A few weeks ago, the trailer for the live-action Sonic the Hedgehog film was released to fairly negative reception. Beyond the cringeworthy script and the strange use of “Gangster’s Paradise” as theme music, one of the main complaints was Sonic’s design.
Rather than use the games’ designs, he had oddly human-like proportions that, for many, looked creepy. Not too long after the trailer released, director Jeff Fowler promised they would alter Sonic’s look for the finished film. Now, the film has been pushed back three months to February 2020 to ensure the changes can be made properly.
Thank you for the support. And the criticism. The message is loud and clear… you aren’t happy with the design & you want changes. It’s going to happen. Everyone at Paramount & Sega are fully committed to making this character the BEST he can be… #sonicmovie #gottafixfast 🔧✌️
— Jeff Fowler (@fowltown) May 2, 2019
The controversy started before we even had a good look at the character with the initial teaser poster. Despite just being a silhouette (suggesting the creators didn’t have much faith in the design even back then), audiences were weirded out by his oddly muscular legs. Once we got a better look at him, his spaced-out eyes, weird hands and creepily human-like teeth made him fall right into the uncanny valley. At least Jim Carrey as Dr. Robotnik seems fun.
However, whilst the design was certainly a problem, fixing it at this late stage would be a huge task. Without a delay, there just wouldn’t be any way to change so much of the movie without subjecting animators and effects artists to the kind of crushing work conditions that have gained scrutiny in the video game industry. The Sonic video game franchise itself is no stranger to crunch, with some titles, like Sonic Boom, being developed under those conditions.
As such, it is good to hear that they are going to take the time to polish up the Sonic the Hedgehog film as much as possible. Considering this is the title character, a huge amount of the movie would need to be altered or reshot. Films like Justice League (2017) demonstrate the dangers of re-tooling a movie partway through development without delaying it. Admittedly, pushing the film back to February probably won’t fix the script or lame jokes. At least, however, Sonic will look more like the games, and less like he does in the trailer.