Video game movies get a bad rap, and deservedly so.
And no, I’m not talking about “Wreck It Ralph” or the anime films based on “Pokemon” that have been airing for years.
I’m talking live-action adaptions of famous video game franchises that are almost always cheap, poor-quality cash-ins on characters and worlds gamers know and love.
For decades, Hollywood has tried and failed to faithfully convert a video game into film, from “Doom” to “Mortal Kombat” to “Tomb Raider” to “Resident Evil.” “Detective Pikachu,” which releases May 10, might actually be the first good live-action movie based on a game, preceded by literal decades of trash.
Paramount Pictures apparently wanted to keep this trend going with its “Sonic the Hedgehog” trailer that released last week.
I have never seen the internet masses so unified on one opinion when that trailer dropped. Everyone universally agreed the design of Sonic wasn’t only unfaithful to the video games but a travesty unto God Himself. After the overwhelming backlash, Paramount announced it will actually redesign the character before the movie’s November release, a move most likely unprecedented.
For whatever reason, the Sonic in the trailer looks more like a man cosplaying as Sonic than the actual character. His eyes are too small and too far apart, his head is too small, his body is too big, his legs are too thick, his hands are too small and he’s not wearing gloves. Most heinous of all, he has these gnarly, creepy human teeth.
The design was so bad that fans actually edited it to appear more like the characte. It’s astounding to me that one random video game developer with Adobe Photoshop can create a more authentic Sonic design than a team of professional animators with hundreds of programs and millions of dollars with which to work.
Then again, there’s probably a “reasonable” explanation for Paramount’s, shall we say, artistic liberties. Sonic was probably animated by motion-capturing an adult human, and it’s much easier to simply throw a computer-generated Sonic skin over the actor than it is to tweak Sonic’s proportions to be accurate to the games. But really, when you have decades of references and a team of professionals and funding at your back, there’s no excuse to take shortcuts.
I’m not a Sonic fan. Most Sonic-related video games and other media have, in my opinion, been trash since the ‘90s. But if you’re going to make a film for the fans, do it right the first time. After years of subpar video game-based films, it’s time to buck the trend and make something worthwhile.
Paramount has until November to redesign Sonic, which I’m sure is no easy task—unless, of course, Sonic’s design is secretly actually fine and Paramount released a trailer with a poor Sonic design to drum up free marketing. Either way, I’m happy what fans will see on screen won’t be the travesty we witnessed last week.
Who knows? Maybe “Sonic the Hedgehog” could join the ranks of good video game movies with “Detective Pikachu.”