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The 6 Best And 6 Worst Things About Sonic The Hedgehog 2

Contains spoilers for "Sonic the Hedgehog 2"

This week sees the return of the blue blur by way of Ben Schwartz in "Sonic the Hedgehog 2." After running rings around audiences back in 2020 in Sonic's big-screen debut, he's back again, going for another round with Jim Carrey's mustached maniac, Dr. Robotnik, who returns to Earth with a new bruiser of a BFF, Knuckles the echidna (voiced by Idris Elba). Thankfully, Sonic won't be going it alone. He teams up with his iconic fox friend Tails (Colleen O'Shaughnessey) as they all race to get a hold of the Master Emerald, an ancient artifact that, as all ancient artifacts seem to do, stores an incredible power that could, in the wrong hands, destroy the entire planet.

Bringing the same energy and fast-paced humor as the first film, there's a lot to love in this new sequel to the surprise hit. Of course, that's not to say that Sonic's comeback gets a perfect score. There are the occasional glitches in "Sonic the Hedgehog 2" that the film could certainly be without. Here's a compilation of the good and bad bits, including animated dance-offs and references to Donald Trump. Seriously.

Best: Jim Carrey makes a fan-tash-tic return as Dr. 'Eggman' Robotnik

While Schwartz may have been the risky choice for Sonic in the first film, Jim Carrey was practically a walking, talking cheat code for the first film's success. It stands to reason then that in "Sonic the Hedgehog 2," the living cartoon and comedy icon, while still lacking the iconic physique of the eponymous Dr. Robotnik, has gone another round in bringing his interpretation of the character to life. Naturally, this outing involves him stealing every scene he's in because ... well, it's Jim Carrey, right?

Are we closer to seeing him as the bowling-ball-with-legs Sonic fans are familiar with? Not at all. While the rest of the cast is still on uneven ground acting against CG co-stars, Carrey isn't having any issues. There's no pixelated protagonist wild enough to compete with him on screen, as that funny secret formula that has kept Carrey running for decades (though slightly thinning here) is still a joy to watch — even if it's his last reserves.

 If this is the last time we'll see Carrey on the big screen, as he's recently suggested, there are worse ways to go out than having another crack at Dr. Robotnik.

Worst: This might be Jim Carrey's last ever performance

Following his mustache-twirling comeback as Dr. Robotnik in "Sonic the Hedgehog 2," Jim Carrey broke the news that he will be retiring from the big screen after failing to bring down a fictitious fast-paced hedgehog. There's no denying that besides leaving a considerable space in Hollywood, it begs the question of what the future of the ultra-fast franchise could look like without its main villain.

Given the closing scenes of "Sonic the Hedgehog 2," it's clear that a Shadow will no doubt be cast over the next film — perhaps filling the spot of Carrey as the film's big bad. With that in mind, though, could a pistol-packing prickly threat to Green Hills bring the same kind of draw as Carrey with a shaved head and modest facial hair? Not likely. Perhaps that job could be passed on to Robotnik's oat milk-brewing lackey, whose lack of presence was one of the film's most noticeable issues.

Best: Ben Schwartz is still in first gear as Sonic

Plenty of iconic anthropomorphic heroes have been brought to life by well-known voices, but not all of them have bound themselves to the character they were tasked with getting to the small screen in the right way. Bill Murray is linked to Garfield for all the wrong reasons (though not for long if Chris Pratt has anything to say about it), and the chances are that even in a hostage situation, many of us couldn't name the vocal artists behind Jonathan Liebesman's "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles." Thankfully, Ben Schwartz nailed bringing Sega's mascot straight out the gate. In "Sonic the Hedgehog 2," he continues to impress.

The former "Parks and Recreation" star's vibrancy and charm continue to flow effortlessly into what could easily have been another throwaway kid's movie. Sure there might be some iffy one-liners, but Schwartz breathes life into a character that rarely seems to stop for air. He gives Sonic heart and humor in equal balance, and whenever a cheesy moment does slip through the cracks, it's permissible simply because Schwartz is the delivery man. 

While there's no confirmation just yet if the studio is pressing start on "Sonic the Hedgehog 3," the man behind the blue streak has done enough with the role that he's now become inextricably linked.

