’s most famous hedgehog looked laughably awful, and put the film on hold while they worked on a redesign.
You may have forgotten quite how bad Sonic looked when the first trailer for the movie was released toward the start of 2019, but there are images at this link if you want to remind yourself of the horror. There were many things wrong with the original vision for the character, but the basic issue was that it just didn’t look like Sonic. The proportions were wrong. The colors were wrong. His head was the wrong shape. When your title character is the movie’s main selling point, and that character has an appearance that’s been seared onto people’s minds by some of the most successful video games of all time, getting the basics wrong is simply unforgivable.
At the risk of sounding dramatic, the original movie rendition of Sonic was just about the worst graphical depiction of him we’ve seen in any format, and we include the short-lived Sonic the Hedgehog mobile slots game on website like Rose Slots casino. Sonic looked strange in that game, and that might be why the official Sega range of mobile slots was withdrawn less than a year after they were launched. Sega apparently wasn’t making money on the mobile slots, but they’d likely have lost a huge amount more if they’d pressed ahead with the film in its previous state.
Happily, we can report that the problem appears to have been resolved. Although neither Sega nor Paramount have released anything official regarding their redesigned star, images have been leaking to the internet for some time now. The most recent set of leaked images hit the internet just this last week, and they look like the real deal. The proportions have been corrected, he’s the rights shade of blue, and his facial featured and head shape are a much better fit. He’s wearing gloves instead of having strangely oversized furry white hands. In short, he looks like Sonic the Hedgehog in all the ways that the previous version didn’t.
We don’t imagine that everyone will be one hundred percent happy with the new designs – nobody ever is. We’ve already seen people on the internet complaining that the shading of his arms isn’t quite right, but that’s a trivial issue compared to the design disaster we were supposed to accept six months ago. This is a live-action movie, and so it was inevitable that there would be some differences between the Sonic of the games and the Sonic of the movie. An 8-bit style character would look ridiculous in HD resolution, so staying totally faithful to the original design simply won’t have been an option.
Now that the graphical issues of the film are apparently behind us, the only question left to answer is whether the film will actually turn out to be any good when all is said and done. Although the games did have a loose story to them, there was never a plot that was detailed enough to allow for a movie to be written on the basis of them. That’s left Hollywood scriptwriters to fill in the blanks, and the synopsis we’ve seen makes things sound a little on the contrived side.
According to official preview and plot information, the film will see Sonic attempting to evade capture by the Government, who are after him for reasons unknown. Leading the chase will the Government’s chief scientist Dr. Robotnik, played by Jim Carrey. Carrey is a gifted comic actor, but the thin, tall comic doesn’t seem like an obvious choice to play the small, round video game villain. We’d say that looks aren’t everything, but based on the overwhelmingly negative response to the original design for Sonic, we know that for a lot of the film’s potential audience, they are. There’s also the potentially thorny issue that the writers appear to have decided that Sonic is an alien. In a line from the (presumably now redundant) original trailer, he’s heard to utter the fabulously cliched line ‘looks like I’m going to have to save your planet.’
In truth, the production of the film hasn’t been hugely expensive by modern Hollywood standards. Its budget of $90m is large, but is a fraction of the cost of the majority of blockbuster movies. If the film can return $200m or above, it’s likely that it will be picked up for a sequel. That’s likely to be the intended end result for Sega, who would be delightful to pick up a share of the spoils from a successful movie franchise. It’s unknown if that $90m cost reflects the money spent on completely changing every second of the film that features Sonic: graphic design effects are expensive, and ripping the character up and starting again with it won’t have come cheaply.
With the redesign now complete (or close to complete at the very least), the film is now moving ahead to its rescheduled release date. Having initially been planned for a November 2019 release, it’s now marked to come out on February 14th, 2020. That’s Valentine’s Day. Clearly, Paramount and everybody else involved in the film’s release is hoping that audiences fall in love with Sonic, and keep him close to their hearts. Seeing as he’s now a much better-looking hedgehog than he was a few short months ago, the chances of that have probably increased dramatically.
Just getting to the big screen has been a difficult journey for Sonic. It was Sony who first picked up the rights to make the film, way back in 2013. Since then, it’s spent years in development hell, written off and put into turnaround by Sony’s Columbia Pictures, and picked up on the cheap and reimagined by Paramount. After everything he’s been through, it would be a shame if his silver screen-debut was a ‘one and done’ for Sonic. We hope that the finished product is better than some fans fear that it might be, and we get to see Sonic at the pictures again someday. If he does get a second film, perhaps Tails can come along with him. Ideally, they’ll get the design for Tails right at the first time of asking.