The first Sonic the Hedgehog trailer is a ’90s abomination

Grotesque might be a harsh word for those leaked images of the Sonic the Hedgehog film that came out a while ago. Aghast? Hmmm… still too brutal. Bewildered? Yeah, let’s stick with that.

I was bewildered by this Sonic’s ultra-realistic fur, humanoid physique, and them leg-day-for-years calf muscles. I mean, I get the design choices—this is how I’d expect a blue superfast mutant rodent to look like—but it was still a jarring departure from the videogame character SEGA burned into my eyes as a child.

However, static images can never really tell you how something will look in motion. The right setting, tone, direction, script, and actors can make any ridiculous concept work on screen. Need I remind everyone for the 48th time how bloody good Detective Pikachu looks?

Now, with the release of the first trailer, we finally get to see the Sonic the Hedgehog movie in motion…

…and it’s an absolute abomination.

It’s telling when Sonic’s bewildering look isn’t even the biggest problem with this trailer. In fact, I wouldn’t even consider it a problem. He looks like a freak of nature and everyone in this trailer treats him as such, so that actually seems to work just fine.

Unfortunately, it all goes south the moment he puts his finger on the boombox and plays the baffling choice of Coolio’s Gangsta’s Paradise. You know, the 1995 classic anthem reflecting on a violent place and deprived culture that came from decades of institutionalized racism? Lyrics like “I’ve been blastin’ and laughin’ so long that even my mama thinks that my mind is gone” really drum up the visual of a hedgehog with red sneakers, huh?

It’s a cynical choice of song for this trailer, the kind that sacrifices sense for REMEMBER THE ’90s!?!? It was fair to say Captain Marvel hit hard on the nose with No Doubt’s Just a Girl, but at least that aimed for something.

As excited as I initially was to hear Jim Carrey cast as Dr. Robotnik, it doesn’t look like he has much to work with. He’s still giving it 100—he always does, bless him—but the scene with an army general gives the impression that the script swapped actual dialogue for “Carry interrupts obnoxiously re: Ace Ventura” and “Carry talks really fast re: Liar Liar.”

It’s a trailer designed to shake out as much ’90s nostalgia as it can (the tagline is “Every hero has a genesis” for eff sake). Trailers often do that to the detriment of what’s actually in the film, but as Detective Pikachu proved (that’s the 49th mention for those keeping count), you don’t need to shove nostalgia in people’s faces to get them hyped about a nostalgic property—just belief in the world and story you’ve created.

I don’t see much of that belief here, but I can muster up a couple of positives. The set-up kinda reminds me of Simon Pegg and Nick Frost’s fairly funny alien road trip comedy Paul, so that’s a good-ish thing. It also does my heart good to see James Marsden using his underappreciated comedic talents again. Here’s hoping the finished film gives him material that doesn’t fall on its face like the final joke in this trailer.