Worst: A dance-off? Really?

While Sonic's sequel does have plenty of highs, the lows sure do stand out. Besides a lengthy and uninteresting time at a wedding (more on that in a bit), "Sonic the Hedgehog 2" decides to include something that feels like a staple of family-friendly films centered around kooky CGI characters. The only issue is that here it feels like that staple is jammed under your finger nail, and you're trying to get it out, while House of Pain is playing on full blast.

During Sonic's latest adventure, he heads off to Siberia and gets into an intense encounter with the locals. Tails searches for local customs that will hopefully get them out of danger and determines a "dance-off" will be their most practical means of escape. What follows is not only a paint-by-numbers sequence that brings the film down to an almighty halt, but it highlights some of the film's worst CGI, as Sonic and Tails go from looking like real-ish characters to having all the on-screen presence of a home goods mascot. 

Take note, kids — CGI characters and disco lights do not mix.

Best: Idris Elba becomes the perfect fit for Knuckles

Idris Elba stayed true to his word, and though his vocal work in "Sonic the Hedgehog 2" is unlikely to stir confused feelings about a computer game character (we hope), but that's not to say that the final product doesn't surpass expectations for the fist-throwing frenemy. Much like Schwartz and Carrey's journey as their respective characters, Elba manages to slowly make this legendary bruiser his own in the first round, mainly by following in the footsteps of some beloved characters from another franchise.

As far as Knuckles' characteristics have gone since his debut in the Sega Genesis game "Sonic 3" in 1994, this crimson-colored echidna has always felt like the group's rogue. The Raphael or Red Hood of the team who wasn't afraid to get his mitts dirty and can crack wise as much as the heroic hedgehog. Here though, Knuckles carries traits similar to that of our favorite cinematic god of thunder, Thor. He's a thuggish fish-out-of-water who is all about honor and is willing to throw down first before asking questions later. 

Seeing his character develop is easily one of the film's biggest highlights.

Worst: Agent Stone is dead weight

Every bad guy needs some backup, and Agent Stone (Lee Madjoub), unfortunately, doesn't cut it this time around. Sonic's sworn enemy is too busy making a shady alliance with Knuckles for the former partner-in-crime to make an impact. As a result, Stone's fleeting appearances quickly feel redundant.

Madjoub was a welcome addition in the last film, but here he's not given enough to do, and what he does do bogs the film down. Audiences have paid to see Jim Carrey yelling at iconic video game characters, not Stone overstaying his welcome in scenes that are comedy vacuums from the moment they begin. They feel like story beats to move the film along, and Stone's presence only stops them from serving even that purpose efficiently. 

Here's hoping that given Carrey's talk of leaving Hollywood behind, Madjoub's Stone could pick up in the next film where Robotnik left off, bringing a vendetta against the new protectors of the Master Emeralds.

Best: The references to Sonic lore are on the level

There's nothing worse than when a film based on a beloved IP shoehorns in references that jar you from the story and leave you wondering if the creative forces behind the project were even fans of the source material. Going through a nostalgic checklist is one thing, but sometimes it's better to see nothing if it means having scenes that feel like distractions more than anything else. What's great is that the nods to Sega's prickly poster boy don't feel like contrived at all in "Sonic the Hedgehog 2." They're deployed judiciously and effectively, and that makes all the difference. It never feels like pandering.

It's clear that Jeff Fowler, who joins the crew again after handling directing duties for the first film in 2020, still has a love for Sonic, and the history that comes with him. From Tom's (James Marsden) hilarious ring tone — the Green Hill level music, in case you missed it — to Sonic later dodging an array of death traps in what looks to be a level straight out of the games, it's all sprinkled in for the satisfaction of long-time fans.

Worst: Wasting time at a wedding

When most of the cast in a film isn't there or physically real, there's the occasional risk of spending too much time with some living, breathing supporting appearances that aren't the movie's main selling point. Sam Witwicky's parents in the "Transformers" franchise are one of the most memorable offenders, but in the case of "Sonic the Hedgehog 2," it's a wedding we weren't invited to that delivers the same unwanted effect. While they weren't unwelcome additions in the original film, here the likes of Tom Wachowski (James Marsden), his wife Maddie (Tika Sumpter), and sister-in-law Rachel (Natasha Rothwell) are part of a B-plot that's not remotely as compelling as seeing Sonic getting into a scrap with new fist on the block, Knuckles.

