Sonic the Hedgehog Blu-Ray review: a speedy recovery

When the big-screen foray of Sonic the Hedgehog was announced, most people weren’t happy. It wasn’t a matter of casting or anything like that, but rather the somewhat creepy human-esque design of Sonic himself. But rather than release it to the public and prepare for a lambasting, Paramount Pictures delayed the film and gave him a much more loyal makeover. And boy, did it pay off.

Sonic scored big box-office bucks before COVID-19 put a dash in his speedy hopes and dreams, but now he’s on home video for all to celebrate. And if you’re a fan of the fast little hedgehog, you’ll find that this film is definitely up to…speed? Okay, that may be enough puns.

A Decent Story, Backed By a Fun Jim Carrey

In the film, Sonic (voiced by Jean Ralphio himself, Ben Schwartz) comes to Earth, where he makes friends with a police officer (James Marsden) and begins a cross country journey to recover his helpful rings from San Francisco. Hot on their trail is the nefarious Dr. Robotnik (Jim Carrey), an evil scientist who wants to harness the power of Sonic’s quills for his very own.

The redesigned Sonic is ready for battle.

It’s a routine story, for the most part, and one built with family comedy in mind. But somehow, it works. That’s mainly due to the charm of the cast. Though he’s no Roger Craig Smith, Schwartz does a terrific job as Sonic, capturing his persona alongside the CG effects.

But this is Carrey’s show. He’s back to his manic self after a few oddball dramatic choices in his career, and he doesn’t disappoint. He plays Robotnik like the full-tilt diva that he is, right down to the bad jokes (“Rock-conaissance!”) and the awesome makeover he gets at the end. It sets everything in place for a potential sequel, which, honestly, I hope we get.

Would the film have worked the same way without the makeover? I’m actually scared to see if that would be the case. But the fact it ended up as it did – and still remains charming and fun – is a miracle. Paramount actually listened to the fans, and it shows in a movie that’ll breeze right by you in about 90 or so minutes. Oh, and you should stick around for the post-credits scene. You’ll love it.

A Strong Presentation, But Lacking Extras

We were sent the typical Blu-Ray/DVD set for the film along with a digital copy. So we couldn’t tell how the 4K transfer went on that disc. However, the Blu-Ray quality is nothing short of excellent. The visual effects shine on the screen; and there’s hardly a grain in sight when it comes to its exquisite transfer. This is definitely one you’ll want to keep an eye on. The audio is great too, particularly if you have a sound system that holds things up. It definitely gets up to that Sonic level.

As for extras, they’re somewhat lacking. What I wouldn’t give to hear Carrey go on for the whole movie as Robotnik, talking about how great he is in the film. Alas, there are some featurettes here, including one where he talks about his villainous character.

There’s also a fun “For the Love of Sonic” piece that talks about the speedy hero in great length. But, surprisingly enough, there’s nothing here about the process in redesigning him from his somewhat oddball original form. That would’ve been a fascinating piece of dive into.

Jim Carrey is terrific as Robotnik. Fight us.

The Deleted Scenes and Gag Reel are pretty fun, and there’s also a music video if you get into “Speed Me Up” for some reason. We didn’t.

A Rapidly Good Time

Sonic the Hedgehog may not be the best video-game-to-film adaptation out there, but it’s a surprisingly stable one, built on some good laughs, goofy moments (really, Olive Garden?!) and top-notch performances from Carrey and Schwartz, among others. If you’re looking for a good piece of summer entertainment, make sure you warp this one right into your library. It’s worth your precious rings.

RATING: 8/10

Sonic the Hedgehog finds his way home in a package filled with summertime fun.

The Wizard (1989) Shout! Factory Blu-Ray review: You’re a wizard, Freddy

Yes, we actually do review movies here on occasion at DVS Gaming, especially if they’re game-related ones. And they don’t really get more game-related than The Wizard, a 1989 film that serves as a big ol’ Nintendo advertisement while, at the same time, telling a fun story revolving around siblings.

