The nice thing about a sequel to 2020’s Sonic the Hedgehog is that you pretty much know exactly what to expect. And Sonic the Hedgehog 2 stays the predetermined sequel course, expanding the franchise’s universe and setting up movies to come.
The first film was all about a speedy alien hedgehog named Sonic (voiced by Ben Schwartz) finding friends in the live action world, namely Tom (James Marsden) and Maddie (Tika Sumpter). By the end of the film, evil scientist Dr. Ivo Robotic (Jim Carrey) had been banished to a faraway planet and Sonic, Tom, and Maddie looked like one big happy family.
In the second one, Sonic predictably expands past his small hometown. The beginning sees him separate from Tom and Maddie as they go to Maddie’s sister’s wedding in Hawaii. Soon, he’s joined by timid inventor Tails (voiced by Colleen O’Shaughnessey), just in time to take on an even kookier Dr. Robotic and a strong but dumb as rocks Knuckles (voiced by Idris Elba) as they all fight to claim an all-powerful emerald. Introducing more classic video game characters and providing more backstory and lore for Sonic delivers on a sequel’s promise to be bigger and opens the door for later franchise films.
Besides expanding the Hedgehog Cinematic Universe, the film, like its predecessor, relies on lots of jokes and pop culture references to carry us through. There’s nothing particular smart or witty happening, but it’s pretty much at the level you expect for a kids movie. While the roles of live action stars are mostly sized-down, Maddie’s sister Rachel (Natasha Rothwell) deservingly gets more to do and plenty of physical comedy. Because if you had Rothwell in your movie, it’s a shame to not use her. That’s like having Channing Tatum in a film and not letting him dance! There are attempts to inject some emotional scenes in between the jokes and action sequences, but the dialogue feels bland and overdone. No one comes to see a Sonic film for family dynamics drama.
Still, Sonic the Hedgehog 2 manages to check off every item on its sequel to-do list. It dutifully expands the universe, introduces new characters, and keeps the momentum going for future films. It’s not trying to break any molds and sticks to its PG rating in being an enjoyable watch for kids and a passable time at the movie theater for their parents.