Jim Carrey is Dr. Robotnik in Sonic the Hedgehog - and he looks great? The Sonic movie has been the strangest video game movie proposition of 2019, and when the year also includes the first live-action Pokemon movie centered on a Ryan Reynolds-voiced Pikachu, that's saying something. Ben Schwartz plays the speedy rodent in a buddy-cop comedy with James Marsden, with a design that has caused a lot of debate as Paramount has slowly revealed it.
Now a full Sonic the Hedgehog trailer has released and it's only made the project more bemusingly intriguing. The design of Sonic himself is even more unnerving when moving (especially the intentionally unconnected eyes) and the tone varies from slapstick comedy to big action (with Coolio's "Gangsta's Paradise" and a Sega Genesis joke thrown in for good measure). But there's one thing above all else that will get people talking, and possibly for the right reasons: Jim Carrey's Dr. Robotnik.
Robotnik takes center stage in the Sonic trailer. After the titular hero's introduction, the villain is brought in to hunt him down, introduced in a long setpiece where Carrey does classic 1990s era mugging. He keeps it up throughout the trailer, before a final, post-date tease reveals him in full Eggman look: big mustache, red costume, big goggles and one hell of a smirk. Clearly, some part of his run-in with Sonic will transform him into the classic look.
Straight up, that final Sonic trailer shot looks great. It manages to capture everything a live-action Dr. Robotnik would need on a visual level, while fitting in with the rest of the film. He's a bit more bedraggled than what game fans may be used to, but that's a good shorthand for his unkempt madness. It's also worth noting he appears to be in the Mushroom Hill Zone, the first level from Sonic & Knuckles, suggesting a greater focus on bringing the world of the games to life.
Beyond base design, that Carrey is channeling himself from 20 years ago is incredibly important. The actor's been removed from Hollywood for a long time, with projects chosen in a very unexpected manner that lead to even stranger public appearances: he disowned Kick-Ass 2's violence on the press tour, and was more recently seen getting incredibly existential in a red carpet puff interview. It's entertaining to see again, one aspect of the Sonic the Hedgehog trailer's 1990s-throwback nature that feels utterly intentional.
Those two aspects come together to make Robotnik seem to work. In the Sonic games, he's a gigantic Eggman, something utterly impossible to render in live-action without being ridiculous; you can't have someone that large and disproportioned, especially when there's already a high suspension of disbelief in the existence of Sonic. Carrey having a larger than life performance - his smirk may as well be the size of that 'tache - acts a bridge between that.
At the moment, there's just a trailer to go on, and it must be said the rest of Sonic the Hedgehog looks considerably less exciting. But, based on the little bit of footage, Jim Carrey's Dr. Robotnik could be an over-the-top delight.
- Sonic the Hedgehog (2020) release date: Feb 14, 2020