There are two would-be blockbusters coming to UK cinemas this week, one of which has been plagued by delays and a lack of anticipation, and the other is Sonic the Hedgehog 2. Compared to the first Sonic movie and that design backlash, the sequel has had a smooth journey to screen and is arriving exactly as planned. Perhaps the biggest twist is that thanks to the reception to the first movie, Sonic the Hedgehog 2 is now eagerly awaited by fans as it brings legacy characters Tails and Knuckles into the fold.

Of course, that anticipation brings its own challenge: could the same creative team that made the first movie a hit repeat the trick? Fortunately for Sonic fans, they realised there's no need to fix something that wasn't broken.

Sonic the Hedgehog 2 is a more confident movie than its predecessor, delivering the same blend of frenetic family fun and nostalgic beats for the long-time fans. Ironically for a movie about a speedy hedgehog, the issue this time around is that it all goes on a bit too long.


Where the first movie was about Sonic (Ben Schwartz) finding his place, Sonic the Hedgehog 2 sees the loveable interdimensional hedgehog discover what it truly means to be a hero. As much as he wants to think he's 'Blue Justice', an early attempt at stopping a robbery only leads to more chaos.

And chaos is definitely on the way for Sonic as, thanks to Knuckles the Echidna (Idris Elba), Dr Robotnik (Jim Carrey) has made his way back to Earth from the mushroom planet that Sonic trapped him on at the end of the first movie.

Teaming up with Knuckles, Dr Robotnik is on a quest to find the Master Emerald which could give him ultimate power. Fortunately, Sonic has a partner of his own in Tails (Colleen O'Shaughnessey) and they set off on a global adventure to stop the emerald from getting into the wrong hands.

If only the movie had just focused on this quest. To get the main criticism out of the way, there's no reason for Sonic the Hedgehog 2 to be two hours long. The bloated runtime is a result of ensuring every human character has a subplot of their own, but they don't prove to be worthwhile.

A detour to Rachel's (Natasha Rothwell) wedding in Hawai'i should have just served as a necessary location setup for the finale. However, it gets stretched out with an unnecessary twist that mostly serves to just introduce another game reference, which could have waited until the credit scene or the already confirmed third movie.

natasha rothwell, shemar moore, sonic the hedgehog 2


To put it bluntly, the human characters – Dr Robotnik aside – just aren't as interesting as their animated counterparts. When Sonic, Tails and Knuckles are sharing the screen, it's a nostalgic joy similar to Spider-Man: No Way Home's big Spider-Men moment, and you want to be back with them.

The design faux-pas for the first movie was never going to happen again, leading to excellent VFX and design bringing Tails and Knuckles to life. They look so alike to their video game counterparts that it's hard to imagine any fan finding fault. When Sonic and Knuckles go head-to-head, it really feels like the games brought to life.

Idris Elba proves to be a great fit for Knuckles with a mix of dry humour and growly anger, but the best call the filmmakers made was bringing back Colleen O'Shaughnessey as Tails. She's the only voice actor from the games to reprise her role and you can't imagine anybody else as Tails.

The addition of two more iconic Sonic characters allows the sequel to delve even further into the video game canon. As with the first movie, there's plenty of Easter eggs and nods to Sonic history to spot from small things like poses to infamous levels like the Labyrinth Zone.

It shines through that these movies are made with love by Sonic fans, but crucially, it's never at the detriment of the movie. It's not fan service for fan service's sake, although a nod to Ben Schwartz's Jean-Ralphio is admittedly just a deep cut for Parks and Recreation fans.

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Related: Sonic the Hedgehog star teases Idris Elba's "awesome" performance

There are times when the balance between appealing to children and adults doesn't quite work. For instance, a dance battle set to 'Uptown Funk' and Dr Robotnik referencing flossing feel dated already, let alone in years to come on a rewatch.

It's these moments and the overlong runtime that mean Sonic the Hedgehog 2 often feels like two steps forward and one back for the series. There's a lot of fun to be had elsewhere with a series of inventive set pieces and entertaining interplay between Sonic, Tails and Knuckles, not to mention the continued unhinged, committed performance of Carrey.

Bigger isn't always better, and with some stricter editing, Sonic the Hedgehog 2 could have been a high-energy blast. As it is, there are lulls to be found and hopefully when the third movie comes around, lessons will have been learnt and we could be in for a real treat.