How the (Nintendo) Story Begins

Poor Jimmy. A young kid that dreams about going to California, but finds himself in a mixed mental state following the passing of his twin sister. But his half-brother, Corey (played by The Wonder Years’ Fred Savage), opts to take him on the journey, breaking him out of the hospital and vowing to get him to the big Video Armageddon tournament, where, surprise, Super Mario Bros. 3 takes center stage.

Hey, guys, remember arcades?

Along the way, Haley (Jenny Lewis) joins the crusade, a young girl with troubles of their own. The three characters run into a series of misadventures over the course of their trip, including avoiding a troublesome “bounty hunter” who wants to bring them back. There’s also Jimmy’s father (Beau Bridges) and half-brother (Christian Slater — yes, Mr. Robot’s Christian Slater), who have a journey of their own to take into NES-land.

It’s a flawed road movie, and it spends a bit of time on messages and stuff like that. But it’s also enjoyable 80’s fluff, surrounded by a lot of Nintendo mentions. This includes the Power Glove (remember that?) and even the original Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles game. That swimming level still ticks us off…all the pizza in the world can’t save us.

Still, the actors are, ahem, game enough for the material. Savage is terrific here and has excellent chemistry with Lewis as they get to know each other better. And the comical moments are a treat, particularly with a call-out on a Universal Studios ride that’s long gone. And Bridges and Slater have their moments as well, as they attempt to connect what makes gaming special with their younglings. Sure, it’s a Nintendo advertisement for the most part, but an enjoyable one.

Proper Treatment For an Old-School Film

Shout! Factory deserves commendation for going the extra mile over the previous Blu-Ray release, which was bare-bones at best. The video quality of the film gets the best treatment, as it’s never looked better. Bright, beautiful colors and an excellent representation of classic games are the keys of the day here, and the 4K transfer really pays off on the proper screen. The sound quality is also wonderfully mixed, so if you have a great stereo system set-up, it’ll take full advantage — and there will be plenty of familiar NES sounds to go around as well.

Extras, Extras, Extras — Dig in!

Then come the extras. There’s a ton of them here that will take you back to the old school days. Director Todd Holland provides an insightful commentary that’s fun to listen to, and there are a ton of deleted scenes that add even more NES-style context to the film, even if they’re not a part of it. The extended ending is pretty cool as well.

There’s also a 40-minute documentary that looks back at the making of The Wizard, including interviews with Savage, Luke Edwards, the director and writer, and more. They provide a number of details that should be fascinating for fans of this sort of thing.

Heck, remember the NES days?!

Perhaps the real treat, however, is a video featurette where a Nintendo gameplay counselor is featured. Ever wonder what these guys worked with in the ’80s? Greg Lowder provides some good insight. The only downside is that it’s really, really short. But you’ll learn something.

For good measure, you’ll also see a clinical analysis of the film (if you want to dig deep); a post-screening Q & A from a recent Alamo Drafthouse screening; and a Let’s Play Gaming Expo from last year featuring the filmmakers talking about the movie. Throw in a theatrical trailer and a photo gallery and you’ve got a well-wrapped package. Only downside? Jenny Lewis didn’t participate. Maybe she was busy gaming…

Game On Back To the 80s

The Wizard isn’t the best gaming movie out there, but it makes for fluffy summer fun when we need it the most. And you can get this special edition for $20 or so, which is well worth the investment. The improved video and audio quality are noteworthy, and the extras are abundant. If it’s a blast from the past you need — or you just need to hear Fred Savage talk about the Power Glove again — this is a must for your collection.

RATING: 8/10

The Wizard shines on with a wonderful collector’s edition provided by Shout! Factory.

Is it Spooky? Hereditary Movie Review

Winner of 2018 Sundance Film Festival

Let’s start this out by saying, horror movies aren’t what they used to be. Less based around story, and more-so based around jump scares with plenty of gore scenes. Very rarely will you come into contact with a movie that’s under 20 years old, that holds a story in any kind of sentiment. Don’t get me wrong a horror movie is a horror movie no matter how thick the B rating may be. Just some of them are ‘HARD’ to watch.

