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“Why?” and Four Other Pressing Questions About the ‘Sonic the Hedgehog’ Trailer

As we walk through the valley of the shadow of death, we take a look at Sonic, and realize there’s nothing left

Paramount Pictures/Ringer illustration

“Hedgehogs are interesting though, aren’t they?” Larry King asked Ben Schwartz on his show last August. Some context: Jean-Ralphio himself has been tasked with voicing Sonic the Hedgehog in Paramount’s forthcoming live-action film based on the famous Sega character—and neither this inspired casting choice nor Larry King expressing a sincere interest in hedgehogs is one of the top 20 weirdest things about Sonic the Hedgehog.

Not to pit anthropomorphic creatures heading CGI-laden blockbusters against one another, but while the surprisingly great promotional run for Pokémon Detective Pikachu elicits genuinely stirring emotion—give or take a few quibbles about whether Pokémon should be fuzzy like a cat or smooth and hairless—the buzz around Sonic has often given way to unfettered chaos. There was the character poster in December that revealed the blue hedgehog’s uncomfortably muscular legs. There was Jim Carrey—who plays the evil Dr. Robotnik—assuring viewers that Sonic will have “edgy moments,” as if people are clamoring for the Sonic movie to lean into crass behavior as much as they want Justice Smith to say “Forget it, Pikachu. It’s Chinatown.” Long before we saw any footage, there were plenty of concerns about the Sonic film.

Well, now the wait for our first real footage is over, and while this hedgehog is certainly as interesting as King foretold, he might also be a harbinger of death whose visage will melt your face away like you’re peering inside the Ark of the Covenant. Don’t believe me? Let’s dive through the five most pressing questions from Tuesday’s Sonic the Hedgehog trailer—including a couple of choice looks at our disturbing blue protagonist. You can’t say I didn’t warn you.

Why Does Sonic Look Like This?

I’ve often thought about this line that Sam Neill drops in one of my favorite space-horror movies, Event Horizon: “Where we’re going, we won’t need eyes to see.” It’s a horrifying notion that makes you wonder what awaits in the bowels of hell for the unsuspecting characters aboard this ill-fated ship. Now I think I know what awaits: Sonic the Hedgehog. This is the last chance you have to avert your eyes. Behold, your live-action Sonic the Hedgehog:

Screenshots via Paramount Pictures

What is going on here? Who approved this? Why does he have human teeth? These are the first of many thoughts that might spring into your head—or you might have the same reaction as Sonic: mouth agape, wondering where it all went wrong.

Obviously, I’m probably being a bit too harsh on Paramount—a character textured with this much CGI needs a lot of work, and this iteration of Sonic probably isn’t the finished product. There’s a lot of time between now and the movie’s release in November to patch up his look. (This would also explain why we actually get very little Sonic screen time in the trailer relative to James Marsden and Jim Carrey, who we’ll address in a bit.) But still: This is not a good look, or even an adequate one. I don’t think anyone expected a more terrifying blue CGI entity to appear this year after Will Smith poofed out of a genie bottle in the live-action Aladdin trailer, but consider the first Sonic the Hedgehog footage one hell of a rebuttal. Sorry, Captain America: This is America’s ass now:

What Is Jim Carrey Doing—and Is It Brilliant?

There is plenty of Carrey’s Dr. Robotnik in the first trailer, though it’s not exactly explained what he’s up to. Sonic runs super fast and inadvertently (or intentionally?) destroys the West Coast’s power grid, and a bunch of generic American generals are resigned to the fact they need the help of Robotnik to stop this threat to, I guess, national security? He appears to be an expert at cool tech with an insatiable desire to kill Sonic—and his dialogue is straight out of an Austin Powers movie.

My dude is constantly interrupting people and making weird verbal and facial tics; Robotnik is, in other words, the perfect character to be played by Jim Carrey. Even if the rest of Sonic the Hedgehog is a catastrophic failure, Carrey’s performance already feels like it has the potential to move this movie toward so-bad-it’s-good cult status—much in the same way Keira Knightley’s bonkers turn in The Nutcracker and the Four Realms last year saved Disney’s CGI spectacle from complete anonymity.

Also not up for debate: This is a damn good ’stache.

Why Is “Gangsta’s Paradise” Being Used?

No description can do the experience of watching the trailer justice: The majority of the Sonic the Hedgehog footage is soundtracked by Coolio’s “Gangsta’s Paradise.” Beyond the trauma-inducing look of Sonic himself, this is the most mystifying decision of all.

As far as I can tell, there is nothing that even tangentially connects Sonic to “Gangsta’s Paradise.” Why didn’t they use a song about speed?! There are approximately 100,000 songs about going fast, but they landed on … the song with the video where Coolio raps in Michelle Pfeiffer’s face. Maybe I just didn’t play enough Sonic games in my youth, though. Perhaps the Green Hill Zone is synonymous with “Gangsta’s Paradise.”

Where Are Sonic’s Genitalia?

Sorry, someone had to ask. I was told there would be “edgy moments.”

Will This Movie Actually Spell Doom for Paramount Pictures?

I wish I were kidding, but Paramount is in dire straits. The studio needs its blockbusters to continue to be successful, especially now that Disney’s might is even greater after the acquisition of most of 21st Century Fox and its coveted IP. In other words, Paramount needs more Mission: Impossibles and Bumblebees in its annual lineups, and fewer … Monster Trucks.

While one trailer is certainly not the place to find a definitive takeaway for a film, and bad movies can still earn hundreds of millions of dollars at the box office (see: all of Michael Bay’s Transformers movies), I think it’s fair to assume the studio would rather have people talking about the Sonic film because of how awesome it looks, and not how much it’s rotting our souls from within:

Sonic was ridiculed for months after his swole thighs were unveiled to abject horror in December; this trailer was like pouring gasoline on a large fire. All that said: That ring you just heard was me buying a ticket on opening night for Sonic the Hedgehog. Where we’re going, we won’t need eyes to see.