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Sonic The Hedgehog 2 Review: The Sega Sequel Takes This Franchise To The Next Level

Sonic 2 is a true blue sequel to believe in.

Sonic the Hedgehog heroically crouching on a biplane in Sonic the Hedgehog 2.
(Image: © Paramount/Sega)

Who could have ever imagined that a Sonic the Hedgehog movie could become a successful box office draw, with scores of fans digging the final result? What looked like rough waters thanks to the backlash aimed at early character design turned into smooth sailing for the 2020 origin story to Paramount and Sega’s franchise starter. The results spoke for themselves, and soon enough Jeff Fowler's Sonic the Hedgehog 2 was greenlit – which only led to a greater challenge: crafting a sequel that could repeat that trick, but also move the series forward. 

Call it alchemy, or just really good story craft, but the machinery is still revved up and ready to go in this latest chapter of the Sonic universe. Picking up some time after the exile of Dr. Ivo Robotnik (Jim Carrey) to another universe, Sonic 2 sees the titular hero's nemesis obsessed with revenge and gaining ultimate power. Drafting another foe to his cause, the newly introduced Knuckle the Echidna (Idris Elba), Robotnik has a purpose and a powerful enforcer to help make it happen. 

The forces of good find themselves gaining another friend, as Miles “Tails” Prower (Colleen O'Shaughnessy) is finally teamed up with the best bud he’s been destined to pal around with, Sonic the Hedgehog (Ben Schwartz). Everyone involved has one thing on their mind, and it’s the plot device that powers Sonic the Hedgehog 2’s fast paced ride of adventure, The Master Emerald.

A nostalgic blast of fun, Sonic the Hedgehog 2 picks up right where the first movie left off, and doesn’t slow down.

The first Sonic the Hedgehog movie was a buddy road trip story between Ben Schwartz’s Sonic and Green Hills sheriff turned friend and ally Tom Wachowski (James Marsden). While it included easter eggs and lore from the Sega video game franchise, a more grounded approach in "our" reality dictated the events of the tale being told the first time out. It acted as a proper foundation for the Sonic brand in general, allowing Sonic the Hedgehog 2 to pick up the baton and construct a different narrative.

While a time gap is built in between the films, Sonic The Hedgehog 2 doesn’t waste any time getting into the action it’s set up to carry out. At the same time, returning writers Pat Casey and Josh Miller, alongside with series newcomer John Whittington, manage to work in enough knowledge from the first movie to help franchise newcomers stay on the same track as returning viewers. You don’t need to see Sonic the Hedgehog to climb aboard the sequel, but it certainly enriches the experience.

If anything, this second spin dash of excitement manages to position itself as a junction between the past and the future. Just as previous events come back into play with Sonic the Hedgehog 2, possibilities for the already in-development sequel and spin-off series find healthy roots in the current journey. Even more exciting is the fact that the movie doesn’t get too ambitious with setting up the future, as it remembers why its audience became invested in the first place.

Sonic the Hedgehog proves to be a solid touchstone for expansion, both in terms of lore and character development.

Good sequels at the very least need to remember what happened in the past. Sonic the Hedgehog 2 checks that box rather nicely, as the blue blur (or rather “Blue Justice”) finds himself wanting to become an even greater hero. Through the dangerous road he’s speeds down in service of continuing his story, we learn so much more about Sonic’s past by revisiting the events of that first movie. 

Much as the Bourne trilogy dovetailed previous events with current developments, we see plot points like the arrival of Tails at the end of Sonic 1 further fleshed out. Characters that originated in Sonic the Hedgehog also get expanded, particularly in the case of Maddie Wachowski (Tika Sumpter) and her sister Rachel (Natasha Rothwell). Splitting the human action from the animated animal antics does leave Sonic the Hedgehog 2 slightly more divided than the previous film’s plotting. 

However, it’s when those threads start to weave together that the real fun starts, leading to some action/comedy antics that see Maddie and Rachel banding together. The entire human cast of Sonic the Hedgehog 2 manages to get their own collection of moments that amp their characters up a little more. It is a sequel after all, and bigger and better is the traditional aim – even if the former can potentially get in the way of the latter. 

That isn’t a concern this time around, as the expanding lore enhances the story and the characters in it. The addition of fan favorites like Idris Elba's Knuckles, who plays a similar act to the fish out of water antics you saw from Chris Hemsworth's first Thor performance, really fits into the structure of the Sonic The Hedgehog franchise without feeling shoehorned in. But of course, it would be criminal not to mention that Colleen O'Shaughnessy, a veteran of the Sonic franchise for over a decade, brings Tails back to the movies with great style and warmth.

Sonic the Hedgehog 2 continues to develop the character and the heroic ideals of the series.

It cannot be stated enough that sequels can be scary, especially when they follow something like Sonic the Hedgehog, which burst onto the scene as a pleasant surprise. Usually, it’s easy to tell when a fledgling franchise is either cashing in on a fluke hit, or truly built on strong bones. Sonic the Hedgehog 2 lands on the better half of that equation, as the movie provides more comedic joy, clever pop culture references, and easter eggs that will have Sega kids grinning from ear to ear.

That could have been enough to justify the existence of Sonic the Hedgehog 2, but it’s not all that Paramount’s potential franchise has to offer. Continuing to develop Sonic and the characters he surrounds himself with, the heroic ideals and importance of friendship aren’t any less valuable after the introduction of more supporting characters and a larger quest. Expansion of a universe can be fun in thought, but truly executing that potential takes careful work.

What was once feared to be another in a long line of video game flops has now become a franchise in its own right. Sonic the Hedgehog 2 proceeds to raise the bar for anyone who wants to get into adapting digital delights, and the final result only teases the continued promise of a supersonic future. Sonic the Hedgehog was just the beginning, and anyone who had a fun time with the previous outing shouldn’t hesitate to press start on this new quest.

Mike Reyes
Mike Reyes

CinemaBlend's James Bond (expert). Also versed in Large Scale Aggressors, time travel, and Guillermo del Toro. He fights for The User.