Critics Consensus

Sonic the Hedgehog Is Familiar but Fine Family Fun

Plus, The Photograph is soulful if slow, Downhill is disappointing, Potrait of a Lady on Fire and Ordinary Love are Certified Fresh, and guess Fantasy Island's Tomatometer.

by | February 13, 2020 | Comments

This week at the movies, we’ve got a blue speedster (Sonic the Hedgehog, starring James Marsden and the voice of Ben Schwartz), a budding romance (The Photograph, starring Issa Rae and the voice of LaKeith Stanfield), a fateful fight-or-flight fiasco (Downhill, starring Will Ferrell and Julia Louis-Dreyfus), and a dangerous getaway (Fantasy Island, starring Lucy Hale and Michael Peña). What are the critics saying?


Sonic the Hedgehog (2020) 63%

Over the course of the past couple decades and change, movies based on video games have earned a reputation as subpar entertainment, to be generous. Critically speaking, things trended a bit upward in 2018 with Rampage (51%) and the Tomb Raider reboot (52%), and 2019 saw the genre’s first two Fresh entries in Pokémon: Detective Pikachu (69%) and The Angry Birds Movie 2 (73%), which currently sit at #2 and #1, respectively, on our list of all video game movies ranked. With that context in mind, we come to 2020 and Sonic the Hedgehog, an animated/live-action hybrid adventure in which the titular Sega hero (voiced by Ben Schwartz) travels to Earth from his home planet, befriends a local sheriff (James Marsden), and attempts evade capture by the nefarious Dr. Robotnik (Jim Carrey), who hopes to harness Sonic’s power for evil. The film endured a minor controversy when its first trailer premiered and longtime fans cried foul at Sonic’s subtly creepy character design, but after the folks behind the film pushed its release date back and reworked the visuals, most moviegoers seemed optimistic. As it turns out, those moviegoers weren’t entirely misguided, as critics say Sonic the Hedgehog is mostly wholesome family fun, with a lively performance from Carrey that harkens back to his 1990s heyday. The jokes may not all land, but there are a lot of them that come at you, and while the rest of the film largely caters to a younger audience, there’s enough in there for adults to ensure a trip to the theater won’t be entirely mind-numbing.


The Photograph (2020) 74%

Being that Friday is Valentine’s Day, it’s only appropriate that at least one of the big releases is a romance. This year, that romance is The Photograph, which stars Issa Rae as Mae, a museum curator whose estranged photographer mother suddenly dies, leaving clues to her storied life behind for her daughter. As Mae begins to pick up the pieces, a journalist named Michael (LaKeith Stanfield) shows up looking to write a story about her mother, and the two of them find they share an undeniable connection. Critics say The Photograph, which cuts between Mae’s relationship with Michael and her mother’s own love story in the past, is a quiet, soulful romance that explores the ways in which one generation’s decisions can echo into the next. While Rae and Stanfield are arguably better known for their comedic work, the reviews point out their easy chemistry as dramatic leads, with a solid supporting cast — which includes Lil Rel Howery, Teyonah Paris, and Chelsea Peretti — helping to flesh out the narrative. Some may find the film a tad languid for their tastes, and the storytelling may not be quite clever enough to offer many surprises, but The Photograph rests on the strength of its stars, who all do admirable work.


Downhill (2020) 38%

On the flipside of The Photograph, we have Downhill, which charts the steady breakdown of a marriage after a near tragedy. Said couple is played by Will Ferrell and Julia Louis-Dreyfus, who play Pete and Billie Staunton, an American couple with two kids who travel to Europe for an Alpine ski vacation. When a controlled avalanche set off by the resort induces a momentary panic, Pete flees the scene and abandons his family, causing a rift between him and Billie that forces them to reexamine their relationship. Directed and adapted by Nat Faxon and Jim Rash (The Way Way Back), Downhill is an English-language remake of the 2014 Swedish dark comedy Force Majeure, and critics say what could and should have been a fantastic reinterpretation is merely a pale imitation of its predecessor. While Ferrell and Louis-Dreyfus have proven in the past that they can handle subtler material, reviews say Ferrell’s character in particular seems to have lost the edge that made his existential dilemma in the original film so palpable, and the overall softening of the themes at play undermines the satire at its core. In the end, Downhill is a safer, watered-down rendition of the story, neither as darkly funny nor as poignantly subversive as its Swedish counterpart, and it’s likely to go down as something of a missed opportunity.


