Sunday, March 13, 2022

Sonic the Hedgehog (2020).

I guess the best place to start is with a little history.  I born the year George Orwell made famous.  If you stop and do the math here, for a bit, you'll soon discover that means I was more or less just in time for the fallout of the big video game crash of 1983.  It was the start of a pretty lean season for the industry.  The problem, so far as I can tell, was a mixture of market over-saturation, combined with an actual drop in public interest with the digital gaming format.  What it meant in practice was a drop in stock value, and lot of important cash drying up in some otherwise hefty pocket books.  The one blessing visited upon the industry was the 1985 release of a home console cartridge for the Nintendo Entertainment System.  It was an otherwise unassuming piece of work known as Super Mario Bros.  The rest was pretty much history by the time I was old enough to even be aware of any of this.  That game is the one which more or less helped in a slow re-building of enthusiasm for the video game format as a whole.  It became such a juggernaut, that by the time my folks bought me and my sister our first SNES console, it was pretty much a matter of ancient history already.  By the time I came onstage, things had changed for the better.

It was near the end of 1991 that our folks treated us to our own slice of early gamer history when we we're both given our own copy of Super Mario World as a little Christmas bonus to go along with the then new console.  It was the first time I'd ever had any of that stuff in my own living room, and my initial reaction is probably worth being ashamed of now, in the eyes of many who are reading this.  The truth of the matter is my first thought was I didn't even know what the hell I was supposed to do with the darned thing.  The scant amount of exposure I can even remember having to video games up to that point comes in the form of an old episode of Mr. Roger's Neighborhood, of all things.  I guess that's worth a laugh too, as these things go.  No matter how ridiculous it really is, there's nothing that can stop it from being the honest truth.  Kindly, old Fred was paying a visit to a local soda fountain shop, and there, in the corner of the room was this little kid futzing around with this huge box with garish looking colors painted all over the side.  It even had pictures on it, as I recall.  They were of a man, a woman, and an ape, for some reason.  The boy told Fred and the kids at home that the game was called Donkey Kong.  And that was literally all she wrote for me till then on the subject of video games.

Aside from the retrospective recognition that 80s Horror icon Keith David also played a role in that segment, there's very little I can add to a discussion of either the format, or it's history.  Like, seriously, I cannot recall a single minute of my life, from that moment until the winter of 91 when I even so much as heard a single thing about video games.  I'm pretty sure I would have remembered at least something of that, as well, because of the narrower window of information at the public's finger tips.  This was way back before the internet began to pick up any real sense of steam, remember.  We're talking now about the last vestiges of a vanishing Analog Age.  It was a style of living that was already in decline by the time that console was plopped right into the center of the family living room.  However, because the web wouldn't go world wide until a good number of years down the road, that meant there was just one way I could have ever learned of video games, and that was through whatever I managed to catch on the cable TV of that decade.  I was a young strip of a lad, back then, however, and as most hyper-active 80s kids, if it wasn't a cartoon I happened to like, then odds are I tuned it out, more often than not.

I never I even really discovered the 80s music video until some time in the early 2000s.  I would catch some of them at odd moments, and yet the inherent, self-indulgent oddity of the format just worked as a turn-off for me.  These days I'm able to get an ironic sort of enjoyment from a lot of them.  Back then, however, it just wasn't worth my time, or so I thought, anyway.  The point is, if I tuned out one, then I sure as hell probably never paid any attention to a single video game commercial if they were ever advertised on television.  And, like I said, my life up to that point hadn't given me any real disposition to the format.  In fact, I remember I was quite reluctant to even bother with it once it was fully set up.  It came off as noisy, and I wanted to focus on whatever else it was I got in my stockings that year.  I know that must sound like blasphemy to a sizable segment of the readers right now.  You'll just have to take my word that I was a novice at the time, and still remain one to this day, in many ways.