Then we have Hereditary.

Hereditary was…. Interesting. The story was one not told a hundred times over, and was actually one of the more interesting points of the film. Witches and Warlocks, it’s always witches and warlocks when children are involved, isnt it? A quiet beginning to the film, introduces us to a passing grandmother. All her family and friends surrounding her casket as her daughter started the eulogy. Very soft undertones filled these scenes, matching necklaces amongst all the women and cuffs for the men. Hereditary progresses on, past the funeral and into the rememberance of the grandmother.

Grandma with her boob out?

The immediate family of the Grandmother who passed away, start experiencing strange things in their home. At first it’s something simple, like noticing etched writing into a wall that has been there for sometime, or a pattern that was cut into the floor hidden by the carpeting. Strange things keep appearing, when your finishing up work in the office and go to leave. Do you ever get that feeling, that if you looked over after you’ve turned the light out, that you’d see a ghost? Imagine looking over, and seeing your dead mother standing next to a box of mementos you had just gone through. Would you jump? Would you run? This woman started to break down. Hiding all truth and pain away from her family. Hiding the truth.

An uncomfortable dinner

The Golden Curse

More and more, the symbol that all the women wore as necklaces and men wore as cuffs started appearing in the scenes more prominently. Sometimes it would just be off to the side on a tree, other times it would be in your face waiting for you to finally realize that it’s here. As the movie progresses, we start to enjoy the basics of the film. We’ve got a teenage boy who fancies a pretty girl, a child who just wants to stay at home and play with her toys. As per the film, we have the brother sister team stuck together as the teenager wants to go to a party, as all moms do she made sure he was going to be miserable by making him take his little sister. During this party, Charlie our little sister, eats a cake full of nuts. As it was briefly mentioned in the beginning of the film, she is allergic to nuts.

The race against time

Panic. Panic erupts into the scene as the older brother is stricken with fear of losing his little sister to the allergic reaction she was having. Quickly they raced off to the hospital like any good brother would do. But alas, this isn’t a Disney film. THOMP. The hollow empty sound of Charlies head hitting a Hydro pole. Silence. Silence as the teenage boy lays in bed, drenched in his fear and sadness. Until, you hear the mother scream as she discovers her childs headless body in the back seat of her car. Pain. Pain drips from the next set of scenes bouncing between the mother and the guilt stricken son. Now… Now comes the Golden Curse, as the days move on the pain gets unbearable between the family. The mother reaches out in a series of seances to contact her daughter at least one last time.

King Paimon

Remember we mentioned those women and men who were wearing all the same symbols? Well… Here we are, the mother is attempting to deal with her sadness by going to counseling for the deaths of her mother and her child. These women making their mark against the mother, trying to seduce her into falling for their curse of riches. More and more the family is stressed out, and one by one they’ve all started to lose their minds. The witches confer with the mother and trick her into letting ”the darkness” into her home. They use to teach her how to start the ritual for the Curse of Paimon, little does the mother know she was setting not only herself, but what remained of her family, for death. These sweet old women, who lent out a hand to the mother during her time of need are also her demise. As the spirits tormented the family inside the house, the group of witches and warlocks prepared their ritual in the place that was closest to Charlie. Her tree-house.

Death of a Family

Step by step as the mother falls into madness, dragging her family into this downward spiral. After the seance with the old ladies, she starts conducting her own at home, which not only brings Charlie into the house but the full circle of Paimon also enters. As the mother begs out for Charlie, bringing in everything that is attached with her secret ridden family. Faster and faster this family plummets into madness, experiencing the truth of their family first hand. The boxes of grandmothers things become even more so important to the family as it would explain everything going on in their lives. The Curse of Paimon, a curse coveting the male body for the riches that could be bestowed upon it. As the family panics and fights for what is left of their lives, the curse digs deeper. More and more people showing up to the house, assembling the strangest of sights. Waiting for each of them to kill themselves, so that the Curse of Paimon can take over.