Fantasy Island (2020) 7%

For anyone too young to remember, Fantasy Island began as a television series that ran from 1977 to 1984, centering around a mystical vacation destination where visitors could live out their fantasies… for a price. The proprietor of the island, one mysterious Mr. Roarke (played by Ricardo Montalbán), mostly used the fantasies as a means of teaching his guests valuable moral lessons, and while the admittedly Faustian premise rarely turned deadly, there was often a hint of menace in its Twilight Zone-esque storylines. All of that said, leave it to Blumhouse to take that premise and put a horror spin on it in this week’s Fantasy Island, in which Michael Peña’s Mr. Roarke plays host to a group of young visitors who get a lot more than they bargained for when they disembark “ze plane” in hopes of fulfilling their wildest fantasies. Things don’t quite work out according to plan, of course, and their jaunty, indulgent adventures quickly take a turn for the horrific. We’d love to tell you what the critics thought of Fantasy Island, but reviews won’t start pouring in until Friday morning, so in the meantime, guess that Tomatometer.


Also Opening This Week In Limited Release

  • The Rest of Us (2020) , starring Heather Graham in a drama about a woman who connects with her recently deceased ex-husband’s new family, is at 100%.
  • Portrait of a Lady on Fire (Portrait de la jeune fille en feu) (2020) , a period drama about a woman hired to secretly paint the portrait of a reluctant bride, only for the two to fall in love, is Certified Fresh at 98%.
  • VFW (2020) , an action-horror film about a group of veterans at a bar fending off an attack from drug-dealing mutants, is at 95%.
  • After Midnight (Something Else) (2020) , a horror-mystery about a man mourning a recent break-up who is visited by an unseen creature at night, is at 94%.
  • Come As You Are (2020) , a road-trip comedy about a trio of young disabled men who make a run to Canada to visit a brothel that caters to special needs, is at 94%.
  • Ordinary Love (2020) , starring Liam Neeson and Lesley Manville in a drama about an aging couple dealing with the wife’s breast cancer diagnosis, is Certified Fresh at 92%.
  • The Cordillera of Dreams (La cordillera de los sueños) (2020) , a documentary rumination on the Andes mountains and their influence on the culture and history of Chile, is at 85%.
  • I Was at Home, But... (Ich war zuhause, aber...) (2020) , a non-linear drama about a woman struggling with life and her relationship to her teenage son after the death of her husband, is at 83%.
  • A Simple Wedding (2020) , a romantic comedy about a young Iranian-American woman who falls for a DJ and struggles against her disapproving family’s traditional views, is at 78%.
  • Buffaloed (2020) , starring Zoey Deutch in a comedy about a teen who hatches a sketchy plan to pay for her college tuition, is at 72%.
  • Olympic Dreams (2020) , a romantic comedy about an Olympic cross-country skier who falls in love with a dentist, is at 64%.
  • The Times of Bill Cunningham (2020) , a documentary profile of the titular photographer’s remarkable life, is at 60%.
  • The Kindness of Strangers (2020) , an ensemble drama about six struggling people in New York City whose lives intersect, is at 14%.

Like this? Subscribe to our newsletter and get more features, news, and guides in your inbox every week.