Believe it or not, it was the constant nagging of my parents that finally made me sit down next to my sister on the living room rug, and pick up a console control for the first time.  I think they were operating on the knowledge that they'd forked over a pretty penny for this whole system, and damn it they were not about to let all that lost, hard-earned cash go to waste.  Perhaps the second greatest surprise waiting for me that day was not just that I had a video game in my house, but that after a while, I kinda wound up getting into it a bit.  I found myself in control of everyone's favorite, red and blue wearing plumber, and to be fair, that was the start of a brief yet eventful phase of getting hooked on gaming.  The key word here is that it was just a phase only, and I mean every word of that.  The last video games I ever played were somewhere at or about 2002, just before I was set to graduate high school.  The most interesting thing about my entire experience with gaming is just this.  It was a fun bit of a ride, yet it always seems to have been just a diversion for me.  It never made me into a gamer.

Instead, it seems as if books and films have become the overarching hobbies of my life.  These days, the best I can ever manage in terms of gaming is a peak into the occasional Let's Play video on YouTube, here or there.  Beyond this, I think I never had much to say about video games in general.  That's not the same as saying I don't have a clue as to the impact they've had over the years.  Like, even back when I was still a youngster, I was able to get the sense that big things were happening with the medium.  A lot of this awareness came from starting to notice how a lot of the steam the format was building up made itself felt with a noticeable increase in advertising space.  I almost want to say that Mario World was the game that shifted the paradigm by a lot, because after that, it was like every other commercial on the idiot box was about the latest games.  It wasn't just limited to Nintendo back then, either.  Here's the part where my memory gets sketchy.  I can't tell whether I just heard about the Sega Genesis on TV at some point, and egged my parents to get it, or if that was another Christmas gift.

Come to think of it, did I get Mario World in 91 or 92?  I must have miscalculated.  My first ever copy of a Sega game was Sonic 2, and that wasn't released until 1992, so it must have been the Christmas after that when I got both consoles as gifts.  That's because another piece of memory just occurred, and it insists we got both the SNES and the Genesis together at once.  We made a bigger fuss over the Nintendo, as I recall.  Yet I also just remembered the Genesis was there as well.  I think the fact it didn't occur to me all at once is testament to just which system was prioritized at the time.  As I recollect, it wasn't forgotten, just shunted into second place by everyone that day.  I think I was the one who noticed it left lying around, like an unintentional afterthought.  I'm certain for a fact that it came with the Sonic 2 cartridge, because I still have the image of the eyeless looking Robotnik glaring down at our two heroes.  Anyway, I brought it to my mom's attention, and she helped set it up.  Then I put the cartridge in and started the game up.  That's how I first made acquaintance with the Blue Blur.

Like I said, none of it was ever enough to make me into a full-time gamer.  Though I suppose I spent enough time with either a SNES or Genesis controller in my hand to be able to allow all that stuff to carve out a room full of memories in my brain.  It's by no means the most used, or even well kept room in the place.  It's just something that will probably always be there, in some way.  I know I played Sonic just long enough to get a rough idea of the characters and their personalities.  The main character is the snarky trickster, Tails is the ever-present sidekick, Knuckles is sort of the muscle of the group, and Robotnik (or Eggman, depending on how you choose to call him) is the designated baddie.  Beyond that, I'm not sure how much help I can be.  I just point all this out to give you a heads up.  When it comes to looking at a film adaptation like Sonic the Hedgehog, you might have to accustom yourselves to a very rough outsiders perspective, even if it's the best that I can do, under the circumstances.

The Basic Idea.

