Released: 13th February
Seen: 13th February
Remember this? Remember when this image was originally seared into the brains of people around the world? Remember the nightmares? The shakes? Do you remember the fear that at any moment this small blue demon from the depths of hell could emerge from the shadows in the corner of your room and the last thing you’d hear before you were forced to look at your own intestines was a tiny innocent-sounding “Meow”? Well, I remember, I remember it well. I still can’t listen to Gangsta’s Paradise unless I’m wearing brown pants.
This nightmare-inducing image was meant to be in front of our eyeballs in November of last year, this would’ve been Paramount’s Christmas present to you and your children. However, once everyone got a good look at him on April 30th and the internet’s rage screams were done, the studio said “OK, we’ll fix it” and the project was delayed until February 14th, Valentine’s day. How romantic, my heart is swollen with the adorable. Do you know what’s also making my heart swell? The knowledge that the Paramount executives demanded this horrific design because they didn’t actually give a damn about what fans of the character would end up thinking.
In an interview with Sonic Team Argentina (an interview which, curiously, Sonic Team Argentina appear to have removed… luckily, there’s other reports to back this up) one of the animators talked about the movie and explained that Paramount knew that this design would be hated by the fans of the character. You know, the fans who are why this property was big enough to warrant making a film. Yeah, Paramount KNEW you guys would hate the OG design but thought that general audiences might like it enough and that it would fit in with the live-action setting. Now, granted, the original Sonic movie design does look like something I encountered in the real world one time late at night on an empty street known for muggers and murders but maybe that kind of design isn’t actually good for a kids film. This, by the way, is the one time in history that the internet’s righteous anger was used for good… at first.
So here we are now, with a much nicer design. Sure he still has human teeth and those growths on his back just do not translate well to a 3D animated form but the nightmares have gone. I feel comfortable showing this image to a child. This is as close to a real-world version of Sonic that we will ever see and doesn’t he just look adorable? Well, for that you get to thank the Moving Picture Company in Vancouver, a company that’s worked on things like Lion King and Wonder Woman and Dumbo, just a lot of movies that you’ve probably seen got touched by this company and probably by the Vancouver office which is totally still going a- Oh, wait, no. No sorry, the Vancouver branch of this company shut down on December 12.
See, the problem with having to completely redesign the main character in a movie in under half a year because a bunch of studio heads were actual morons and designed a creature that normally only pops up when you read the Necronomicon out loud is that it’s a lot of work. You wanna know how much work? Well, according to one former worker at MPC, 17-hour shifts were a regular thing trying to finish these projects. 17 hours… 17. Most people aren’t even awake for 17 hours in a day and the people working to fix this colossal mistake (By Paramount, I cannot stress this enough, this is all on the company) were worked into the ground.
To be very specific, anywhere between 10 to 17 hours are mentioned as potential shifts. If you wanted to work a normal 8-hour shift (you know, like a normal person who has worth) then you needed to ask permission. You don’t want to work on the weekend because you are a human being who has worth and not a mindless automaton who only exists to appease stupid people who aren’t willing to say “Your precious Sonic movie will be fixed when it’s fixed, we’re not going to torment our workers to get it done fast”? You had to have a really good reason why you weren’t going to turn up or else it was an unauthorised absence… on a weekend. You know, that time when you shouldn’t have to work a 10-17 hour shift because you’re a goddamn person who doesn’t deserve this kind of shabby treatment. Capitalism is fun, isn’t it?
So, how bad do you want your Sonic movie kids? Because hundreds of people almost worked themselves to death to make that happen, was that worth it? For the record, the answer is no, it is not worth it. It’s especially not worth it because up to 800 people (Best numbers I can find, if someone has a better number please add it to the comments) were fired 2 weeks before Christmas with no notice. They went into a meeting, were effectively told “We’re done” and then had to go job hunting because they had to put food on the table. Did I mention this specific company had a hand in working on the movie Maleficent: Mistress of Evil and Detective Pikachu? Because maybe if I had mentioned that you might be even angrier than I hope you are right now because their record should’ve kept them well funded and open longer, or at least long enough that they could provide their workers with enough notice of their impending unemployment that they could try and find new work. The people working in Blockbusters had more notice than these people. Hell, the last article I linked to pointed out that the Vancouver office stepped in to try and help with Cats, they’re basically saints.
But nope, they were crunched into the ground after having to try their best to fix a design that was dictated by out of touch studio executives who didn’t give a damn about what the audience wanted because they hoped their movie would bring in the big bucks. So, what’s the movie like? It’s fine. It’s watchable. Honestly, I spent most of the time wishing they’d kept the devil spawn design, at least then it would be ironically awful instead of mundane and average. It’s a basic road trip movie between James Marsden and a CGI movie, which is something we already had in 2011 with Hop. Some jokes got a laugh, some fun sequences using Sonic’s speed, an interesting bit of representation by making the main character be part of an inter-racial couple (stunningly I need to praise that) and it has a Jim Carrey performance that is exactly what you expect when you see the phrase “A Jim Carrey performance” but other than that it’s mostly just forgettable. A paint-by-numbers film that leans on the charm of it’s leads and the nostalgia brought on by the title characters history. There are a few chuckles here and there, I will not deny that I enjoyed some scenes… but I also chuckled during Alvin and the Chipmunks and Smurfs, doesn’t mean they were great movies. It might amuse some kids but it’s not like they’re going to remember it… and none of it, not a single solitary frame of it, was worth putting an entire studio through a destructive crunch period.
Sonic will not be remembered for the content of the film. I dare say I’ll be stunned if we even remember it happened at all. Sonic will be remembered for the nightmarish trailer that started a chain reaction that destroyed an effects studio and actively hurt people. No movie, no piece of entertainment, nothing is worth that. You do not need to see this film, it’s not interesting enough to be worth your time or your money. The people who needed support were those who worked to themselves into the ground to fix the trailer, and they got the only possible reward they could get by the universal praise of that trailer. That right there proved how amazingly talented everyone in the Vancouver studio of the Moving Picture Company was and I sincerely hope that every single person in that company found a new job at a company that won’t work them into the ground and discard them. Sonic wasn’t worth that, nothing could be.
If I were to judge the film purely on the content (which was so slim I fit it into a half paragraph) it might’ve been a 2 and a ½ or 3 star film that I didn’t hate… art doesn’t occur in a vacuum and the absolute dumpster fire surrounding this project and the people that got stepped on along the way absolutely influenced this score. So if all that doesn’t matter to you then imagin an extra star and a half in the bottom image but since it’s my review, I get to make this call.