Sonic the Hedgehog 2 Reviews: Dazzling Visuals and An Amped Up Jim Carrey Save the Day

Critics say the film's human characters (who aren't Jim Carrey) and overlong runtime weigh it down, but there's still plenty for the whole family to enjoy.

by | April 4, 2022 | Comments

The super-fast blue alien hedgehog is back, and this time he’s brought a friend. Sonic the Hedgehog 2 follows up the hit 2020 video game adaptation with the addition of the beloved character Tails, but the sequel also introduces the villainous Knuckles (voiced by Idris Elba), a super-strong echidna who teams up with Jim Carrey’s returning nemesis, Dr. Robotnik. How does the new movie compare to the original, and is it worth seeing? Find all your answers below as we break down the first reviews of the second Sonic.

Here’s what critics are saying about Sonic the Hedgehog 2:

How does this film compare to the first?

Sonic The Hedgehog 2 takes all the best elements of the first film and amps them up to 11. – Collier Jennings, But Why Tho? A Geek Community

Sonic the Hedgehog 2 is a more confident movie than its predecessor. – Ian Sandwell, Digital Spy

If I were put on the spot and forced to rewatch one, I would confidently choose this. – Robert Kojder, Flickering Myth

In every respect Sonic The Hedgehog 2 is really just more of the same. – John Nugent, Empire Magazine

Sonic the Hedgehog 2 improves upon its predecessor in many ways, while falling short in a few others. – Alex Stedman, IGN Movies

A similarly enjoyable cash cow with some welcomed, if far from revolutionary, idiosyncrasy. – Carlos Aguilar, TheWrap

Takes what was endearing about the original — in a word, personality — and renders it generic in a hurry. – Peter Debruge, Variety

The original just edges out the sequel. – Bradley Russell, Total Film

Does it honor the Sonic video games?

Sonic, Tails, and Knuckles feel like they stepped out of the SEGA console and into real life. – Collier Jennings, But Why Tho? A Geek Community

When Sonic and Knuckles go head-to-head, it really feels like the games brought to life. – Ian Sandwell, Digital Spy

The flick leans harder into imagery from the classic games (a scene referencing Sonic’s inability to swim is a standout), which will undoubtedly delight nostalgic ’90s fans. – Sean Keane, CNET

The first film often felt ashamed about being about its source material… Sonic the Hedgehog 2 hedges all its bets on its hedgehog, flying fox, and echidna shenanigans. – Douglas Laman, The Spool

Sonic the Hedgehog 2 is probably as good as a Sonic adaptation is going to get without abandoning human characters outright. – Robert Kojder, Flickering Myth

The first 90 minutes of Sonic 2 are actually pretty clever, thanks to all the creative ways the screenwriters devised to honor the games without derailing the plot. – Peter Debruge, Variety

Its character designs accurately mirror those lifeless NPC stares, meant to give off the vague appearance of humanity. – Siddhant Adlakha, IndieWire

Jim Carrey as Dr. Robotnik in Sonic the Hedgehog 2

(Photo by ©Paramount Pictures)

Is Jim Carrey still the best reason to see it?

It’s possibly the most Jim Carrey of all Jim Carrey performances… It’s Carrey at his over-the-top best. – Alex Stedman, IGN Movies

As with the first film, the closest thing here to a saving grace is Jim Carrey… It’s through Carrey that the film shows rare flashes of self-awareness. – John Nugent, Empire Magazine

It’s hard to watch Carrey at work here and not wish he’d take on a greater number of acting gigs because he remains one hell of a talent and a joy to watch practice his craft. – Josh Wilding,

Jim Carrey still dials up about five notches too quirky and irreverent but nonetheless gives off a closer vibe to his digital counterpart. – Robert Kojder, Flickering Myth

[He is] kind of fantastic but pitching his performance’s energy at the level of a nuclear reactor in meltdown. – Leslie Felperin, Guardian

Even Carrey is just schtick-ing hard for his paycheck… but he rarely if ever hits the comic bullseye. – David Jenkins, Little White Lies

He feels much more physically restrained here; he’s more punny than slapstick, which is so blatant a misuse of his talents that it ought to be punishable by law. – Siddhant Adlakha, IndieWire

Carrey has swapped quality for quantity. It’s a miscalculation. – Douglas Laman, The Spool

How are the new characters?

