Culture News

Celebrate 30 Years of Sonic the Hedgehog (with Deeply Disturbing Fan Art)

After 30 years in video games, television, and film, Sonic the Hedgehog's most enduring legacy is in the world of creepy fan art.

On June 23rd, 1991, Sega released Sonic the Hedgehog, a fast-paced side-scrolling platformer for the Sega Genesis console, and the character took the world by storm.

Sonic has since spawned dozens of games, five different animated series, with a sixth in the work for Netflix, and, of course, the 2020 live-action movie starring Ben Schwartz, James Marsden, and Jim Carrey, with a sequel set for 2022.

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FILM

The New "Sonic the Hedgehog" Trailer Is Actually Fire

They fixed it. They actually fixed it.

Sega/ Paramount Pictures

After the Internet at large rightly condemned the original Sonic the Hedgehog movie design as an utter abomination, the animators went back to the drawing board.

Now they've returned with a whole new trailer and...damn, Sonic's actually looking fresh.

Sonic The Hedgehog (2020) - New Official Trailer - Paramount Pictures www.youtube.com

It's hard to overemphasize how much better the new Sonic design looks compared to the previous one. For those of you who forcibly removed the original trailer from your mind, perhaps through intentional brain injury, here's a side-by-side comparison.

Sonic movie before and after New (left) and old (right)Sega/ Paramount Pictures

The new design actually resembles the Sonic we've always known and loved, with his big cartoon eyes and lack of over-sized nightmare human teeth. The old one is an actual war crime.

But Sonic's updated design isn't the only spot where the new trailer shines. From the opening shot set in the immediately recognizable Green Hill Zone (the first level of the original Sonic the Hedgehog for Sega Genesis) to the clip of Sonic dashing along the Great Wall of China, the new trailer makes a convincing argument for how fun Sonic could be in the real world.

With the exception of Jim Carrey as Dr. Robotnik, the original Sonic trailer failed on every conceivable front. As a lifelong Sonic fan, I was dreading the movie's inevitable release which, I was sure, would completely bastardize a character I grew up with. I'm happy to say that my opinion has done a total 180. The new trailer made me feel hopeful in the same way I felt when I watched the first trailer for Detective Pikachu (I ultimately thought the movie was just okay, but the real-life Pokemon designs were fantastic), and it's great to see Ben Schwartz's excellent Sonic voice acting come through, too.

I can't believe I'm saying this, but I'm really looking forward to the live-action Sonic the Hedgehog movie.

FILM

Why Sonic the Hedgehog's Movie Design is Genuinely Amazing

What if Sonic looks horrifying on purpose?

What if we've been looking at this whole “Sonic the Hedgehog has teeth and human legs" debacle the wrong way?

sonic the hedgehog teeth

From lackluster games to lackluster spin-offs, from Knuckles' weirdly broad shoulders in Sonic Boom to everything else about Sonic Boom, Sonic fans have been shafted since at least the mid-2000s. So it's inevitable that, upon seeing Sonic's grotesque new design in the upcoming live-action movie, everyone would write it off as yet another stab into the bloated carcass of a once great franchise. After all, why the hell would they make Sonic so hideous? The design flaws seem extra strange considering how well they nailed the design of Sonic's arch-nemesis, Dr. Eggman.

Except, maybe it's not so baffling after all. Yes, it's true, if Sonic the Hedgehog is the protagonist of this movie and, somehow, a full team of concept artists and graphic designers and SEGA executives approved his design, then it would stand to reason that there is a legitimate conspiracy to kill the franchise for good. But what if this isn't just another terrible video game movie nobody asked for or wanted? What if this is a deconstruction of terrible video game movies?

dr eggman jim carrey

As far as video game villains go, Dr. Eggman has never been particularly deep. He's simply a rotund, middle-aged megalomaniac who's partial to robotics and hell-bent on world domination. Put simply, he's a big douchebag. That's always been Dr. Eggman's motivation.

But the Sonic the Hedgehog trailer paints a different picture. In the first scene with Dr. Eggman, played like an asshole Ace Ventura by Jim Carrey, he looks exceedingly normal. Aside from his goofy mustache, this Dr. Eggman isn't the fat, red-suited lunatic from the video games––at least not until the final shot of the trailer. Here, Dr. Eggman is a dead-ringer for his in-game counterpart. This suggests that during the course of the movie, the initial Dr. Eggman we meet will grow into the character we've always known. What if this isn't Sonic's story at all––what if it's Dr. Eggman's?

dr eggman live action

Through Dr. Eggman's lens, Sonic's horrendous design makes perfect sense. Dr. Eggman isn't a big douchebag trying to exterminate some dumb, blue hedgehog for no reason. He's a top government scientist attempting to capture a fascinating creature with the potential to change the course of science. Consider this version of Sonic as some sort of animal abomination that managed to grow human teeth: how does its DNA relate to the human genome? Does this creature have the potential to grow other human body parts? Could there be an alternative to stem cell research? These are all questions that Dr. Eggman would have certainly considered and, as a top scientist, he clearly realizes that capturing this monster is the best option for the betterment of humanity. (As a side note, the monster is clearly disgusting and a menace to society, so removing it from the public benefits humanity in myriad ways.)

If Dr. Eggman is the protagonist, a human genius at the height of his career who's attempting to revolutionize science and robotics, it makes sense that his antagonist would be a godless blue monster. And if that's the case, Dr. Eggman's motivations––and his fall into obesity––would be all the more compelling.

Hold out hope for the new Sonic the Hedgehog movie. While it certainly looks terrible in every capacity so far, it just might prove to be the greatest video game movie of all time.