There's not much to tell, really.  The basic plot concerns the titular video game mascot, and the adventures that he winds up getting involved with.  We first meet Sonic (Ben Schwartz) as a very young lad, living what seems a mostly care-free life in the Green Hill Zone with his parental guardian, voiced by Donna Jay Fulkes.  In a typical enough narrative setup, this happy childhood idyll is one day brought to a crashing end when a group of hostile neighbors, the Echidnas, attacks Sonic in his own home.  He's given a given a bag rings (no, not those kind) that offers the kid an escape route.  A portal that transports the young Hedgehog to a simple looking, blue green world with strange inhabitants all over the place.  This is our world, and now Sonic has to live in it.  With no particular place to go, Sonic makes his way to the nearest, familiar sounding retreat.  It's how he winds up in the small town of Green Hill's, Montana.  There he settles in near the residence of the town sheriff, Tom Wachowski (James Marsden), and his wife, Maddie (Tika Sumpter).  Sonic calls them "Donut Lord" and "Pretzel Lady".  This is partly down to what the couple do in their waking hours (Maddie is something of a Yoga fanatic, in contrast to Mike's somewhat unhealthy diet choices in regards to office pastries), though mainly because he never gets close enough to learn their names.  He keeps himself away from humans.

This gives Sonic's life in his new world something of a sharp sense of irony.  He's now free to roam about the country, and he can never show his face to others.  There's a whole world out there to explore, and he's better off never letting others know that aliens like him exist.  It's a fact which is always hanging around somewhere in the background of his mind.  Though usually he's able to hold it at bay.  One night, however, after like the umpteenth time playing and winning a game of Little League against himself, the reality comes crashing down on him with all the force of punch to the gut.  It leaves enough of an impact to the point where the character finds himself going in literal, Sisyphean circles around the ballpark as he succumbs to a sudden, yet long-awaited attack of existential angst and despair.  The perfect irony is that it's this exact moment of personal crisis that winds up changing his circumstance.

Apparently, traveling at certain velocities fast approaching the speed of light (or somewhere near there, at least) is enough to generate an energy burst strong enough to cause a collective power outage across not just all of Green Hills, yet also a number of neighboring states, and major cities.  At least that's what Sonic unintentionally winds up doing, anyways.  In fact, now that I think of it, he also managed to knock out one of our space satellites.  Umm, oops?  Well, even if that's the case, there's still nothing he can do about it once he gets the attention of the U.S. military.  After a bit of deliberations, the Joint Chiefs decide the best course of action ("I can't believe you're actually going to bring that freak into this!") is to send in one of their "lab rats with teeth" to investigate the whole affair.  Enter Dr. Ivo Robotnik.  He's a tech genius whose also something of a stereotype.  He's gifted with machines, yet he mostly uses them for purposes that might be considered selfish.  He builds drones and equipment that somehow manages to far outstrip anything that the military itself is actually capable off. 

He qualifies as a genius, though this "gift" (if you want to call it that) is shaded in the more darker variety.  The reason for that takes us once more back to the question of the goals he uses all of his knowledge for.  I said a minute ago that they were mostly put to selfish ends.  The one thing he's got going for him so far is that he's never unleashed any of this on the populace at large.  The bad new is that the potential for him to do such a thing exists  as a real threat, and he's the kind of guy with the sort of loose temper that's easy to trigger.  In that sense, calling him selfish is too kind of a word.  It could very well be that there's a dangerous sociopathic streak in this character.  When he was a toddler his brain was already spinning out formulas when others where busy just learning spit up formula.  The only other person who ever successfully punched him in the face was a childhood bully in the old school cafeteria.  Rob wound up using technology to solve the problem, and the kid ate his meals through a straw for a month.  In other words, this is not the kind of guy you want to mess with.

And now this same lunatic is starting to trail on Sonic's heels.  With his cover blown, his bag of rings lost, and nowhere else to turn, Sonic has to enlist Tom's help in a cross country trip to find a way of escaping from Robotnik's grasp, and see if there are any good chili dog stops along the way.

Conclusion: A Crowd Pleaser By and For the Fans.

