It’s perhaps only once in a decade that a film comes along so outrageously bad, it stops being a movie and becomes a punchline. All early indicators point to Sonic The Hedgehog as the next film to join the ranks of films like Battlefield Earth. Since the debut of its trailer last week, reactions have been so outrageously negative that Paramount, in an effort to save the film, have said they plan to re-design the character of Sonic.
There’s just one problem. That’s only one of the things wrong with this movie.
Now was perhaps the worst possible time to make a Sonic movie. It’s not hard to see that the glory days of the series are long gone. Still, since the technology had improved, people thought perhaps now was actually a good time to see a hyper realistic rendition of the character. But we’re all familiar with the old fable ‘be careful what you wish for.’
The moment Sonic appeared in the trailer, the internet went nuclear. Within hours, countless memes and jokes were built around just how terrible this design looked. So much that Paramount and the film’s director said they were planning on changing the character’s appearance based on the feedback.
It is my humble opinion that ship has sailed. Ever since various teaser posters made their debut, everyone knew this character was going to look bad. Reaction to the teaser was so negative that the film’s writer attempted to calm the worries of irate fans. The PR didn’t work very well. In spite of that, Paramount didn’t take the initiative when the opportunity presented itself, and continued to pour money into a sinking ship.
However, the big problem here is not the design. The design is just part of it. Everything about this trailer looks awful. The characters look bad, the effects look bad, the action looks bad. It just all looks bad. Jim Carrey as Dr. Robotnik is perhaps the only thing in the trailer that’s remotely watchable. Knowing that, just what will changing Sonic’s design even fix? The answer is not much.
Firstly, this wasn’t made by people really familiar with the series. One of the consistent problems with video game adaptations, with the exception of the Pokemon animated movies, is they are just plain bad. Usually this comes out of people unfamiliar with the series struggling to adapt it, making something unfamiliar and incoherent in the process. This trailer continues that ill tradition in spectacular fashion, and that’s something no facelift can repair.
The trailer, and the humor in it, is sickeningly contemporary. Much of the humor and set pieces speak of a studio desperate to cash in on the current cinematic universe trends, most notably the MCU. One particular set piece, where Sonic destroys a swarm of incoming missiles, looks suspiciously similar to a scene from X Men: Apocalypse. The advertisement for the film also attempts, very poorly, to imitate the humor that made Guardians of the Galaxy a success, so it’s not hard to imagine a smug executive in Hollywood viewing this as a way to cash in on the popularity of Rocket Raccoon, which is probably why the studio stuck with a more realistic design until the 11th hour. Even the very cover image of this article bears an uncomfortable resemblance to the the teleportation powers of Dr. Strange.
Finally, there’s the question of memorability. Some might say that at least Paramount listening to backlash is a sign of maturity. Truth is, this is probably only going to make things worse. The Sonic trailer was horrible to the point of perfection, and the bad design for the character was the cherry on top. If nothing else, it was memorable in its badness. In changing the design, Paramount is removing that which made the trailer go viral in the first place, taking the spectacularly bad into the bland.
It’s obvious that there’s no saving this movie. Paramount putting more money into this surefire disaster is like throwing gasoline on an inferno. This ship is going down, and Paramount is unlikely to see anything positive come out of it, profits or otherwise. My advice to the studio? Abandon ship. This movie was always destined to fail. Pouring more money into it now will only increase your losses.
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