Dan Kahan is a writer & screenwriter from Brooklyn, usually rocking a man bun. Find more at dankahanwriter.com


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Film Lists

5 Beloved Franchises That Hollywood Can Legally Ruin

Find out if your favorite childhood memory is going to be destroyed.

Hollywood options everything nowadays — meaning they buy the rights, or "option," to turn an existing property into a movie or show.

Your favorite book? Optioned. Your favorite comic? Optioned. Your favorite movie that was already a freaking movie in the first place so why would they possibly need to make it again? Oh yeah, that's optioned. That's optioned so hard.

But some things shouldn't be optioned. Not every beloved childhood book is meant to be a blockbuster. Not every cartoon character is intended to be "brought to life" by some generic hunk with too much hair gel. Some things need to be left alone. Because sometimes you know way before a movie or show gets made that it's going to be really, really bad.

The Phantom Tollbooth

the phantom tollbooth book cover Now starring that stupid bug-eyed squirrel.

If you loved The Phantom Tollbooth novel, an adventure story rife with deep underlying themes about education, the pursuit of knowledge, and sensible governance, you might be happy to know that it's receiving a "live-action/hybrid" film adaptation directed by the same guy who did Ice Age: The Meltdown. While The Phantom Tollbooth could potentially work as a feature in the right hands, current Hollywood trends, including A Wrinkle In Time and Alice in Wonderland, seem to equate deep children's classics with lifeless, live-action CGI-fests. But if the book's concept of a young boy combatting ennui through abstract thought sounds less attractive than what will probably be twenty minutes of the big guard dog unsuccessfully trying to pick up a tiny bone, this adaptation might be right up your alley.

Danny and the Dinosaur

danny and the dinosaur book Danny was an OG.

Danny and the Dinosaur is a delightful children's book about a boy named Danny who goes to a museum, meets a dinosaur who comes to life, and the two play together for a bit. There is no narrative thrust to Danny and the Dinosaur other than the dinosaur randomly being alive and Danny going to a park with it. It's the most simplistic form of childhood wish fulfillment, hinging entirely on relating to six-year-olds who agree that "hanging out with a dinosaur would be cool." That is not a movie, and certainly not "a vehicle for top comedy talent." What story could they possibly add to Danny and the Dinosaur? Maybe the Dinosaur gets hungry and can't control his need for human meat. Now it's up to Danny to stop the Dinosaur, lest all his friends and family become extinct. That's actually pretty good, and if anyone is interested in buying that idea, it's mine so please contact me.

Naruto

naruto and sasuke Just two white boys being clearly white together.

Let's say this right off the bat: anime should not be adapted into live-action Hollywood fare. First, a large portion of anime's appeal derives from the animation styles, so that's an automatic knock against live-action. But more importantly, anime stories are Japanese in origin. They run on Japanese sensibilities and star Japanese characters. If Hollywood were aiming to truly adapt these works into accurate live-action representations, fine, go for it. But every prior Hollywood anime adaptation — from Ghost in the Shell to Netflix's Death Note to the horrendous Dragon Ball: Evolution — has been whitewashed to hell and Americanized to the point of being unrecognizable. So brace yourself for American Naruto, the story of a young white ninja named Naruto who hails from the Hidden Potato Village located somewhere in Idaho. As a student in the American art of ninjutsu, Naruto and his fellow white ninja trainees––his crush, Sarah, and his rival, Steven––must defeat Zachary, an evil sword-wielding ninja who is also white and hails from the Village Hidden in the Corn. Will they be able to recover the secret hamburger scroll in time to save the Country Music Jamboree, or will Zachary emerge as the true heir to the Harley Davidson technique? Find out in American Naruto.

Cowboy Bebop

cowboy bebop It's so good, go watch it now.

Cowboy Bebop is different from a lot of other anime in that a Hollywood live-action series could potentially work in this case. For one, the animation style is more adult, originally intended for a mature audience. As such, the jump to live-action isn't as jarring as it would be for a more cartoony series. Moreover, many of the characters and plot lines are influenced by Western tropes and genres, specifically "Spaghetti Westerns" like The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly, and sci-fi fare like Alien. The real problem here is that the original Cowboy Bebop is a bona fide masterpiece, so pulling off an adequate adaptation would require top-tier writing, directing, acting, fight choreography, etc. Anything less will fall apart completely. Cowboy Bebop has one of the strongest, albeit subtlest emotional thrusts of any anime series to-date, and if their handling of Death Note offers any indication, Netflix probably isn't up to the task.

Sonic the Hedgehog

sonic the hedgehog movie Just look at this guy. This is official. I'm not joking.

"What if Sonic the Hedgehog was a f*cking monstrosity?" This is the only sentiment that could justify the upcoming live-action Sonic the Hedgehog movie. And unfortunately, no matter how much we wish and hope and pray it wasn't true, it is –– this one's definitely happening. But don't worry, the "Brand Personality" slide accidentally leaked by the movie's graphic design firm assures us that even if live-action Sonic looks like something that wants to grope you, he's really just "chill and likable" and "mischievous but not malicious." Welcome to douchey frat-bro Sonic with his dead eyes and abnormally jacked legs. Delight, as he breaks into your room at night, slips into your bed, and then assures you it was "just a prank." This movie is going to be an absolute dumpster fire. Also, Jim Carrey will be playing Dr. Robotnik. Please end this.


Dan Kahan is a writer & screenwriter from Brooklyn, usually rocking a man bun. Find more at dankahanwriter.com



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