Now That It’s Fixed, Should We Support the ‘Sonic the Hedgehog’ Movie?

Now That It’s Fixed, Should We Support the ‘Sonic the Hedgehog’ Movie?

Now That It’s Fixed, Should We Support the ‘Sonic the Hedgehog’ Movie?

When it first debuted earlier this year, the first trailer for Sonic the Hedgehog was justly meant with derision by the world at large.  Featuring a reworked version of Gangster’s Paradise and a horrific CG design for its main character, the movie as-advertised looked to have little to nothing to do with the 16-bit platformer that inspired it in the first place and everything to do with the run of terrible “CGI pet” movies that have flooded movie theaters in recent years.

You know the kinds of movies that I’m talking about: movies like Garfield (2004), Alvin and the Chipmunks (2007) and its “sqeakquels,” Yogi Bear (2010), The Smurfs (2011) and Peter Rabbit (2018).  Movies where some poor shlub gets saddled with a CGI talking animal companion like the dad in Beethoven (1992) and then has to suffer through the indignity of being for the next 90-odd minutes of our lives.  They’re terrible, they’re generic, they’re the lowest common denominator of cinema.  And, for a hot minute there, they seemed to have subsumed the legacy of Sega’s beloved platforming mascot too.

Now That It’s Fixed, Should We Support the ‘Sonic the Hedgehog’ Movie?

Unbelievably, though, Sony actually seemed to listen to these criticisms.  In fact, they took them straight to heart.  The movie was delayed from late 2019 to early 2020 “to make Sonic just right” for his cinematic debut.  Reverting to what was invariably an earlier, unfinished character model for its protagonist and building it up with the help of an additional $35 million, it pushed its already sizable $90 million budget to a more imposing $125 million.

The new trailer, which was revealed about a week ago, looked considerably less horrifying than the first one months prior.  He no longer had human teeth, for one, and his proportions were a bit less like Slenderman as he’s bandying about the screen.  We saw a lot more of the familiar world of the video games, which was nice, and tonally a lot closer to what you would expect from a Sonic movie.  It still looks like the second-cousin to something like Garfield, and a long way off from the new gold standards of Detective Pikachu (2019) and Castlevania.  But it at least looks better, maybe even decent, and Sony did the right thing by changing up their obviously terrible movie in response to public backlash.  If only more studios would be as proactive.

Now That It’s Fixed, Should We Support the ‘Sonic the Hedgehog’ Movie?

And yet, since this new trailer surfaced, an incredibly interesting debate’s been raising in the annals of the internet: one that I never anticipated we’d be having in the wake of the Sonic redesign.  Should we, the moviegoing public, support this movie?

The pro-argument, I think is pretty obvious.  Sony released a shoddy-looking product, we complained, and they went well and above the call of duty to fix the issues that we complained about.  They did this at great expense to them (increasingly the movie’s budget by over one third) and pushed their release window back into the next year (although I would imagine that the Valentine’s Day release would do better than the original early November one).  It’s a healthy repartee that, presumably, resulted in a better overall product.  Even though the movie still doesn’t look that great, if we want Sony (and other studios) to act similarly in the future, we need to support them when they do, in fact, listen to us.

Now That It’s Fixed, Should We Support the ‘Sonic the Hedgehog’ Movie?

Those arguing against the movie still, however, also have some good points.  The movie, after all, still looks pretty bad, and many resent the narrative shift where the responsibility of seeing the movie is all of a sudden their burden to bear just because Sony went back to the drawing board.  Others are concerned about the working conditions for the movies animators, who had to reanimate the entire movie to accommodate design changes to the title character, even if they didn’t necessarily have to go all the way back to scratch at the same time (likely, they were able to use an earlier model of the character and flesh it out from there).  We shouldn’t be supporting video game industry crunch-times (of unpaid overtime and grueling work conditions) just to make mediocre video game movies.

The answer to this conundrum is far from clear and likely to vary from person to person.  Of course, you shouldn’t support bad movies if you can help it (or, rather, movies that you’re pretty sure you aren’t going to like going into them), and you shouldn’t support exploitative business practices against employees who are just trying to do their job.  At the same time, though, if we wholesale abandon the movie after Sony went back and revamped the entire movie, studios will be less inclined to listen to constructive criticisms of their movies in the future, which will likely hurt us in the long run.

Now That It’s Fixed, Should We Support the ‘Sonic the Hedgehog’ Movie?

Maybe the answer is to split the difference.  Don’t see the movie opening weekend (when the box office is most crucially important for studios), but see it the following weeks as an overall point of support?  Maybe see it if you were on the fence for it, but skip out on it if you were never going to see it anyway?  I dunno.  It’s a weird situation to find oneself in as a movie fan.

I, for one, will probably see it in theaters… eventually.  I don’t want to push Smurf-like movies too hard, but I do want to see what improved dialog between moviegoers and movie studios will look like going forward.  I know 2020 looks a bit lean from our current vantage point, but Birds of Prey (2020) in its second week could be a fun alternative, or maybe Fantasy Island (2020)?  All I know for sure is that Denis Villeneuve’s Dune (2020) can’t get here quick enough.

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