Tuesday, April 30, 2019


So it's Golden Week, which doesn't mean much unless you live in Japan or work in an industry influenced by Japanese business or entertainment. The span consists of multiple national holidays laid end-to-end, meaning if you live there you get a week (or more) of free time. If you live overseas and work in a Japanese industry, it means everything grinds to a halt.

Yesterday I found myself short on news to write about, and wished for something, anything, newsworthy to happen. One finger on the Monkey's Paw curled up, and we got the new Sonic the Hedgehog trailer.

Now, let me just say up front that I'm a big believer in waiting and seeing a movie before passing judgment. Because I've been wrong as hell about some movies before. I think we all have. Like Speed Racer. How the hell was Speed Racer good? It was, but how?

That aside, I am pretty willing—like, real willing—to take a bet that this is just gonna be Not Good. At the time of this writing, the trailer is 67% disliked by viewers. Not the 16 million dislikes and 85% hatred of last year's YouTube Rewind, but at 205k downvotes, it's not going well.

And today, because I hate everything, I'm going to go over with you, bit by bit, why I personally cannot stand this shit.

Here's the trailer in case you wanna subject yourself:

Right, so let's go. Uh. Fast.

First off, Green Hills. I'll give you that, I see what you did there. Also, not a surprising opening shot for a movie about a fast animal and a cop: catching Sonic on his radar. Then our cop protag finds one of Sonic's sparking quills, and...

I mean, there are seriously moments where I feel like this trailer wants us to believe. Look at that. That's cute. The rings. Again, I'll give them that. But then we cut to Sonic himself, as he puts on "Gangsta's Paradise." Why? Why? What does Sonic have to do with anything in that song? What does it have to do with going fast? I can only assume it's because it's a 90s throwback, just like a lot of other stuff in this trailer. Then, of course, we get the Legy Boy himself:

Sonic's character design has really been coming under fire and I can't think why. Personally, I don't give a damn about the fluffiness (though I am absolutely Team Fluffy Pok√©mon when it comes to the upcoming, less terrifying-looking Detective Pikachu). I don't care about separate vs. conjoined eyes. I don't care about "looking more like a real hedgehog." It's just... weird.

Former Sonic Team head Yuji Naka went on record as saying the design looks unbalanced, and SEGA is apparently less than please with how it's come out. I understand needing to change designs to work among real humans and settings, but... what is he? Like, what?

Sonic then goes on to cause a power surge that just straight-up knocks out everyone's electricity (killing 491 newborn babies in the process, if this Redditor is to be believed). The Men In Suits call in an expert to figure out what caused this power surge. Who is the expert? 2019 Jim Carrey, pretending he is 1994 Jim Carrey and wearing these handlebars:

Full disclosure: I don't like Jim Carrey. I don't like his anti-vax weirdness, I don't like that he was a jerk on the set of a movie and chalked it up to being possessed by the ghost of Andy Kaufman, I don't like how he acts like that guy at every party you've ever been to who's decided he's A Wit and is going to make sure he's got something to say in response to every syllable that comes out of your mouth.

That said, the fact that he is not what bugs me most about this trailer is really something. It is notable that he's turning in an Ace Ventura-era performance from what we see, just piling on the proofs that someone was trying to give the movie a 90s vibe without actually just setting it there. (All things considered I don't care that he doesn't enter Looking Like Robotnik: this is an origin story. You don't just start by looking like that.)

Honestly, his jape-to-human interpreter is the only being in this trailer I give a damn about. The actor's name is apparently Lee Majdoub. I hope he is having a nice day.

Then we get to a moment that I have so much to say about, despite its relative shortness. It's just. It encapsulates for me in what should be a very benign and even funny exchange what's making me cringe inside-out about the whole situation.

"Uh... MEOW?"

Where do I start. I mean, probably with the distressingly human teeth. That's nightmare fuel. Look at them. He looks like drunken taxidermy. He looks like something someone at an art show would try to sell as a warning statement against the dangers of capitalism. He looks like a cursed salaryman.

Then there's the way he delivers the gag. The "Oh no, I've been caught, I'm going to make the sound of something I'm obviously not while the person is looking right at me" is hard to mess up because it's inherently funny. So how did we end up with this? This weird too-cool-for-school Rude Dog rad-boy tone? Why was it even an option in the recording booth? What does this even mean?

I hate him. I hate this Sonic so much. He's being weird and smug about pretending to be a cat badly. I'm aware as I type this that I'm overreacting and that makes me hate him more because he's made me overreact about something so inconsequential. "Meow."

Then we get some more actions shots. We see that Dr. Robotnik basically wants to. I don't know. Study Sonic? Maybe kill him? Honestly he is a terrifying uncanny blue monster who took out a power grid with a foot race so I can't blame him.

Yes, yes, I get it.

Oh, hey, this. Now this has the potential to be cool. Remember that scene in Days of Future Past with the dude from American Horror Story as Quicksilver? That was rad. Yes, sweet, let's do something like that. Hit me.

... eh. Maybe it works better with "Time in a Bottle."

We then go on to a forgettable bit of buddy comedy humor where Sonic gets the human star to make it sound to two random women like he's kidnapped someone's kid and stuffed them in his duffel bag. Which is. A choice.

Then we close out on the one adaptation choice that looks even remotely successful:

Overall, it felt like they were desperate to double-fist a 90s sensibility and modern badassery. Not an impossible feat, but if the trailer is them showing us their best... I'm not encouraged.

In all fairness, I don't really have a dog in this fight. I was a Nintendo girl, and I like Sonic fine, but I have nothing to lose or gain based on how the movie does. Something tells me that 10 or 20 years from now we'll have a sort of weird fondness for it. Maybe CG will have advanced far enough that Sonic looks less terrifying and more doofy to our future eyes.

Hell, maybe this movie is just the right kind of self-aware and they just put out a sinfully bad trailer. I don't know. But I'm not confident, lads.

I've also realized why I tend not to do hate/takedown posts. I feel no better and I've changed nothing. But at least I've got you guys to suffer with.

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