Film Review: Sonic the Hedgehog (2020)

Release Date: January 25th, 2020 (Los Angeles premiere)
Directed by: Jeff Fowler
Written by: Pat Casey, Josh Miller
Based on: Sonic the Hedgehog by Sega
Music by: Tom Holkenborg
Cast: Ben Schwartz, James Marsden, Tika Sumpter, Jim Carrey, Natasha Rothwell, Adam Pally, Neal McDonough

Original Film, Sega Sammy Group, Paramount Pictures, 99 Minutes

Review:

“Why do you keep calling me Donut Lord?” – Tom, “Because you talk to donuts and then eat them if they get out of line.” – Sonic

I’ll be honest, I initially didn’t have much interest in a live-action Sonic the Hedgehog movie and frankly, I wasn’t sure how they could do one without bringing the title character into the normal world. Well, that’s exactly what they did and while that’s somewhat predictable, it still worked and I enjoyed this quite a bit.

When the trailer for this movie first dropped, fans were taken aback by the look of the Sonic character. Because of backlash over the character design, the director and the study delayed the film’s release in order to rework Sonic’s design to be much closer to the video games.

Frankly, I was impressed by this, as it happen in a time where if fans are displeased, studios and their media minions dismiss them as “toxic” and then ignore their feedback on the road to crashing and burning.

Because of that, I felt somewhat compelled to support the movie because the people making it just wanted to make the best movie they could for the fans. I didn’t see this in the theater, as I had a lot going on last February and then COVID happened. However, I finally got around to it and this movie I would’ve otherwise dismissed, won me over and actually has me interested in its upcoming sequel. And had the filmmakers not made the changes to the movie, a sequel probably wouldn’t have happened.

The three leads in this movie are just great.

I love Ben Schwartz as the voice of Sonic and he gives life to the character and just meshes well with the spirit of the franchise. Honestly, I think he was the perfect choice and I can’t think of anyone who would’ve done a better job.

James Marsden was enjoyable too and I’ve always liked him since he was Cyclops in the original X-Men trilogy of films. The dude never friggin’ ages and with that, he always has a youthful energy about him, even though he has the presence of someone closer to middle age. He spent this entire movie playing off of a CGI character that didn’t exist until post-production and he does a pretty stupendous job in making his interactions with Sonic believable. The two characters formed a solid bond over the course of the movie and I can’t wait to see more of it in the next chapter.

The real scene stealer, though, was Jim Carrey as Dr. Robotnik a.k.a. Eggman. I thought it was initially odd casting, as he doesn’t look like the traditional version of Robotnik but you kind of don’t care because he’s so damn good that it’s hard not to love the character. In fact, this is one of my favorite Jim Carrey performances of all-time and honestly, I hope once more films are out, it reinvigorates him and gets his career back on the right trajectory. Also, spoiler alert: by the end of the movie, we see that he’s becoming a more accurate physical representation of the Robotnik character.

The best thing about this movie is something I’ve pointed out in several reviews lately. It’s just great escapism. This is a quality that seems to be growing in importance to me, more and more, as modern movies have lost this.

Nowadays, we’re bombarded with Hollywood’s political and social commentary in everything. It’s just nice to have a new film that is just fun and doesn’t beat you over the head with any sort of message or agenda.

This is what films like Sonic the Hedgehog are supposed to be. Just entertain me. Life has enough crap and sometimes I want to forget about it for a few hours. Sonic the Hedgehog did just that. It made me smile, it kept me engaged and it didn’t go out of its way to tell me I’m a horrible person because of X, Y and Z.

Rating: 7.25/10
Pairs well with: other recent, mostly kid friendly blockbusters.

Film Review: The Dead Pool (1988)

Also known as: Dirty Harry in The Dead Pool (poster title), Dirty Harry 5 (alternative title)
Release Date: July 13th, 1988
Directed by: Buddy Van Horn
Written by: Steve Sharon, Durk Pearson, Sandy Shaw
Based on: characters by Harry Julian Fink, R.M. Fink 
Music by: Lalo Schifrin
Cast: Clint Eastwood, Patricia Clarkson, Liam Neeson, Evan Kim, David Hunt, Michael Currie, Michael Goodwin, Jim Carrey, Marc Alaimo, Justin Whalin, Guns N’ Roses (cameo)

Malpaso Productions, Warner Bros., 91 Minutes

Review:

“Well, opinions are like assholes. Everybody has one.” – ‘Dirty’ Harry Callahan

This is it, the fifth and final Dirty Harry movie. It’s also the one that most people seem to like the least. However, I like it a tad bit more than the fourth film, Sudden Impact.

While far from great, I like this movie because it features an interesting plot, even if it’s not executed greatly. Also, the car chase scene with the remote control bomb car blew my mind, as a kid, and I still love the hell out of that whole sequence 32 years later.

