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Why Sonic's Live-Action Design Looks Worse Than Detective Pikachu's Pokémon

Sonic and Detective Pikachu

Here's why Sonic the Hedgehog's live-action movie design hasn't been as well received as the Pokémon populating the world of Detective Pikachu. The initial posters for the upcoming live-action Sonic the Hedgehog movie have attracted plenty of negative reaction online. The two images, one of Sonic shrouded in darkness and the other showing the hedgehog's legs resting on the Golden Gate bridge, have been accused of having little in common with the character's original design, showing an overly buffed-up humanoid mutation of the blue speedster and of being just a little bit creepy.

The new Sonic has yet to be officially unveiled in full, but a third image posted on Reddit reportedly shows an early concept design (also featuring Chris Pratt, who was ultimately not cast) and this too has failed to generate excitement for the project. Arguably, Sonic the Hedgehog was perhaps always going experience a tricky transition to live-action. Not only do game-to-movie adaptations rarely fare well, but molding a beloved video game character into a fully realized CGI creation that works in a real life setting sounds like an impossible task.

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Not quite impossible, as it turns out. Pokémon fans didn't exactly know what to expect from the Ryan Reynolds-fronted Detective Pikachu and, on paper at least, it seemed an odd decision to base the first live-action Pokémon movie on a relatively niche spinoff game. But when the movie's first trailer arrived last month, the reaction was immediately and unanimously positive, particularly with regards to the look of Pikachu and his fellow pocket monsters.

Both Sonic and Pokémon are beloved video game franchises looking to break into the world of live-action cinema by bringing their characters to life using CGI, but one has been praised far more readily than the other. Here's why Detective Pikachu's Pokémon designs look better than Sonic the Hedgehog.

How Detective Pikachu Has Made Pokémon Live-Action

Ryan Reynolds in Detective Pikachu

Many Pokémon were showcased in the Detective Pikachu trailer and every single one of them was instantly recognizable, from Psyduck and his dopey facial expression to Jigglypuff's Superman-esque hair curl. There doesn't appear to have been any significant effort to change the core design of these creatures, other than to add texture (fur, feathers, scales and the like) or bring the monsters slightly closer in style to the real-life animals they're based on.

Focusing specifically on Pikachu himself, all of the recognizable features are present: the lightning bolt tail, the rosy red cheeks and the floppy long ears. Of course, the fur is more obvious than previous representations and the cartoonishness of the eyes has been toned down but, essentially, Detective Pikachu is the Pikachu fans remember.

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Detective Pikachu's critters appear largely animalistic in nature but there also has to be some level of human personality present, especially with Pikachu. Judging from the trailer footage, these aspects are achieved by facial expressions, movement and Ryan Reynolds' vocal performance - an approach that has proved effective in recent cinematic history. Rocket Raccoon from Guardians of the Galaxy and Paddington's titular bear are both animal characters that needed to present human emotions, but rather than redesign them to look more human, both characters utilized a combination a speech and movement to get across their anthropomorphic elements. Detective Pikachu has used a similar method and looks to be enjoying a similar level of acclaim.

How Sonic Has Moved To Live-Action

Compared to Detective Pikachu, the Sonic the Hedgehog movie appears to be doing things very differently. It's important to take into consideration that fans haven't seen as much of the new Sonic as they have of Ryan Reynolds' electric rodent, with only two posters and an image of unconfirmed origin to work from. This hasn't prevented a barrage of negative comments being aimed at Paramount's design however, with the most frequent critique simply that live-action Sonic doesn't really resemble the classic character that people know and love.

In fairness, Sonic was always at somewhat of a disadvantage being an animal/human hybrid. Whereas most Pokémon are essentially just dangerous and more colorful versions of real animals, Sonic's basic design mixes animal and humanoid elements, which makes a transition to live-action far more challenging. But while Detective Pikachu's approach placed more focus on each creature's beast-like qualities, it's Sonic's human features that are being accentuated in the new design, and this is the primary source of the criticism.

Whether it be the long muscular legs, the slender human hands or the man-like stance, Sonic the Hedgehog fans clearly aren't identifying with the live-action design. While a true-to-life approach was obviously out of the question - a blue hedgehog crawling on all-fours into a busy road is nobody's idea of a good film - making Sonic more human has alienated a large part of the fanbase. Surely, there was a happy medium to be found between the above scenario and the actual design.

Page 2 of 2: Why Detective Pikachu Is A Better Live-Action Design

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Key Release Dates
  • Sonic the Hedgehog (2020) release date: Feb 14, 2020
  • Detective Pikachu (2019) release date: May 10, 2019
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