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SYFY WIRE reviews

Sonic the Hedgehog: Critics race to praise Jim Carrey's vintage zaniness amid a few speed bumps

By Josh Weiss
Sonic the Hedgehog

Gotta go fast! The first reviews for Paramount's live-action Sonic the Hedgehog movie are out and critics are loving the all-in comedic performances provided by the project's top-billed stars: Ben Schwartz (who voices the CGI Sonic) and Jim Carrey (Dr. Ivo Robotnik/Dr. Eggman). In particular, many point out that Carrey hasn't been this wonderfully wacky since the halcyon days of his '90s-era Hollywood supremacy in films like The Mask and Ace Ventura.

While no one is saying that the movie (helmed by VFX and animation vet Jeff Fowler) is perfect, none of the reviews rake it over the coals, either, considering it underwent a massive visual effects overhaul last year in order to update the look of the titular character. In fact, the traditional — not to mention adorable — look of Sega's famous blue-quilled speedster is one of the video-game flick's greatest strengths.

Right now, Sonic holds a fresh 70 percent rating on Rotten Tomatoes and (per Variety) is expected to sprint across the finish line of its weekend debut with $40 - $45 million at the domestic box office, easily beating out Warner Bros.' Birds of Prey and Sony's Fantasy Island.

Written by Pat Casey and Josh Miller, Sonic the Hedgehog finds the eponymous member of the Erinaceidae family (actually a space alien in this version) teaming up with Tom Wachowski (Westworld's James Marsden), the sheriff of Green Hills, Montana. Together, they'll try and take on the world's most brilliant scientist, Dr. Robotnik, a power-hungry and machine-obsessed madman who seeks to harness Sonic's sonically charged quills for world domination.

Tika Sumpter, Natasha Rothwell, Neal McDonough, and Adam Pally co-star.

Take a break from the fast-paced rat race of life and see what critics are saying below ...

"Sonic offers Jim Carrey in a performance almost as full-tilt as those of his mid-'90s heyday. His villainous Dr. Robotnik supplies nearly as much amusement as the prickly star of the show, with this duo's hyperactivity balanced out by James Marsden in his nice-guy wheelhouse." -John DeFore, The Hollywood Reporter

"Given the level of obsession with which Sonic’s fans regard him, the makers of Sonic the Hedgehog would have done well to turn the film into a slapstick theme park of video-game trickery, like the relentlessly imaginative Ralph Breaks the Internet. But no! Their truly epic bad decision, far worse than the original fussy humanoid design of Sonic, was to make the Sonic movie into one of those clunky live-action adventure comedies with a digitally animated generic weisenheimer plopped into the middle of it." -Owen Gleiberman, Variety

"Carrey’s Robotnik — played by the hyper-energetic actor operating at maximum strength — makes for an egotistical, slightly unhinged villain, whose fundamental weirdness is fun to watch ... This version of Carrey has been missing from screens for a while ... It’s easy to forget that his rubber-faced antics do work when used in the right setting." -Kristen Page-Kirby, The Washington Post

"In what is something of a movie miracle or at the very least an unexpected surprise, this adaptation of the much-loved Sega video game franchise launched nearly 30 years ago as a direct assault on Nintendo’s leaping plumber Mario, largely presses the all the right buttons—and even does so in the right order." -Oliver Jones, Observer

"An on-form Jim Carrey can’t stop Sonic’s live-action debut from feeling like a missed opportunity. If the teased sequels do materialise, here’s hoping the storytelling levels up." -Amon Warmann, Empire Magazine

"The movie shines when it remembers it’s based on a video game, and there’s some genuinely fun stuff — like when Sonic uses his time-stopping powers or Robotnik’s elaborate 'evil-plotting' montage that makes you wonder why more movies don’t feature bad guys with choreographed dance sequences. Carrey plays up Robotnik as the cartoon villain he is, and it’s a true delight to watch him in his element." -Dami Lee, The Verge

"There’s also some props that need to be given to Ben Schwartz as the voice of Sonic. Ben does a lot of voice overwork, and while I’ve never heard every single vocal performance he’s ever done, I always feel like I can pick his voice out of a crowd. Even with the knowledge that he was the man behind the blue blur, his image and his style vanished into the cuddly mascot from frame one." -Matthew Schuchman,

"The feature directorial debut of Jeff Fowler, Sonic the Hedgehog can't decide what it wants to be — a silly comedy or a melodramatic story about trying to connect with others. It only finds momentum when it lets loose and has fun with the supersonic speed of the title character. The action occasionally slows in a manner similar to Quicksilver in the X-Men films to show Sonic rushing around pulling off fight scenes and jokes in quick succession." -Brandon Zachary, CBR

"The movie gives Carrey a chance to do something fresh and exciting with Robotnik, and he’s fun to a degree – dude's still got some dance moves – yet so much of the character is a retread of his goofy greatest hits from The Mask and Ace Ventura." -Brian Truitt, USA Today

"While this family-friendly action-comedy suffers from a simplistic story and leans too heavily on tired visual cliches, Sonic the Hedgehog is nevertheless boosted by solid performances from Ben Schwartz as Sonic and Jim Carrey as Dr. Robotnik. Their ongoing cat-and-mouse game is entertaining, and passionate fans of the Sega franchise should appreciate all the nods to Sonic’s history." -Akeen Lawanson, IGN