The last great movie to hit cinemas before the fall of society, Sonic the Hedgehog, has finally arrived on home video. Well, in physical format, at least — it’s been available digitally for some time now, which just begs the question of what you get if you’ve opted to wait for a release you can proudly put on your shelf next to such cinematic classics as Super Mario Bros. and Street Fighter.
Now, just to be clear: This isn’t about the movie itself. We’ve done that already, and odds are pretty good that if you’re reading this site, then you already have, too, and have formed your own opinion of it (for the record, though? Love it. That’s why I’m here before you today).
No, this review is about the home video release and what that entails, and whether it’s a worthy addition to your collection, or if you should just stick to watching it on Netflix (or whoever has the streaming rights where you are).
The Total Package?
So, you basically have three options with how to get this: DVD, Blu-ray, and 4K Ultra HD. Handily, the two latter versions each come with the next step down, plus a digital version to boot. For this reason, I went with 4K Ultra HD, despite not having a 4K television nor player; I can watch the Blu-ray now, and I’m future-proofed for when I do upgrade.
The version I got from Amazon features a slip cover which slides over a plastic 2-disc case. It also comes with a comic, which I’ll get into in a bit.
It’s not of particularly high quality or anything; average, really. When I opened it up, the 4K Ultra HD disc was already off the spindle, which has sadly become all-too commonplace with these things. Maybe that future-proofing wasn’t such a great idea in hindsight; point for digital, I guess. Anyway, the disc didn’t seem to be damaged, so let’s all hope for the best for future me.
In addition to the discs, there are two inserts: One (not pictured) is a two-sided flyer with ads for some of Paramount’s other recent releases on one side, and the code with instructions on how to redeem it for the digital version on the other. Of greater interest to parties here, I suspect, is the two-sided flyer advertising various Sonic and SEGA stuff. One side is pushing Team Sonic Racing, Sonic Forces, and Sonic Mania to new fans of the Blue Blur, while the other side invites you to play Sonic Forces: Speed Battle and Sonic Dash on mobile, and to visit the SEGA Shop for official Sonic the Hedgehog movie merchandise.
Incidentally, there’s also a Steelbook version available out there. In the States, it’s exclusive to Best Buy, but no such luck here in Canada. As I found out only too late after ordering mine from Amazon, word came to me that Walmarts north of the border carry it.
Getting into the contents of the discs themselves, the 4K Ultra HD disc seems to just have the movie and commentary, while the Blu-ray has that and everything else.
The menu is kind of neat, featuring the same pixel animation (or one very similar) seen during the credits, complete with a short version of “Speed Me Up” from the movie’s soundtrack playing over it.
The Fast and the Features
The top feature is to run the movie with commentary track from director Jeff Fowler and Ben “Sonic” Schwartz playing over it. This was enjoyable, in part because Ben had apparently not seen the final cut of the movie yet when they recorded this (no, not even that part). They point out Easter Eggs, talk about behind-the-scenes stuff, and even drop some bits of trivia — such as Fowler having worked for Blur Studios in California, where one of the first things he worked on was the cinematic scenes for Shadow the Hedgehog, helping to establish a relationship with SEGA and reaching this point.
The next feature is “Around the World in 80 Seconds,” which is the full version of the clip you might have seen above, with Sonic narrating a notebook doodle-styled cartoon recapping a trip he took around the world (in 80 seconds). It’s not super long — a little longer than 80 seconds, but not by much.
Then we have the big one: Deleted scenes. These are pretty cool, as they go from adding additional context to certain aspects of the film to showing a different version of what might have been. Crazy Carl’s famous drawing scene is expanded upon as more than a montage, and adds a bit of depth and weight to Tom’s decision to leave Green Hills. Then there’s the alternate opening, a different sequence showing how Sonic came to Earth (and not alone), using early rough models featuring the original designs. Finally, if you can’t get enough of Rachel and Wade, they’ve got an added scene as well.
We’ve also got bloopers. Love ’em or hate ’em, it’s at least fun to see what Jim Carrey does when he flubs a line.
