After the official trailer for the Sonic the Hedgehog film received stinging criticism for the blue speedster's appearance, the movie's release date was pushed back to accommodate a radical redesign of the character. Now, images have surfaced on the internet showcasing a much better-looking Sonic.
While the photos still haven't been confirmed to be official by Paramount Pictures, they give fans a glimmer of hope that the first live-action adaption of Sega's favorite son might be better than initially expected. It doesn't matter, though, as Sonic has already won the race before he even sprinted.
Video game adaptations aren't renowned for being good -- partially because director Uwe Boll massacred many franchises over the years. These movies hardly ever capture the tone, emotion or complexity of the games. They masquerade as fan service when they're blatant cash-grabs for studios.
The most obvious example is 1993's Super Mario Bros., starring the late Bob Hoskins as Mario and John Leguizamo as Luigi. A dark fantasy that drew elements from Ghostbusters, it was meant to be an original take on the legendary game where the popular plumbers flatten Goombas in the Mushroom Kingdom.
On paper it sounded exciting. In reality, it flopped with critics and fans -- and at the box office. Even Hoskins admitted that Super Mario Bros. was the biggest regret in his highly-lauded career.
Yet, despite the negative sentiment towards the film, nothing changed for the Mario video games. Each new installment flew off the shelves and the mustached Nintendo icon continued to be the most recognized face in gaming. Then, a funny thing happened with the film a few years later: It became a cult classic in the it's-so-bad-that-it's-good category.
Super Mario Bros.'s legacy isn't unique by any means, as 1994's Street Fighter followed a similar path. Derided by fans and critics alike, the film didn't exactly wow anyone upon release. It turned a profit, however, and did absolutely no damage to the franchise's credibility in the long run. Today Street Fighter is considered a campy cult classic, with the late Raúl Juliá's performance as M. Bison regarded as the film's high point.
Sonic the Hedgehog sits in a similar boat. Judging by the trailer, it's unlikely to be an Oscar contender in the near future. Maybe it'll be oodles of fun or perhaps Jim Carrey's Dr. Robotnik will be its only saving grace. None of us have traveled to the future and watched the film yet, so it's merely speculation right now.
What is certain, though, is that Sonic's legacy won't be impacted by the film's reception. If it's good, it'll be another thumbs-up for the blue hedgehog. If it isn't, he'll spin away, unfazed by the reactions.
Much like with superheroes, a popular gaming franchise sells itself to ardent fans. The difference is the expectation isn't the same when it comes to the movies. Most people are walking into Sonic the Hedgehog and expecting it to be bad.
Look at Doom: Annihilation as a recent example. While 2016's Doom sold over two million copies on PC in a year, there was no fuss made about the recent live-action adaptation. The trailer debuted and the general consensus was that it looked like trash. The movie eventually released and there's hardly been a peep about it. If it was a comic book movie, though…
Ultimately, the studio takes all the risk with Sonic the Hedgehog. Paramount Pictures wants its return on investment here. For everyone else, Sonic will prevail, whether the film is great and even if it's rotten.
Director Jeff Fowler's Sonic the Hedgehog stars Ben Schwartz as Sonic and Jim Carrey as Dr. Robotnik, with James Marsden, Neal McDonald, Tika Sumpter, Adam Pally and Natasha Rothwell. It releases on February 14, 2020.