Paramount Pictures’ Sonic the Hedgehog movie trailer has been released, and already it is garnering some harsh reviews, from fans and critics alike. As of 8:45 PST on April 30th, the like-to-dislike ratio bar on the trailer’s Youtube video is at an even 50-50 split. Most comments and articles are bemoaning how no one asked for this. They’re right, of course. No one asked for this. No one wanted a live-action Sonic the Hedgehog movie featuring a freakish CG hedgehog as Coolio’s “Gangsta’s Paradise” plays in the background. No one asked for it, but that doesn’t mean we can’t enjoy it.
Since his creation in the 90s, Sonic the Hedgehog has struggled with the fight of staying relevant in the ever-shifting market for video games. While his initial games are met with nearly universal love and nostalgia, the blue blur’s transition into the 3D world has been wrought with highs and lows.
Many Sonic fans remember the highs fondly. Who can forget raising beloved Chao and jamming out to Crush 40 in the Sonic Adventure titles? Or reliving old adventures in the critically acclaimed Sonic Mania? I personally spent weeks getting through Sonic Rush; it was the first game to give me “post-completion depression” because I loved the story and characters so much.
However, while Sonic the Hedgehog as a franchise has provided many games that defined childhoods, it has also delivered on some of the most glitchy, puzzling big-budget games in the past few decades. Despite disasters such as Sonic the Hedgehog (2006) and Sonic Boom, there is still joy to be derived from the flaws.
Many Let’s Players online, such as the Game Grumps, have some of their most well-remembered videos featuring the “terrible” Sonic games mentioned before. There is a certain fun that can be had from bile fascination for certain games that just don’t live up to player expectations (and then some).
That doesn’t even delve into the other Sonic media that’s been released, such as the cartoons. While many of the Sonic shows are children’s cartoons of varying quality, there’s always a bit of charm to be found within them. To put simply, even the cheesy, “way past cool” tone of the cartoons resonate with Sonic fans, because we can laugh both with and at them.
Even the official Sonic the Hedgehog Twitter fully leans into the failings of the past by posting memes, bantering with fans, and accepting the reputation that Sonic has earned through the decades. While Nintendo’s wholesome fun with Mario and The Legend of Zelda is nice, the Sonic the Hedgehog fanbase is different, because we love and laugh with Sonic through the failures.
I would argue that the joy created by these flawed games and shows, and the unique community surrounding the franchise due to these failings, make Sonic the Hedgehog great. We Sonic fans are aware that our fave franchise isn’t perfect, but we accept it for what it is, and the fun that stems from both the good and the bad.
With the reveal of the Sonic the Hedgehog movie trailer, it may be easy to spout vitriol about the design decisions, the music choices, and how “nobody asked for this.” Despite all that, I feel that this trailer perfectly encapsulates what it means to be a Sonic fan. We all felt from the very beginning that a live-action adaptation was never going to be cinematic poetry. However, I would much rather enjoy Jim Carrey’s bombastic performance whilst a blue gremlin zaps around on screen than watch a mediocre, safe Sonic film.
Everything, from the design, to the music, to the acting, promises an unforgettable experience.
So, fellow Sonic fans, I implore you to look at the new Sonic the Hedgehog movie not with disgust, but with the fondness that we have been looking at Sonic for decades. If you can laugh at Sonic glitching through the walls in a Sonic Boom playthrough, why not laugh at the inspired design of new, CG Sonic? If you can have fun playing as a gun-toting, lightly swearing edgehog in Shadow the Hedgehog, why not have fun watching Dr. Robotnik ham it up onscreen as a black-clad military scientist? If my friends and I can watch Sonic use his magic medallion to summon a laser-shooting electric guitar to fight evil in Sonic Underground (yes that’s a real show), why not watch the Sonic the Hedgehog movie with the same expectations?
In short, Sonic the Hedgehog has always been a franchise where the losses sometimes appear to outweigh the wins. However, there is always enjoyment to be derived from those losses. There is charm in those failures, charm that has kept the series alive through all the bad times. Yes, the live-action Sonic the Hedgehog movie looks edgy, CG Sonic will haunt my nightmares, and nobody asked for it. However, when I go to the theatre on November 8th, I’ll know what I’m getting into, and I’ll have fun.