Why the Sonic the Hedgehog Movie Should Be Great for the Character
Saturday, 19th October 2019, 8:53pm (UTC), 0 Comments
If all had gone to plan, Sonic the Hedgehog would be hitting cinemas in November 2019. Yet, as anyone who went on Twitter at any point during May can testify, things very much didn't go according to plan. It's incredibly rare to see backlash among fans provoking a significant rethink of a character before a movie's release, but the negative response to the original design of Sonic was impossible for director Jeff Fowler to ignore.

The main point of contention with the original animation of Sonic was the overtly humanoid nature. When your lead character is a blue supersonic hedgehog, it's probably not wise to drastically alter its design by turning it into some bizarre human hybrid. The success of Detective Pikachu has demonstrated that video game characters can be successfully rendered in worlds shared with humans, without changing what made the characters so popular to begin with.

Lessons learned

It is encouraging that Fowler was willing to listen and adapt to fans' feedback, with the movie's release date pushed back to February 2020 to accommodate a redesign of Sonic. It would have been quicker and cheaper to bury heads in the sand and simply hope that fans learned to love (or at least not mind) the animation style, but Fowler realized that he had done a disservice to one of the most popular video game characters of all time.

Given how long Sega fans have been waiting for a Sonic movie adaptation, it is refreshing that Fowler understands the importance of getting it right. With so many of the responses to the trailer being based on Sonic's design, there hasn't been too much discourse surrounding the potential plot and tone of the movie. It shouldn't be forgotten that there are some big names on board, people that carry real star power.

The movie's biggest casting intrigue comes in the shape of Jim Carrey, set to play Sonic's nemesis Dr 'Eggman' Robotnik. Early signs from the trailer suggest it could be a scene-stealing role for Carrey, who will bring his legendary energy and quirkiness to the part. While the power of the Sonic name will attract legions of gaming fans, it is the inclusion of Carrey that could tempt more casual cinemagoers to check out the film.

A new franchise

If Sonic the Hedgehog is a box office success, then there is no reason to think that it won't herald the beginning of a franchise with several potential points for spin-offs. More movies will mean more games and more ways to engage with the character of Sonic. A useful point of comparison comes in the shape of another classic gaming character, Lara Croft.

Croft made the leap from gaming character to movie lead in the 2001 film Lara Croft: Tomb Raider. Angelina Jolie brought that all-important star power to two Tomb Raider flicks - the kind that Carrey is tasked with bringing to Sonic the Hedgehog. The existence of those movies has certainly helped the longevity of Tomb Raider as a gaming franchise. Many people still consider Jolie's Croft as the definitive portrayal of the character, with aesthetic and action elements of those films making their way into subsequent games.

The development of movies also gave Croft greater crossover potential to spin off into new genres of game. It is hard for a video game character to translate into the world of online slots without a film adaptation acting as a bridge between the two. The Tomb Raider slot at NinjaCasino takes inspiration from both the video games and the movies to deliver a real sense of adventure across the reels. Having a game based simply on another game could be confusing, but the movies ensure that there is a seamless transition across genres.

The Sonic the Hedgehog movie could prove similarly instrumental in driving the creation of more branded Sega slots. Online slot themes can be a useful barometer for what is popular, so a successful movie could be integral to bringing Sonic to a wider gaming demographic. The film also looks set to have strong comedic elements, something else that will prove useful in attracting a wide range of viewers.

Ben Schwartz is the voice of Sonic, a comedic actor who showed his timing and zaniness in the popular NBC sitcom Parks and Recreation. James Marsden will play Tom Wachowski, Sonic's closest human ally. It promises to be a similar relationship to that of Justice Smith and Ryan Reynolds' Detective Pikachu, with one hilariously uncomfortable human having to act against a misunderstood animated character.

Given the success of the similar movie Detective Pikachu, Fowler and Paramount Pictures will be hopeful that the redesign of Sonic builds plenty of goodwill before the movie's eventual release. There is a huge appetite for Sonic on the big screen, and if done well it could reinvigorate the Sonic franchise and see spin-offs into new forms of media.
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