The Sonic Film Drama Thickens – Reasonable Assessment

The Sonic Film Drama Thickens – Reasonable Assessment

by May 3, 2019 4 comments

So that trailer, eh?

In regards to its actual content, I can’t really write anything here that you haven’t already seen/heard three hundred times from your Twitter timeline, classroom, or office (i.e. Sonic looks terrible, why does he have human teeth, lol it’s 90’s Jim Carrey)

To be honest, I’ve kinda had this movie pinned down from the start. Over a year ago, I published “I Am Terrified of The Sonic Movie” and pretty much nailed it. Unfortunately, nothing about the trailer surprised me. This is the part where I distastefully brag about how I was “right all along, you plebes.”

However, something happened today…

That’s coming from the film’s director, Jeff Fowler.

For the first time since this movie’s announcement, I’m actually not certain about what will happen. Fowler just opened a pandora’s box of new doubts and questions.

Design Changes

The movie is set to release in November. That’s not much time to re-animate the film’s titular character. If they maintain this date, we surely can’t expect that significant of a change, can we? If they just changed his teeth and nothing else, that alone is worthy of a delay.

I think it’s paramount *cough* that the studio push the date. Otherwise, I can’t see how it’d be enough time to make changes, or enough of a change to be worthwhile. And if I’m being practical, we shouldn’t expect a major design overhaul, even with a delay. Animation is not light work.

From the words of tweets and interviews, I get the vibe that Fowler cares deeply about our beloved hedgehog. But his actions show otherwise. If he couldn’t see how terrible this design is, I’m not sure his passion can be trusted with much confidence (maybe he is lacking enough creative clout to enforce that passion?). I mean, we aren’t talking about some deep-cut nitpick here. We are talking about the design of a 25 year old character whose appeal rests a great deal on the shoulders of said iconic design. If there’s anything a “Sonic fan” should have no trouble judging, it’s the design.

Shoot, social media is full of fan-made alternative designs right now. Fans are photoshopping stills from the trailer with their own version of “how Sonic should’ve looked.” It’s telling just how different one of these fan-made designs is from the other, and yet every one of them still looks better than what we got.  It’s not like this response is surprising, either. Fan artists were already editing Sonic’s movie appearance when design docs leaked months earlier.

A wonderful, fan-proposed improvement by illustrator Aimee Ueda. Unfortunately, I don’t think we’ll be getting a design change this significant. 

Which makes me think it’s worth noting how quick Fowler was to respond. And on his personal twitter, no less. No spokesperson or press statement, but a tweet. If that tweet is to be believed, that tweets costs millions of dollars. The tension must have been building prior to the trailer’s publication. Note the fact that he brings up Sega. The parent company and IP holder of Sonic has mostly remained silent about the movie until now. You can almost hear Sega’s angry concern behind Fowler’s words.

Paramount’s Role

This whole thing might seem like deja-vu to Paramount. The 2017 children’s comedy, Monster Trucks, had a test screening that was so bad, kids ran out of the theater screaming and crying. The design of the titular monster was so horrifying that the film was delayed multiples times in order to dial down the nightmare fuel in favor of a more cute and cartoony creature. The film unfortunately turned out to be a box office flop, making only $64.5 million against a $125 budget.

Paramount must be banking on the brand-recognition of Sonic. Perhaps the most tragic thing about Monster Trucks is the fact that it is one of the few recent Hollywood films with a distinctly new and unique idea, as opposed to another reboot, remake, or adaptation. The delay didn’t work out for Monster Trucks. Maybe that’s because Monster Trucks didn’t have 25 years worth of games, comics, and bed sheet sets on its side. Paramount is also likely to be well aware of the meme-factor. The “this looks terrible but I’m going day-one” factor that helped The Emoji Movie be a financial success despite being a critical disaster.

So from Paramount’s perspective, the design fix may be worth the price. The Sonic name will put people in theater seats, both ironically and unironically, so why not make it actually good in hopes that the numbers increase? Paramount is currently in a tough spot, so it’s certainly a risk.

It might just be a risk worth taking.



…And listen Paramount, I know you’re not reading this, but for crying out loud, giving Sonic a mono-eye or cartoony gloves isn’t going to break our immersion. We are watching a movie about a talking blue hedgehog that can break the sound barrier. We are quite capable of suspending our disbelief. Just give us the design we want and stop making up reasons why it wouldn’t work.


Reasonable Assessment is commentary series written by Noah Copeland, a somewhat interesting human. Noah makes music, games, and films, and stands at exactly average height. You can follow him on Twitter @NoahCopeland

4 Comments so far

  1. AllStarSonic
    #1 AllStarSonic 3 May, 2019, 08:46

    I feel like they knew this. Like it’s been like this since the teaser trailer and the leak. So maybe …HOPEFULLY they were already working on it before this outrage, but that’s just me being optimistic

    Reply this comment
  2. Shilz
    #2 Shilz 4 May, 2019, 07:07

    I’m getting annoyed by all the “fixes”. Basically all of them remove the shoes, change the arm color, and worst of all, unify the eyes.
    I don’t see much happening in terms of change, and if there is a lot of change, then it’s hopefully closer to what we’ve seen before, just with the new shoes and fur density.

    Reply this comment
    • Kenan
      Kenan 4 May, 2019, 11:40

      I’ve noticed that a lot of people seem to be bothered by the conjoined eye thing. What’s your reason may I ask.

      Reply this comment
  3. Sonick
    #3 Sonick 8 May, 2019, 15:02

    The thing with Sonic is he’s such an unrealistic character that most any attempts to make him look “realistic” will fail. Pair this with the fact that this is the same studio that did the Ninja Turtles reboot films and you have a recipe for disaster. I really hope that they’ll make him look closer to the blue blur we all know and love. I don’t expect them to do the mono-eye (even though I wouldn’t mind it), and even though I don’t foresee any heavy changes being made to the overall design there are quite a few smaller changes they can do to make the design more aesthetically pleasing. I just can’t believe they’re doing this now. If I was head of the film I would’ve released a pic of Sonic way before releasing the teaser and then altered it based on viewer feedback. Working on CGI is no small feat and even though the film doesn’t come out until November, they have a lot to do until then. Not to mention all of the merchandise and promotional material that will need to be altered to reflect the new design. It’s all a lot to think about and I wonder if Fowler was thinking about any of that when he posted the tweet. I guess now all we can do is sit back and see how this unfolds…

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