It's funny 'cause I'll swear there's got to be a better way to talk about a film like this than just starting out with the most obvious fact, the one that everyone knows almost as a matter of rote by now.  It probably doesn't help that this is also the one aspect of the film's production history that everyone is expecting me to comment about.  I just can't shake the notion that there's a lot more to talk about than just the obvious.  That's what blogs like this are all about, after all, to look for the unique aspect, or dig up the oblique angle on a book or film, the one that every body else has overlooked, for whatever reason.  The good news is there is some food for thought, here.  The punchline is that the only way to talk about it is to first give its proper context, which means I've avoided talking about the inevitable long enough on this one.  Might as well bring up the big, damn elephant in the room, before everyone starts pointing out the obvious.  So, yes, let's flog that particular topic just a bit more.

It's common knowledge by now, yet I guess it bears repeating, for the sake of clarity, at least.  The first thing this film did, even before it so much as set a foot outside the starting gate, was gain attention for itself.  It did so in the worst possible way.  When the first trailers for Sonic were released on line, what greeted viewers everywhere was an image that can best be described as a digital brain fart.  The rendering of everyone's favorite Blue Blur was - you know what, I'm even sure I know how to describe the original, uncut version.  I mean, was that even Sonic?  I almost want to give a genuine negative answer to that question.  And I'm not sure I'm being all rhetorical here, either.  What greeted the entire world in that first trailer is, or was of such a quality, that I almost want to say John Carpenter's Thing tried to hide inside of a computer by somehow melding with the software, only to discover the one guise which could never really hide it's fundamentally eldritch abominational nature.  It's either that or else the computer dropped a turd and decided leave it on everyone's doorstep as a welcoming gift.  

I think this is one of those cases where even non-video game fans found it possible to be outraged by what they saw.  I don't recall any anger on my part.  It was more like an automatic sense of cringe, followed by something like, "Oh gosh, no.  Well, that's it then.  I guess this film has had it, even before it had a chance to get started.  Man, talk about sabotaging your own efforts!  Still, it is kind of shame, though.  I mean, I haven't been around that whole franchise in years, and yet even I'm smart enough to know that's not how you treat a property with a large fanbase.  In cases like this, you either got to do it in a way that pleases the fans, or else you take your little soapbox and go the hell somewhere else.  It's the same reason why it's possible for me to agree that things like, say, the recent Thunder Cats reboot qualifies as an absolute dumpster fire, even when the original show is just a few snippets of my memory.  Even I know there was supposed to be a hell of a lot more to it than, whatever the fuck that was.  The same applies to a franchise like this, as far as I'm concerned, take it, or leave it".

So yeah, I thought this was gonna suck, and was more or less content to leave it off my radar as a failure that passed in the night.  What took me (and just about everyone else, as far as I can tell) by surprise, was that it wasn't too long after that initial release trailer that a second image of the character was dropped.  This time, rather than an uncanny valley reject, the finished product looked a lot more like the character from the video game.  At least this time it wasn't an eye sore to look at.  I remember my basic, underground thinking on the matter was somewhere along those lines.  I also wondered what transpired to make that happen?  Now, in the aftermath, the passage of time has revealed enough behind the scenes details to allow a fairly decent picture of what was happening backstage.  What it has to tell is a bit more than interesting, to say the least.  I'm starting to wonder if this was a genuine break from the filmmaking norm.  The details themselves are pretty basic.  It's so much a part of pop culture knowledge, that it's almost passed into the realms of filmmaking legend by this point in time.

What happened next brings us to the other obligatory part of this film's legacy.  The funny thing is how it is just possible to claim there's more to talk about here, as it could tell us a lot about the current state of the film industry in relation to general audiences.  The result of this display of digital diarrhea was a fan backlash which was so fundamentally unavoidable that you almost have to stop and wonder if the filmmakers were the type to pin a Kick Me sign on their backs as a matter of routine perversity.  And yes, I am aware of the theory that the whole thing was an elaborate stunt to help generate enough publicity for the film.  All I've got to say is even if that's not the case, the funny part is how the fallout from the whole thing is one of those controversies that act as their own, self-generating form of notoriety.  Incidents like this just have a way of becoming a wildfire no matter what the initial intent.  It's easy to see where such theories come from, in other words.  As far as I can tell, that whole debacle was the result of nothing more than a textbook case of studio penny-pinching when the time came to make sure the main star of the show was given the right opportunity to put his best foot forward, is all.