Tag Cloud

Paramount psycho Lionsgate space what to watch period drama spider-man Sundance Red Carpet golden globes GoT cancelled television classics Tubi Mary Poppins Returns Captain marvel Sony Pictures History VICE Fox Searchlight DC Universe First Reviews Esquire discovery Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt TV renewals fresh docudrama Marvel Studios Binge Guide halloween tv VOD Action police drama BET Awards doctor who Emmys Apple TV Plus 4/20 OneApp Spring TV jurassic park comedies boxoffice singing competition Certified Fresh Pirates dramedy anthology emmy awards SundanceTV canceled TV shows 45 Disney streaming service godzilla Rock 21st Century Fox miniseries Bravo Drama natural history Nickelodeon italian australia movies YouTube Hallmark Christmas movies Apple razzies Comic Book Crunchyroll Comedy boxing Watching Series blockbuster Rocky kong TV Land X-Men PlayStation Chernobyl Pop TV Amazon Prime Video Academy Awards Video Games cancelled TV shows Emmy Nominations war Holiday Discovery Channel crossover trailers name the review Awards dc anime true crime TCM political drama video Amazon Cartoon Network WarnerMedia robots Kids & Family Interview Premiere Dates Calendar free movies social media remakes ESPN sports Winners women Cannes Columbia Pictures Brie Larson Pet Sematary news FX TIFF Tomatazos VH1 93rd Oscars crime children's TV Travel Channel asian-american Pixar ABC Signature Netflix jamie lee curtis unscripted Rocketman Comedy Central psychological thriller Logo Baby Yoda Holidays Song of Ice and Fire HBO romantic comedy Universal GIFs Heroines The Walking Dead Comics on TV Disney Channel Mary poppins Crackle canceled disaster Reality Competition versus The Purge die hard dceu halloween sequel MCU popular docuseries festival 24 frames TV One ratings revenge universal monsters Ghostbusters comiccon thriller ViacomCBS indiana jones Classic Film CW Seed reboot BAFTA stoner TCA Winter 2020 Chilling Adventures of Sabrina Teen Mudbound directors batman Rom-Com Star Trek Tumblr nature Set visit GLAAD obituary Superheroes Sundance Now casting Hear Us Out new star wars movies DC streaming service LGBTQ 2017 Mystery Food Network First Look 2020 WGN dogs Pride Month japanese twilight telelvision sag awards Opinion golden globe awards transformers game show spinoff romance Sneak Peek Spectrum Originals nbcuniversal Peacock streaming E3 video on demand award winner zombies rom-coms Grammys BBC America AMC crime thriller Black History Month strong female leads NBC Sci-Fi technology Infographic Netflix Christmas movies Stephen King ITV Reality Masterpiece Photos ID 20th Century Fox green book theme song FX on Hulu book dragons binge kaiju The CW Trailer Marvel Television Box Office BBC One Hulu FOX sequels critics harry potter CNN Adult Swim latino TV Oscars franchise Warner Bros. Arrowverse Exclusive Video Walt Disney Pictures Amazon Prime comic books CMT a nightmare on elm street elevated horror Broadway cats Thanksgiving cooking travel Pop prank blaxploitation french television Showtime CBS All Access USA Network HBO Max ghosts documentaries fast and furious tv talk nfl festivals 007 spain Schedule Anna Paquin laika Awards Tour science fiction football Avengers Endgame TLC slashers comic Paramount Plus BET Podcast Amazon Studios rotten movies we love A24 cancelled TV series Nat Geo Britbox blockbusters worst Film Quiz Trophy Talk vampires PaleyFest chucky Best and Worst quibi Polls and Games Freeform Ovation cops Family Music all-time Marvel HBO Go OWN Trivia APB Musical 2018 series MSNBC Disney+ Disney Plus Television Academy Apple TV+ Writers Guild of America book adaptation Animation indie Biopics richard e. Grant NYCC scorecard El Rey mission: impossible The Walt Disney Company cancelled Dark Horse Comics hist TBS Extras deadpool The Academy 78th Annual Golden Globe Awards superman Mindy Kaling Sundance TV Lifetime cults Paramount Network Toys heist movie biography Television Critics Association RT21 ABC The Witch TNT Shudder hispanic crime drama Syfy zero dark thirty south america Turner MTV Creative Arts Emmys Lucasfilm Superheroe sitcom king kong Country Countdown renewed TV shows Tarantino screen actors guild independent National Geographic medical drama rt archives Lifetime Christmas movies Starz Mary Tyler Moore teaser finale YA spy thriller Spike pirates of the caribbean 72 Emmy Awards game of thrones hollywood RT History supernatural Women's History Month See It Skip It breaking bad Fox News toronto concert Disney Plus talk show Elton John mockumentary christmas movies E! spanish Vudu cars scary movies parents Nominations Star Wars TCA Awards adventure zombie Election venice stand-up comedy Film Festival 2019 New York Comic Con Turner Classic Movies 2021 Hallmark mutant Character Guide FXX TCA 2017 San Diego Comic-Con toy story 71st Emmy Awards Musicals DGA comics Acorn TV joker YouTube Red child's play cartoon adaptation hidden camera IFC Films American Society of Cinematographers DC Comics BBC films TruTV stop motion animated TCA satire Fantasy criterion DirecTV kids Disney movie SXSW Fall TV superhero rotten Summer spanish language Christmas worst movies The Arrangement President Legendary james bond Ellie Kemper serial killer screenings foreign archives Super Bowl LGBT cinemax 2015 2016 Epix Shondaland best Alien monster movies A&E composers Year in Review 99% witnail Marathons Western Cosplay documentary black Martial Arts diversity Funimation IFC based on movie Black Mirror SDCC USA reviews CBS politics Winter TV historical drama Horror justice league werewolf ABC Family PBS YouTube Premium facebook aliens Valentine's Day dark