Elba is never overshadowed and we can’t wait for that Knuckles spinoff. – Josh Wilding,

Idris Elba [is] like a Poundshop Drax The Destroyer. – John Nugent, Empire Magazine

Elba brings a real sense of gravitas to what could have otherwise been an overly po-faced role. – Bradley Russell, Total Film

Every sequence focusing on Sonic and pals is so visually delightful and thoroughly dazzling that it’s hard not to revel in the CGI spectacle and pop culture references. – Sean Keane, CNET

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. – Ian Sandwell, Digital Spy

O’Shaughnessey shows up both actors and then some… The prolific voice actress runs circles around Elba and Schwartz with her lively and distinctly cartoonish cadence. – Siddhant Adlakha, IndieWire

Tails gets lost in all the mayhem… At its weakest, Sonic the Hedgehog 2 treats Tails as so superfluous that he gets unconscious for an extended sequence with no impact on the story. – Douglas Laman, The Spool

Knuckles the Echidna (voiced by Idris Elba) in Sonic the Hedgehog 2

(Photo by ©Paramount Pictures)

What about the story?

It’s easy to get sucked into their quest for a shiny green MacGuffin. – Sean Keane, CNET

The plot is a somewhat inconsequential, bog-standard MacGuffin hunt. – John Nugent, Empire Magazine

The breezy adventure is later brought to a screeching halt in disappointing fashion by a baffling sub-plot. – Bradley Russell, Total Film

Stuffing so much “new” into the sequel overall hurt the story from a creative perspective. Not flowing as easily as the first Sonic movie, the script felt forced, choppy and sometimes confusing. – Christie Cronan, Raising Whasians

Screenwriters John Whittington, Pat Casey, and Josh Miller haven’t so much come up with a plot for Sonic the Hedgehog 2 as taken several different storylines and smashed them together. – Douglas Laman, The Spool

The simplicity of the movie’s easily recognizable narrative structure allows the filmmakers to pile on a nearly incessant series of incidents that rapidly morph into major set pieces dominated by rapid cutting and jarring sound effects. – Justin Lowe, Hollywood Reporter

The script feels like it was a poor first draft. – David Jenkins, Little White Lies

Is there a message behind it all?

Themes of family, friendship, and the true meaning of heroism add heartwarming lessons to wholesome entertainment. – Julian Roman, MovieWeb

The overall heart of its message largely makes up for its shortcomings. Yes, we’ve seen the “power of friendship!” message over and over again in kids’ movies, but Sonic the Hedgehog 2 really makes it work. – Alex Stedman, IGN Movies

This evolving family dynamic may be relatable, but it’s rarely particularly persuasive, as Sonic’s increasingly extreme antics put him beyond the reach of any pretense of parental guidance, which Tom and Maddie effectively abdicate anyway by leaving town. – Justin Lowe, Hollywood Reporter

Sonic (voiced by Ben Schwartz) and James Marsden as Tom in Sonic the Hedgehog 2

(Photo by ©Paramount Pictures)

Will the whole family enjoy the film?

Sonic the Hedgehog 2 will definitely have the whole family cheering non-stop. – Christie Cronan, Raising Whasians

Kids will love it, adult Sonic fans will go nuts for it, and the rest of us will find it a pleasant diversion. – Douglas Laman, The Spool

A liberal sprinkling of adult gags – including a glorious eye roll of a mushroom pun – keep Sonic 2 from being a kids-only affair. – Bradley Russell, Total Film

It’s Elba’s deep tone, speaking about casual earthling pleasures like ice cream with regal seriousness, that provides the comedy that might resonate more with adults. – Carlos Aguilar, TheWrap

Sometimes a film is solely designed for the youngens. Sonic the Hedgehog 2 is one of those films… Jeff Fowler’s family fantasy sequel is strictly for the kids. – Peter Gray, This Is Film

There are times when the balance between appealing to children and adults doesn’t quite work. – Ian Sandwell, Digital Spy

The half-formed allusions to a story of family and friendship suggest a four-quadrant family movie, but no two consecutive scenes, jokes, or story beats seem likely to hold any one group’s attention for long enough. – Siddhant Adlakha, IndieWire

Is Sonic 2 funny?

