'Sonic the Hedgehog' movie to be redesigned after online backlash to trailer

Fans were not happy about the video-game hedgehog's strange appearance

STH_01-01-27-04R – Ben Schwartz voices Sonic in SONIC THE HEDGEHOG from Paramount Pictures and Sega. Photo Credit: Courtesy Paramount Pictures and Sega of America.
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The director of Sonic the Hedgehog has taken to Twitter to reassure fans after the first trailer for the video-game adaptation attracted howls of criticism and derision following its release last week.

Fans were primarily critical of Sonic’s bizarre appearance, with spindly human legs and arms and weird realistic teeth that are the stuff of nightmares. However, Jeff Fowler has told fans that the character will be redesigned before the film’s scheduled November release.

“The message is loud and clear ... you aren't happy with the design and you want changes,” the director assured Sonic fans.

Fowler didn't give any indication of whether this would result in a delay of the movie's release date. However, director Rob Letterman, who recently adapted another decades-old video-game phenomenon for the big screen in the shape of Detective Pikachu, seemed to raise some doubts about the viability of Fowler's plans.

"It would be very difficult for us to redesign anything," he told The Verge. "We spent a year designing all the characters ahead of shooting so that we could get it all right. If we were off by an inch on Pikachu, [actor] Justice Smith's performance would go right out the window. For us, it would have been impossible – but that doesn't mean they can't do it. I wouldn't want to be in their shoes – they're in a difficult spot."

Judging by the trailer, the appearance of the titular blue hedgehog may not be Paramount’s only worry for this film. First of all, it’s unclear exactly who Paramount expects to go and see the movie. It’s clearly aimed at children, but how many children in 2019 even know who Sonic is? Sega hasn’t been a serious player in the console market since the 1990s.

The spiny speedster has maintained a group of hardcore of fans from his days at the pinnacle of the "console wars", but they’re limited in number, and now in their thirties and forties. They may demand a movie a little more challenging than the trailer suggests we’ll be getting.

Further to this, Jim Carrey appears to have reverted to his irritating worst for his role as Dr Robotnik. Historically, I couldn't stand Carrey's wacky on-screen antics, though later in his career I developed a grudging respect for him thanks to his roles in movies like The Truman Show and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind.

Here, however, he appears set to phone in a greatest hits of his "wackiest" roles from The Mask to Ace Ventura: Pet Detective, all while dressed up as Hercule Poirot and channelling the depth of villainous character of Dr Evil. Sonic's producers may manage to squeeze some CGI tweaks to the lead character by November, but will they have time to reshoot all of Carrey's scenes and make him less annoying too? Unlikely.

Back in his '90s heyday, Sonic and Sega were locked in a gruelling battle with Nintendo and their rival Mario Bros franchise. That game was turned into a movie back in 1993. Super Mario Bros holds a far-from-enviable 21 per cent rating on review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes, and is widely held to be the worst video-game movie in history (quite some achievement). Could Sonic beat it?

It looks like, a quarter of a century later, the “console wars” could be about to have a brief resurgence, though for a title that neither of the duellists really wants.