In the picture

March 8, 2020

Sonic the Hedgehog is a whole lot of fun; All the Bright Places is a derivative young adult melodrama.

Sonic the Hedgehog

Staring: Ben Schwartz (voice), Jim Carrey, James Marsden, and Tika Sumpter

Directed by: Jeff Fowler

Tagline: Try to keep up.

After much-needed revamping following the furore about the character’s uncanny appearance, Sonic the Hedgehog has overcome his initial design hurdles and made his way to cinemas in a surprisingly enjoyable adventure.

Now looking suitably adorable, Sonic (voiced by Ben Schwartz) finds himself evading baddies in this live-action adaptation of the Sega video game franchise.

When his extraordinary powers of supersonic speed make him a target of power hungry bad guys, Sonic is sent to Earth where he must stay hidden and never stop running. If he is discovered, he can use one of his magical rings to create a portal to another planet where he must then continue to live in isolation.

But the loneliness is starting to take a toll on the friendless hedgehog. He has grown fond of the local sheriff, Tom (James Marsden), and his kind veterinarian wife, Maddie (Tika Sumpter), from afar, but can’t risk making contact with humans.

His frustration over his predicament leads him to inadvertently cause an energy surge that knocks out the region’s power. Evil scientific genius Doctor Robotnik (Jim Carrey) is brought in to figure out what happened; he promptly discovers Sonic’s existence and makes it his mission to capture the space creature.

Sonic then ends up joining forces with an initially reluctant Tom to reclaim the rings that he has lost in the ruckus and escape the mad scientist who is on his trail.

The adventure that ensues may not be a cinematic masterpiece but it is still a whole lot of fun. The humour generally works. Young viewers, in particular, are likely be delighted by Sonic’s antics, and there’s enough charm here to keep grownups invested too (even if they may otherwise find the tale simplistic and predictable).

The titular character is lovable; his human sidekick (portrayed by a very charismatic Marsden) is affable. The exuberant Carrey is entertaining in the comedic style he is so well-known for.

Jeff Fowler and his team have done a fairly solid job revamping a project that initially seemed to be going awry. Ultimately, Sonic the Hedgehog may not break any new ground and clearly won’t redefine cinema, but this family-friendly adventure will ensure that viewers have a good time and exit the screening with a smile on their faces.

All the Bright Places

Staring: Elle Fanning, Justice Smith, Alexandra Shipp, Kelli O'Hara, Lamar Johnson,
Keegan-Michael Key, and Luke Wilson

Directed by: Brett Haley

Tagline: Live life at full brightness.

YA cliches converge in All the Bright Places, a tragic teen romance that tries very hard to tug at your heartstrings but fails to make much of an impact.

The story revolves around two high school students, Violet (Elle Fanning) and Finch (Justice Smith). Violet is struggling with the death of her sister. Finch is struggling with mental health issues. The two are brought together when Finch finds Violet standing on the ledge of a bridge. The pair bond with each other after deciding to collaborate on a class project that requires them to explore their home state of Indiana.

The project comes off as derivative from the get-go as the screenplay does little more than put together hackneyed beats. (You can easily tell from the staid storyline and how things unfold that this film found its beginning as a young adult novel.)

The movie’s handling of some of its developments is also a tad problematic; instead of the deep take the difficult topics need, we are given shallow melodrama. The ending in particular is very weak, leaving us with rushed, unconvincing closure instead of the more raw, dark, complex outcome that would have been more realistic.

The acting isn’t exactly stellar either, especially from the stilted Fanning who seems miscast as the lead; her performance is too unnatural, and she does not feel like a good fit for the role. Smith delivers the better performance and keeps the film afloat even though the movie fails to give his story the depth it needs.

There are moments that work, but things do not come together as a touching, convincing whole. Brett Haley makes some good use of cinematography and sound, but, all in all, this predictable drama struggles because of a derivative screenplay drenched in teen drama tropes.

Rating system: ☆on your life ☆ ½ If you really must waste your time ☆☆ Hardly worth the bother ☆☆ ½ Okay for a slow afternoon only ☆☆☆Good enough for a look see ☆☆☆ ½ Recommended viewing ☆☆☆☆ Don’t miss it ☆☆☆☆ ½ Almost perfect ☆☆☆☆☆ Perfection

In the picture: Review on Sonic the Hedgehog, All the Bright Places