Still, the interesting thing is how it all wound up as an illustration of the old adage of being able to turn a negative into a positive.  Now, before we go any further, it should be noted that this is not the first time that an audience reaction has resulted in changes made to the final cut of a film.  The best example I know of aside from this one would have to be the denouement of Sylvester Stallone's First Blood.  Most folks know the finished product as it still exists on video store shelves and streaming services today.  What they might no be aware of is the fact the first test release featured a very different ending, one in which everyone's favorite one-man army winds up biting a literal bullet.  In other words, yes, Rambo died in the first version of the film.  When test audiences wrote back claiming that the ending was no good, Orion Pictures listened to what people where saying, and they went back to the sound stage with all the necessary cast and crew, and filmed the ending we're all familiar enough with by now.

There are tons of other examples of this sort of thing happening in the film world.  Another famous example is one that never even got out of the first draft stage.  For instance, would you believe that at one point Roger Rabbit was also supposed to die at the end of his own movie?  What's interesting to note there is that this is an idea that was tossed up as a potential plot point, only to get immediately shot down, and everyone went on from there to work out the overall satisfying conclusion that we wound up with.  I think it's important to note what happened there, because of what it says about how the industry worked way back when, in comparison to the strange, clunky, inefficiency of today.  The key thing to note is that even back then, a bad idea was something that was bound to crop up in the course of hashing out a script.  What makes these earlier examples notable however appears to be a key ingredient which is no longer on hand as much as it used to be.  That would be the presence of anyone with an actual knack for telling what can work on a genuine artistic level for any given story.

What I mean is that it's like there was always just someone hanging around, as part of the overall creative process who knew how to troubleshoot in a way that worked.  Some person would always be there who could look at a script or an idea and say, "No, wait, I can see what your problem is, here's how you fix it", and then that person was listened to, and the result tended to work, more often than not.  It's an aspect of a lot of our favorite films that I'm not sure the majority of viewers out there are aware of.  You hear that filmmaking is a collaborative process, and yet that troubleshooter position might just be the most vital and overlooked part of the whole operation.  That's the role for the person who always has to be aware of what makes or breaks a film.  Without that insight, even the best made efforts can tend to stall.  It could be that a lot of the reason for why we keep seeing foul-ups like the initial Sonic design is because things have streamlined to such an extent that we just no longer have that sort of vital component as part of the process.  There could be too many people operating under the mistaken assumption that a work of art is something that operates on an assembly line technique.

And the reality is that's just never been true at all.  Samuel Coleridge wrote a poem about having to give up on another poem because he just couldn't find the right way in.  J.R.R. Tolkien took a long and torturous time in getting LOTR down on paper, in a work of fits and starts over a number of years.  Just to read about, even in capsule form, is enough to leave one exhausted.  Such is the nature of working with the Imagination.  Those seem to be the basic take-it-or-leave-it terms.  Which is ironic, because its the one thing Hollywood thinks it can never afford to do, even when you have to.  It's sort of what makes the whole turns of events all the more remarkable.  With the deadline for the release date fast approaching, the team of artists who worked on the film were brought back, given as much of a budget as they needed this time, and they somehow managed to get a legitimate appearance for the character. 

It's something that gets talked about like it's this unprecedented feat.  That may not be the whole truth of the matter, and yet it is just possible to see why so many people tend to make such a great deal over it.  This development comes after a long series of setbacks in the show business field.  I've already hinted at some of them above, and many readers here can fill in the blanks on their own.  What makes it remarkable isn't that Paramount listened to audience feedback, it's that this otherwise familiar event is the first time this has been the case in a long while.  In that sense, it was the first film company to break with whatever self-contained, oyster style paradigm that has been dominating the industry for several years now.  Paradoxically, this also means they were the one's to play it just a bit smart, or clever enough for their own good.  What makes it noteworthy is that so many people cared enough to effect something like a positive change, even if it remains restricted to the field of the arts.  Perhaps it doesn't sound like much, yet even I have to admit an achievement of sorts, or an advance whenever I see it.