In the end, the Curse of Paimon wins. Thus starting a generation of greed and riches for the Witches and Warlocks that were left to adopt the new form of Paimon.

Mommy Dearest Vibes

My personal score for this film? B. It has a decent enough story, that hasn’t been repeated a thousand times over. Yet the speed and consistency of the film lacked in certain areas. As much as they had suspense living up to their name, closer to the end of the film it turned into jump scares. When they could have continued as a suspensful film, they changed it up. Unfortunately story is the only thing truly interesting about this film, more parts of the film had been funny or in fact hilarious compared to its ‘horror’ counterparts. If you’re bored and need a movie to watch, this one should go on your list.

DVS Gaming Movie Review Score :
B

DVS Movie Review: Sonic the Hedgehog

The Sonic the Hedgehog film manages to avoid the pitfalls of failed video game movies by sticking to the source material.

Video game adaptations of movies are a mixed bag; you generally expect it to closely follow the source material. There have been successful video game movies such as Tomb Raider and Detective Pikachu and flops such as Assassin’s Creed and Super Mario Bros. The Super Mario Bros. adaptation was so bad, Bob Hoskins (who played Mario) said that it was not only the worst job he’s ever done but also called it his biggest disappointment and something that he would edit out of his past in a 2007 interview. Knowing the track record of video game films, would Sonic the Hedgehog suffer the same fate as their Nintendo-based plumber rivals?

Most classic Sonic the Hedgehog media is memorable; could the live-action film create new memories?

I enjoyed watching Adventures of Sonic the Hedgehog as a kid; the TV show cast Jaleel White as the voice of Sonic (he would also voice Steve Urkel in the successful African-American sitcom Family Matters) and also played Sonic games fervently in my childhood. I even was Sonic for Halloween, so this was sort of a homecoming for me after Sega significantly chucked the franchise down the toilet in the new millennium. After the fall of Sega as a console developer, the company relegated him to terrible video games on the Nintendo Gamecube, Xbox, and Xbox 360, as well as token appearances on other Nintendo consoles.

Sonic the Hedgehog

Thankfully, Paramount Pictures had bought the film rights to the franchise in 2017 and a cast of James Marsden, Ben Schwartz, and 90s comedy superstar Jim Carrey had joined the cast by 2018. The film was scheduled for a November 2019 release, but fans were upset about the Sonic design. The producers listened, and they pushed the film back to a February 14, 2020 release.

Jim Carrey turns in one of his finest performances in years.

The film avoided a major pitfall by sticking to its source material. The trailer prominently featured the Green Hill Zone from the original Sonic the Hedgehog game. While Tom Wachowski (James Marden) provides straight-man relief for Sonic’s (Ben Schwartz) 500-miles-a-minute speech patterns, the real star of the movie was Dr. Ivo Robotnik (Jim Carrey). The United States government begrudgingly employs Dr. Robotnik to investigate Sonic’s appearance, which sets off the events of the film.

Sonic the Hedgehog Dr. Robotnik

His performance during the movie reminded me a lot of the Jim Carrey of old, who made audiences double over in movies such as Ace Ventura and Liar Liar, harkening back to his roots in physical and slapstick comedy and doing what he does best: playing over-the-top, exaggerated characters. I would go as far as to say that Carrey enhanced the role of Dr. Robotnik, who portrayed a cartoon villain in the Adventures of Sonic the Hedgehog series. Carrey used his experience as someone who portrayed those over-the-top and exaggerated characters and seamlessly placed it into the Dr. Robotnik character like he never missed a beat.

Although Sonic made way too many pop culture references during the film, his performance brings together the Sonic fans of old (such as myself) and younger audiences who may have never heard of him or heard about him from their parents. The film rides the wave of 90s nostalgia and revivals that have been a part of Hollywood for the past five or so years and surfs it almost perfectly from start to finish. The synchronization of the live-action and cartoon elements of the film cannot be ignored either. We hope this kicks off a long string of live-action Sonic movies, as this may be the blueprint that video game movies need to succeed.

Grade: A