If the loop on the menu wasn’t enough, then you can watch and listen to the full version of Wiz Khalifa’s “Speed Me Up” music video. Sure, it’s on YouTube now, but who knows what the future may bring?
“For the Love of Sonic” features the cast and crew talking about their affinity for the little bundle of blue, both as a video game character and as a cultural icon. They also talk a little about how they had to try to adapt the elements and iconography for the big screen, such as the obvious Green Hills, MT, and the less-obvious “Marble Street” within, which was done as a nod to the Marble Zone. (Makes you wonder if the traffic on that street is slower than in other parts of town.)
“Building Robotnik with Jim Carrey” is pretty much what you think it is. Carrey and the crew discuss how they see the character and portrayed him in the film, how much fun it was performing the role, and the joy of working with a star like Carrey (which Sonic himself, and I don’t mean Schwartz, comments on).
“The Blue Blur: Origins of Sonic” looks back at the Blue Blur’s hedgehog history, primarily in — where else? — video games. What surprised me was that they seemed quite willing to show, shall we say, “less popular” games like Sonic the Hedgehog 4: Episode I and Sonic Boom: Rise of Lyric along with the more popular stuff. It’s not likely to surprise seasoned Sonic fans with anything (though I don’t think I’ve seen the early “My Name Is” Sonic logos before), but if this is someone’s introduction to the franchise, then it’s a good place to start.
In addition to movie cast and crew contributing to the feature, Sonic Chief Brand Officer Ivo Gerscovich (who is unconfirmed to have lived a previous life as “Ovi Hcivocsreg”) and Sonic Team’s Takashi Iizuka talk a bit as well. Amusingly, one bit has a clip from the movie where Sonic talks about what his rings are for, which leads in to Iizuka talking about how iconic the Chaos Emeralds are in the games, rather than anything about the rings. It’s just a bit of an odd disconnect there.
The last bonus feature on the disc is “Sonic on Set,” which goes into the process used for Ben Schwartz to not only voice Sonic, but actually portray him via motion capture sensors all over his face. What surprised me was that, after some clips got around online, I thought we’d see some of the behind-the-scenes stuff featuring the model based on the original design for the character in the movie. Nope; none of that.
That is where this release might disappoint some people. They don’t ignore the original design entirely, as you can see a standee in “Sonic on Set” with the old design as Schwartz does his thing, but besides that and the unfinished CGI in the deleted scenes, there is virtually nothing about it here at all. The original trailer — nor any trailer for the movie, for that matter — is included in the extras. It’s not brought up in the commentary, either.
In effect, it doesn’t seem like they’re going out of their way to hide that it once existed, but at the same time, they’re not really acknowledging it openly, either. And since it seems there is a subset of people who seem to like whatever version of the movie that would have been more because of how disturbing it was, they’ll likely find little to satiate that particular thirst here.
Finally, we have a non-disc bonus in The Adventures of Sonic & Donut Lord, a 13-page comic book which contains a sort of alternate telling of the events of the movie, using the same pixel art style seen in the credits, menu, and music video. It’s the same size as the case, so it won’t fit inside (can’t speak for the Steelbook, of course), but at least it does slide in nicely between the slipcover and case, which is actually how it’s packaged.
The story is cute if not exactly spectacular. When I ordered this, I was hoping it would be some sort of new adventure with this incarnation of Sonic, maybe a little post-movie high jinks or something. Nevertheless, it makes for a neat little collectible, particularly as it’s printed on a really nice glossy stock — higher grade than your usual comic books.
That’s a Wrap!
So, is the physical version worth getting? Well, if you love the movie and want to keep it to watch well beyond the expiration of digital rights, then absolutely — but then, I probably didn’t have to tell you that. But based on the additional stuff you get with it, it’s a pretty solid package, albeit maybe not be as “complete” as some people would like with regards to the history of the production.
Even so, I think what’s here makes it a great addition to a Sonic fan’s collection, and might be even better still for newcomers to the franchise. Maybe a better version will come someday, but for now, I’m happy to have this one on my shelf.