If it's not unprecedented, then at least it can be classified as a positive.  It's also interesting how just one simple adjustment can modify the way an audience perceives an entire film.  It can't say I know how things would have turned out if the studio hadn't listened to the fans.  It's difficult to imagine an alternate timeline, in the strictest sense.  Imagining onto a blank canvas is always more complicated than it looks.  However, it is just possible to picture a version of this film where the original graphics were kept, and the only reason anyone ever saw it at all is for the sole reason of what can only be described as troll watching, making it the sort of film that tanks at the box office, and then gains a second life on the web and home media as a kind of cinematic punching bag.  If I may be allowed to indulge in this fantasy for just a bit longer.  I can imagine what I would have said of this alternate version of the movie.  I'd have probably pointed out how the visuals could be such a distraction that they have a remarkable potential to ruin whatever other positives the film might have in its favor.

Instead, it makes everything appear from an off-kilter angle.  The jokes would refuse to land, the story might come off as trite, and not even the efforts Jim Carry (who really is the best thing about this movie, if I'm being honest, particularly as he is performing at top-tier quality) could manage to salvage a sinking ship that was drilled full of too many holes even before it left dry dock.  As things have turned out, it really does seem as if its the fans who deserve all the credit here.  It really doesn't seem too much of a stretch to claim that they're the ones who sort of helped complete the picture, and turn it into the start of a potentially lucrative franchise.  If anything, I'd have to acknowledge that they might have helped resurrect Carry's film career, at the very least.  I can't say that's what anyone was expecting to happen, even under the best of circumstances.  That's got to be one for the Guinness Book right there.

Congratulations on that, then, I guess.  The most interesting aspect in all this for me, however, is what this says about the power, or potential influence that the fans, just as a modern phenomenon of pop-culture, has or can have on the future of the industry.  It's interesting because for the longest time, at least in my mind, it's always seemed as if fandom occupied this sort of passive state in the overall function of the arts.  It could be that what happened here might be the first signs of a slow building sea change.  I once heard Robert Zemeckis claim in an interview that the 1950s marked the birth of the teenager as an influence on American culture.  Is it at all possible for the 21st century to witness the start of the fan as a shaping force in the arts?  I'm not so sure the question is all that rhetorical, either.  Nor am I eager to rush to all the judgment calls its possible to make in a situation like this.

My reasons for doing so are perched more or less on the fence post of caution.  It's all got to do with a question in my mind about where reasonable demands begin and end, if that makes any sense?  Now don't get me wrong, in an instance like the Sonic film, it's a more or less open and shut case.  You can tell, without having to be told, why all the fans got so good and pissed about it.  It was little more than the natural enough reaction to a shoddy piece of work that was poorly done.  In this example, the mistakes, and the adjustments necessary to correct them are so obvious that it would be more of a head scratcher if the entire audience applauded the image as one.  Instead, as I say, it was the logical response to a bad attempt at art.  The same applies to a handful of a few other recent specimens with similar problems.  The recent incarnation of Star Wars, for instance, suffers from a lack of character consistency and motivation, which in turn all seems to stem from a shortage of logic in the over-arching narrative.  In fact, it is just possible to make a valid argument that the recent trilogy doesn't really have anything like a real story.

Alright then, so far, so good.  Each of the examples given makes sense.  The key thing to note here is the reason why these complaints are valid.  It comes down to the use of words like logical or natural.  What I mean is that the response to a lot of the recent debacles in Tinseltown are, so far, of a nature which is in harmony with the dictates of commonsense.  An ongoing number of bad artworks have appeared on the scene, and are criticized accordingly.  As far as that goes, there is no real issue to talk about, other than what alternative creative choices could have helped turn things around?  The part where it all gets blurred and problematic for me is in trying to figure out where or when does criticism cease to be valid, and start to become something else?  These recent examples don't really help us all that much in finding an answer to this last question, I'm afraid.  They're all so damned cut and dried that, in the strictest sense, it's not even necessary to have this sort of conversation.  I suppose its possible to frame it in terms of hypotheticals.  For instance, what would have happened if the original design work for Sonic had been maintained, and everything else kept the same?  Would it still have been good?