In the new film, the hedgehog-hating Rachel is going full bridezilla leading up to her wedding in Hawaii to Randall (former "Criminal Minds" and "S.W.A.T." star Shemar Moore). There's an alarming amount of time spent on the break-up-make-up journey, without a hedgehog or echidna hair in sight. It's incredibly dull and a solid testament to Sonic and his new pals that this film could easily have spent more time with them and eliminated the IRL piece altogether.

Best: Sonic vs. Knuckles makes for an epic showdown

Ever since Tony Stark asked Thor if his mother knew the whereabouts of her drapes, seeing heroes square off against one another has become a regular thing. That's not to say that seeing a showdown for the ages isn't worth seeing. While it might not bring as much noise as seeing Marvel's finest go toe-to-toe, there's an undeniably epic feel to having Sonic try to outmaneuver his new foe only to get the rings knocked out of him on their first encounter. Even so, it's the final round when they eventually squash their digital beef that might be the highlight of the film.

Starting with a wide shot that feels like it's been ripped right out of a classic Sonic boss level (the hero on one side, Robotnik on the other), what follows is a gorgeous display of CGI as Sonic and Knuckles apply their respective power sets beautifully. It feels like there's not a single area of their battleground that isn't used to great effect and will only get fans excited for the future foe that makes an appearance after the credits roll.

Worst: Uneven CGI creates some weird challenges for actors

While his eyes might be as big as a size-12 sneaker, there's no denying that at times, it really does look like Sonic is running through a scene, wise-cracking his way along the road, bright blue fur, and all. The light hits the hedgehog every so often in a way that makes you think a real ring portal just opened up in your backyard during a totally inessential wedding. Occasionally his supercharged quills get splashed or doused in sand, and it's clear that attention is being made to ensure all the relevant elements stick. On some occasions, though, there are times when none of it comes together. Like, at all.

Besides that diabolical dance-off, there are moments when an interaction with a real actor falls apart. In some cases, a non-Jim Carrey cast member is two or three inches above the eye contact they should be making; in others, the size of the video game trio is totally out-of-proportion between shots, begging unflattering comparisons to "Cats." 

These inconsistencies sometimes bring the film down, but mercifully they are few and far between.

Best: That post-credits tease

Thanks to Marvel Studios, the post-credits scene has become a required element for any entry in a massive media franchise. Thankfully, the teaser at the end of "Sonic the Hedgehog 2" is one fans should be excited about without a Shadow of a doubt.

With the supposed demise of Dr. Robotnik after our hero goes Super Sonic, shifty organization G.U.N. searches among the ruins for signs of life and finds something far more lethal than they expected. Enter: Dr. Robotnik's top secret "Project Shadow." In the final shot, we see an iconic antihero from the Sonic universe wake up with eyes aflame and no doubt ready to cause some damage to the blue blur before inevitably reconciling in Act 3. 

Shadow the Hedgehog, Sonic's tougher, gun-totin' occasional ally, has just entered the fray, which could potentially fill Carrey's slot if his recent retirement takes. 

Worst: Questionable one-liners

The sign of a good family film is being able to entertain both kids and grown-ups equally with well-written gags. Of course, when that film has Jim Carrey in the line-up, the risk of not satisfying both these audiences is incredibly low. Even so, among the onslaught of gags from that elastic-faced funny man, come a few quips that may catch you off guard. The worst offenders feel dated and borderline offensive.

Let's keep in mind this is a "Sonic" film — a story about a blue hedgehog that only wears sneakers and runs exceptionally fast. There is a lot to poke fun at. Nevertheless, the film's script makes a few questionable zigs when it should have zagged, including most notably a Donald Trump quote about a neo-Nazi rally. While quick enough to fly by, there's no doubt that (accidental or not) these lame lines might not sit right with some audience members.

Here's hoping the writing team gets a restart whenever "Sonic 3" comes around.