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Is Sonic's New Movie Design Better Or Worse?

Sonic has embraced his plushy roots in the newest trailer for the upcoming live-action film Sonic the Hedgehog.

Last April, a terribly-received first look at the upcoming movie featuring the iconic Sega character seemed like it might sink the Sonic ship before it could even set sail. It wasn't the plot or writing that had fans up in arms, though — it was Sonic himself. 

The original trailer, which has since been taken down, delivered a somewhat unsettling humanoid version of the beloved character that turned off just about everyone who saw it. The strong and immediate online backlash forced Paramount to delay the film's release so that Sonic's look could be revamped. 

This development came after the movie's director Jeff Fowler took to Twitter to assure fans and general audiences alike that the movie's creative team had heard their complaints loud and clear. Amazingly, Fowler confirmed on the spot that changes would be made to the character's design. "You aren't happy with the design & you want changes," the director tweeted. "It's going to happen. Everyone at Paramount & Sega are fully committed to making this character the BEST he can be." 

Now, three days after Sonic the Hedgehog was originally set to hit theaters, the new trailer is signaling that Paramount and the film's VFX team may have successfully corrected course. The plot elements featured in the new, nearly three-minute clip are pretty much the same as in the original version — but the spot does indeed give us a whole new Sonic. Gone are the lanky arms and human-like palms. Also out? Those eerily human-like teeth. What's in are Sonic's classic smooth white gloves, plushy fur and those recognizable (and much larger) green eyes. 

With the old trailer effectively scrubbed from the web, the version featuring the newly re-designed Sonic has taken its place — and for the most part, fans are very, very pleased with the change.

Most fans are ecstatic about Sonic's new look

The film follows the speedy blue hedgehog (voiced by BoJack Horseman's Ben Schwartz) after he escapes to Earth from an undisclosed, presumably hedgehog-filled planet. Once he arrives, he has an unexpected run-in with James Marsden's Officer Tom Wachowski, who becomes his reluctant partner as both go on the run from Jim Carrey's evil Dr. Robotnik. 

The trailer lays this out while placing the spotlight squarely on Sonic's new and improved design. For many fans who took to Twitter to comment on the new spot, the redesign was a glorious change, deserving of an all-caps response. 

This was certainly true for @KeitaroTime, a Smash Bros commentator and content creator for Soniqs Esports, who tweeted, "YOU FIXED HIM YES!!!" Eloquent in its brevity, that comment.

Likewise, Twitter user @ShirotaniArt bubbled over with "THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU," before praising the studio for following through with making the change in a follow-up tweet. "It's great of you to reflect on that matter and be brave enough to make the move," he wrote. "I am really impressed and it was so worth the wait!" The official Sonic movie account replied to the missive with a simple message: "Sometimes all it takes is a makeover!"

The update to Sonic's look was anticipated, but considering the character's freaky first iteration, some fans had (somewhat understandably) set the bar low for what the re-do might look like. Twitter user @SarahWJelly shared her surprise at how spot-on the updated design was, tweeting, "Holy moly I wasn't expecting the improvement to be so GOOD. Amazing job." 

Some fans even became emotionally overwhelmed by the sight of a character they grew up on imagined in an way that's so true to the classic games. "Words can't describe how happy I am right now," user @BaggySpartan117 tweeted. "There was so much character and personality in that trailer and it actually made me laugh. I want to f***ing cry."

It wasn't just Sonic's look that had fans praising the new spot up one side and down the other. Several, like user @eisler_nathan, noted how the trailer's entire feel seemed to have made a positive shift. "Ignoring the design for a bit (which looks great, BTW), the general tone and energy of the new trailer is leagues ahead of the original," he tweeted. "No joke, I legit think the Sonic movie will be solid. We'll see come February next year."

Others are less excited about the new design direction

The majority of the social media reactions to the new trailer were in the same vein; most fans responded to the new spot with a mixture of elation and genuine gratefulness. But even as the film's official Twitter account celebrated with Sonic fans around the world, some were still less than pleased with what they'd seen. Mostly, though, those offering more critical responses weren't outright displeased with Sonic's new design.

For example, in response to another fan's tweet, user @DMfromSpace opined that while the new Sonic is certainly easier on the eyes, it's still not quite stacking up to its big-budget potential. "Still looks like one of those made for TV Nickelodeon movies from the early 2000s, but yeah. I'm more excited than I was before," he tweeted.

Also, believe it or not, there is a small faction of fans that actually liked the original design, and some of them also took to social media to air their grievances over the change. Twitter user @LvayDen used a Godfather meme with the line "Look at how they massacred my boy" to describe their sadness over the original live-action Sonic being replaced. "As someone who loved the Sonic design from the first trailer 6 months ago, this was my reaction to the new #SonicTheHedgehog trailer," they tweeted.

All in all, though, such less-than-ecstatic reactions were a distinct minority. Anybody who has ever played a Sonic game can see that the redesign is infinitely more faithful to the games' rendering of the character they know and love, and we're of the opinion that Fowler and his VFX team should be roundly commended for listening to the criticism, then taking the extra time and effort to give fans a version of Sonic that they can get behind.

Sonic the Hedgehog hits the big screen on February 14, 2020.