While the joke hit rate isn’t as high as it should be, there are still laugh-out-loud moments to be had. – Bradley Russell, Total Film

It’s mildly amusing. – Leslie Felperin, Guardian

The jokes are still, on the whole, bad. – John Nugent, Empire Magazine

No matter how intelligently sarcastic some of the gags are, and there are many of those, we are often reminded these movies exist to make a quick buck rather than have a long-lasting legacy. – Carlos Aguilar, TheWrap

This sequel is as wearying and unfunny. – Josh Spiegel, Slashfilm

Knuckles (voiced by Idris Elba) and Sonic (voiced by Ben Schwartz) clash in Sonic the Hedgehog 2

(Photo by ©Paramount Pictures)

How is the action?

Thanks to some seriously impressive action set pieces that blow away what we saw in the first movie, you’ll have endless fun with this awesome sequel. – Josh Wilding,

The entertaining CGI scraps between Sonic and Knuckles also showcase director Jeff Fowler’s sharper eye for action this time around. – Bradley Russell, Total Film

Sonic the Hedgehog 2 also embraces action and blockbuster spectacle more… with markedly improved special effects that are pretty fantastic this time around. – Robert Kojder, Flickering Myth

A battle sequence involving Robotnik’s giant mecha creation stands out for its visual intricacy. – Carlos Aguilar, TheWrap

The CGI action looks incredible… I just happened to see a little boy sitting several rows in front of me. His jaw was literally dropped in amazement. That’s a good sign from the target audience. – Julian Roman, MovieWeb

[There’s] reliance on too much over-the-top cartoonish action, however, with borderline bonkers plot developments breathlessly deployed at a clip recalling the movie’s video-game origins. – Justin Lowe, Hollywood Reporter

Is it too long?

It’s never a chore to sit through. – Douglas Laman, The Spool

There’s no earthly reason that it should all have taken two hours. – Leslie Felperin, Guardian

There is no good reason for this movie, or any movie about a fast-talking and fast-moving hedgehog, to be two hours long, especially when it feels closer to three hours long. – Josh Spiegel, Slashfilm

It all goes on a bit too 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. – Ian Sandwell, Digital Spy

An hour and a half would’ve been a perfectly fine run-time, whereas at two hours and change, Sonic 2 wears out its welcome well before it turns into yet another phone-it-in franchise entry. – Peter Debruge, Variety

Yes, there’s a whole Sonic Cinematic Universe to establish, but as a standalone entry, it could’ve done all that and still wrapped up 20 minutes earlier. – Alex Stedman, IGN Movies

Tika Sumpter and James Marsden in Sonic the Hedgehog 2

(Photo by ©Paramount Pictures)

Are there any other problems?

Sonic the Hedgehog 2’s biggest flaw is that it doesn’t quite know how to juggle the characters and storyline from the previous movie gracefully as it ushers in its new players. – Alex Stedman, IGN Movies

To put it bluntly, the human characters – Dr. Robotnik aside – just aren’t as interesting as their animated counterparts. – Ian Sandwell, Digital Spy

The humans in the film fare pretty poorly, as was the case with the first one… Marsden is far more talented than this whole bloated IP nonsense. – Josh Spiegel, Slashfilm

Most of the returning live action characters took a back seat, and sometimes suffered in poor script writing, extended scenes with no purpose, and what felt like forced live action comedy. – Christie Cronan, Raising Whasians

These sequences give Natasha Rothwell the chance to show her comedic chops as the stressed out bride, but they outstay their welcome. – Sean Keane, CNET

One wonders if a fully animated take on Sonic would best serve the material. – Carlos Aguilar, TheWrap

It looks like the effects artists have literally forgotten key parts of the animation. The grim reality is that the makers know this is Sonic 2, and that noone is really going to care. – Adi David Jenkins, Little White Lies

Will we want another sequel after this?

This snappy sequel proves Sonic’s race isn’t run yet. Far from it. – Bradley Russell, Total Film

A note to the filmmakers, shorter is sweeter for family fare. The next installment should not be over two hours. – Julian Roman, MovieWeb

A word of advice to the studio: Don’t rush it. – Peter Debruge, Variety

Sonic the Hedgehog 2 opens in theaters on April 8, 2022.

Thumbnail by ©Paramount Pictures

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