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‘Sonic the Hedgehog’ speeds to home theaters (4K Ultra HD review)

Written By | May 20, 2020
Jim Carrey as Dr. Robotnic in "Sonic the Hedgehog," now available on 4K Ultra HD from Paramount Pictures Home Entertainment.

Jim Carrey as Dr. Robotnic in “Sonic the Hedgehog,” now available on 4K Ultra HD from Paramount Pictures Home Entertainment.

WASHINGTON: A video game legend’s successful debut in live-action cinema zooms over to ultra-high definition home theaters.  Sonic the Hedgehog (Paramount Pictures Home Entertainment, Rated PG, 2.39:1 aspect ratio, 98 minutes, $34.99) is a family fun pleaser.

The origins and lonely life of the speediest creature in the universe was explored by director Jeff Fowler. After a quick redesign of the character for looking too much like a hedgehog (after some disgruntled, too early fan reactions), he gave devotees the Hedgehog they were dreaming about.

Adapting the character’s gaming adventures, the movie starts with Sonic (voiced by Ben Schwartz) exiting his homeworld (looking ripped from the video game’s Green Hills zone) and using a golden ring portal to eventually end up in Montana.

After a severe bout of loneliness, he overuses his power, causes a major blackout that catches the eye of a secret government organization led by a mustache-twirling evil genius Dr. Robotnic (Jim Carrey) who hopes to capture the creature and use its powers to dominate the world.

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Sonic enlists the help of local sheriff Tom Wachowski (James Marsden) and the pair go on the run as they battle Dr. Robotnic and attempt to retrieve a bag of missing golden rings that ended up in San Francisco.

The movie will thrill youngsters and even hard-core lovers of the gaming franchise, especially when enjoying a slow-motion scene of Sonic as he rearranges a bar fight while in supersonic motion.

Mr. Carrey thankfully returns to his frenetic comedic roots to deliver a scene-devouring homage to the legendary gaming villain culminating with his transformation into a madman while stuck on a familiar mushroom planet.

4K in action:

Plucked from the 4K digital intermediate, the 2160p home entertainment release benefits greatly from enhanced color and clarity. Both of which is appreciated when watching Sonic in action.

Especially noteworthy are the crisp, sharp blue neon trails and crackling electric tendrils emitted from Sonic as he zips around environments at super speed as well as his detailed bristling blue fur and glowing electrified quills.

Best extras:

Paramount packs in the goodies led by an optional, breezy commentary track from Mr. Fowler and Mr. Schwartz offering a near nonstop, enthusiastic conversation on the film.

Each pokes and prods the other to provide plenty of information on the production and its source material while they have a very fun time reminiscing about the experience.

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Viewers also get featurettes (roughly 20 minutes total) on Mr. Carrey embracing his role; the cast and crew reminiscing about why they loved the video games; the comparison of the movie to the games (with Easter eggs); the history of Sonic in video games (best of the bunch); and a black-and-white, line-drawn cartoon short with the hedgehog traveling around the world in 80 seconds

The package also comes with a 14-page, full-color, mini-comic book called “The Adventures of Sonic and Donut Lord.”

It concisely adapts the movie and features a pixelated illustrative style. All reminiscent of the early days when a side-scrolling Sonic ruled the Sega Genesis gaming console.

What’s missing is any code to actually play a classic Sonic video game. Paramount could have easily offered exclusive downloads or levels to the currently available “Sonic at the Olympic Games — Tokyo 2020,” enjoyed on smartphones and computer tablets.

• This story originally appeared in The Washington Times.

Joseph Szadkowski

A graduate of Northwestern University with a degree in communications, Joseph Szadkowski has written about popular culture for The Washington Times for the past 25 years. He covers video games, comic books, new media and technology.