★★

Coming to live action for the first time since his 1991 debut is Sonic the Hedgehog, helmed by director Jeff Fowler. Unfortunately, the script by Patrick Casey and Josh Miller falls short of even the thin source material. Worse, Jim Carrey‘s portrayal of the villain is as dimensional as a character in a three-minute television sketch.

Sonic (Ben Schwartz), a hyper-powered hedgehog from another planet, has taken refuge on Earth for the last several years, but boredom and loneliness have taken their toll. In a moment of frustration, his powers cause a major blackout that draws the attention of the Federal government. They, in turn, send out Dr. Ivo Robotnik (Carrey) to investigate the cause. Sonic turns to Sheriff Tom Wachowski (James Marsden), whose family he has vicariously adopted as his own, to help him escape Robotnik and make it to the next safe world.

The script is untenable, combining a buddy film, an adventure, and a coming-of-age story in a narrative with many loose ends. Much of it seems like a half dozen random ideas were drawn from a hat, and then staff writers were told to find a way to make these all work together. There are a few entertaining moments for both adults and children, but not enough to redeem the haphazard tale. It seems to rely mostly on the fact that people know and remember the title character, as though that should be enough.

Marsden pulls off an excellent job of portraying the rescuer and friend to Sonic, to the point that you never feel the two aren’t both on the screen together. Unfortunately, Carrey is never captivating on the screen as Robotnik; instead, he consistently rehashes old, tired expressions and movements from his previous performances. There isn’t anything new here to make the character matter, and this affects the overall film.

The effects are tight, fast, and frenzied as fits the speedster character. Despite this, there are very few times the audience gets lost in the action, although it can be dizzying. The visual effects blend well with the live action, whether it is just Sonic or dozens of aerial craft. But even these spectacular visuals cannot overcome the weak script and disappointing performance by Carrey.

As one of the most beloved video game characters of all time, there were big shoes to fill in making such a film. Unfortunately, the story is smaller than the title character’s footwear, and as worn out, too. There just isn’t enough that rings as original.