Something tells me the answer would have been no.  And yet here's the part where the hypothesis fails, because that's not the film we wound up with.  So I'm left having to guess into a void waiting to be filled in, if that makes any sense.  I guess I'll just have to leave off this bit of critical stargazing by saying I'm in favor of a lot of the pros of this new found fan power, while also insisting we each keep an eye out for any potential cons when they show up on the doorstep.  That said, I do like to wonder, sometimes, what other good uses this could be put to?  For instance, wouldn't it be fun if this kind of momentum could help, say, kickstart an anime version of Timothy Zahn's Heir to the Empire trilogy?

Just a thought, anyway.  However, stargazing can sometimes take us too far afield, and perhaps its best to start packing things up here.  The main point is that this is a film made by and for the fans, one of the first of its kind.  It did well enough to the point where the first trailer for the sequel dropped not too long ago, and the world got its first look at a cinematic version of ol Knuckle-Head himself.  The difference is this time, the audience came away charmed and eager for more.  I think that's the part of the follow-up I'm most curious about.  Like, are they going to let the character keep all the initial badass qualities he used to have back in the 90s, or are they just going to devolve him back to comic relief, like we've got now?  I'll have to confess I kind of hope that's not true.  What I think could work is like a happy compromise of some sort.  In other words, let Knuckles have his comedic moments, just don't do it at the expense of his character.  Let him instead be more the cause of humor at the expense of the bad guys, like Sonic, only with his own spin and style.  Let him be more deadpan in his deliveries and one-liners, if there are any to be had.  At the same time, don't be afraid to make him competent.

It would be a welcome change of pace for the character, and if he should reveal that he knows a lot of Eggman's secrets, and so knows how to defeat him because Robotnik made the stupid, yet perhaps necessary mistake of teaching Knuckles some of the secrets of his machines, then for goodness sake play into that.  It gives the character this edge of intelligence which he hasn't had in quite a while, and it could make him an interesting sort of foil for the franchises resident tech-head, Tails.  You could create a very interesting dynamic between all three, with Knuckles and Miles bashing heads in a way that I don't think we've seen done previously with either of them.  It gives an interesting tension where each of them knows a lot about the machines, and how to handle or defeat them, and yet it also leaves room for the lingering question of how much does one decide to trust the other, with neither one sure when to give or hold their ground.  The best part is that it's a new spin on an old setup that still manages to maintain a lot of the familiar interactions that we've grown used to with these characters over the years.

That, at least, is one idea for how to tell the next story in a smart way.  See what I did there?  It's another example of at least trying to make a creative suggestion that's in keeping in the actual spirit of the franchise.  That's what I mean when I bring up the topic of fans helping in a positive direction.  Which sort of makes it important, to me at least, that there be some way to find out when or if you're doing it wrong.  That's a topic for another day, of course.  Right now it's enough to state that Sonic the Hedgehog marks an interesting point in the history of art and its audiences.  It is not a new occurrence, yet it might be the first time that an audience has attained an awareness of itself, and more importantly of its potential to shape and mold the direction of the arts, whether for good or ill.  In that sense, the final product in this case is just as much the creation of the fans, as it is of any individual artist.  The final result is a film that fans can be sure to enjoy, and it will be interesting to see where all this goes.      


  1. I have almost exclusively heard people who've seen the second movie say that it's even better than the first. I've seen neither, and have no connection to the character; but this writeup makes it sound interesting. Nice!

    1. I haven't seen "Sonic 2", either. Though it's good to know the word on the street is positive. Have to catch up with that one someday.