Clint Eastwood is still great as Dirty Harry and this movie feels like it fits better within the series, as a whole, where the previous movie took him out of San Francisco and made him do cop work while essentially on vacation.

I like his energy, here, and at this point, the character is really just an extension of Eastwood and he can coast through this thing on auto pilot and still nail it.

This movie also benefits from having a young but capable Liam Neeson, alongside Patricia Clarkson and a very young and not so comedic Jim Carrey. I really dig the hell out of Carrey in this and even if his performance isn’t anything close to perfect, he did show that he was capable of acting beyond the requirements of his earlier comedic roles.

This film is short and sweet, just being around ninety minutes and not over two hours like the drawn out chore that was Sudden Impact. It’s action packed, moves briskly and doesn’t waste time on trying to make a more complex plot. These films don’t need to be that, they just need to kick ass, take names and then kick more ass.

I feel like the ’80s Dirty Harry pictures can’t really compete with the solid ’70s ones. However, this is still a better than decent ’80s action flick that knew how to get to the point while amassing a respectable body count in the process.

Rating: 6.5/10
Pairs well with: the other Dirty Harry movies, as well as the Death Wish series.

Film Review: Batman Forever (1995)

Release Date: June 9th, 1995 (Mann Village Theater)
Directed by: Joel Schumacher
Written by: Lee Batchler, Janet Scott Batchler, Akiva Goldsman
Based on: Batman by Bob Kane, Bill Finger
Music by: Elliot Goldenthal
Cast: Val Kilmer, Tommy Lee Jones, Jim Carrey, Nicole Kidman, Chris O’Donnell, Michael Gough, Pat Hingle, Drew Barrymore, Debi Mazar, René Auberjonois, Don “The Dragon” Wilson, En Vogue, Ed Begley Jr.

Warner Bros., 122 Minutes

Review:

“Can I persuade you to take a sandwich with you, sir?” – Alfred Pennyworth, “I’ll get drive-thru.” – Batman

People like to trash Batman & Robin as one of the worst films ever made. It’s far from one of the worst ever. But most people haven’t really dug as deep into the shit barrel as I have. And truthfully, this movie is much worse.

People also love trashing the Schumacher Batman films as a whole but typically say that Batman Forever is okay. No, it absolutely is not okay. It is one of the worst comic book adaptations of all-time. It doesn’t understand the source material at all and it is a clusterfuck of biblical proportions capped off by horrible characters, horrible acting, ugly as hell sets and a hefty helping of several awful ’90s tropes.

Generally I like Val Kilmer. He’s horrible in this and either severely miscast or had such a bad script and direction that he just showed up, read his lines dryly and went back to his trailer to bang babes. I’m going to say that it is both of those things. It’s like no one that made this movie gave a shit about it at all and they just did a bunch of cocaine and then took a shit ton of downers before going on set.

Well, except for Tommy Lee Jones and Jim Carrey, they acted like they were on cocaine mixed with speed. And really, their versions of Two-Face and the Riddler made no sense within the context of who those characters are.

Tommy Lee’s Two-Face was like a crazier version of the Joker and turned up to 11. He was a coked up gorilla dressed like a circus performer. Carrey’s Riddler was another crazier version of the Joker mixed with his Fire Marshall Bill character from the sketch comedy show In Living Color. But I’m also someone that never got Jim Carrey’s appeal and always thought of him as an annoying asshole, excluding Dumb and Dumber and his dramatic work after the ’90s.

Nicole Kidman is completely wasted as the overly horny psychiatrist trying to get into Batman’s head and pants. Chris O’Donnell wasn’t necessarily a bad Robin but the character is a kid, not a thirty year-old. It’s like they took their casting cues from Beverly Hills 90210, a show synonymous for trying to pass off thirty year-olds as high school students.

Well, at least Pat Hingle and Michael Gough are back as Commissioner Gordon and Alfred but really, I just feel bad for them. Hopefully they got paid well.

The film also features nipples being added to the Bat-suit, I’m not shitting you. Plus, it has gratuitous Bat-butt and Bat-crotch action shots.

Lastly, the beautiful Danny Elfman score has been replaced by an awful brassy explosion that never lets up, courtesy of Elliot Goldenthal, who was apparently trying to destroy our eardrums. The Elfman theme and scores were a magnificent part of the Burton films but I guess if Warner Bros. wanted to distance themselves from quality and align themselves with a foot long double meat shit sandwich, than this was a necessary change.

This movie is a steaming pile of neon accented bear droppings. It most certainly needs to be run through the Cinespiria Shitometer. The results read, “Type 4 Stool: Like a sausage or snake, smooth and soft.”

Rating: 3.25/10