Movie review

There is overacting. And then there’s what Jim Carrey achieves in “Sonic the Hedgehog 2.”

On the Frantic Meter, he pegs the needle not at 11 but way, way, waaaay beyond to 17 … thousand.

In the role of amped-up chrome-domed villain Dr. Robotnik, he blusters, he blathers, he snarks, he sneers and, above all, he shouts. Or rather: SHOUTS!

Kind of overwhelming. But wholly in keeping with the overall tone of “Sonic 2.” Which is over the top from start to finish. Watching it is like being trapped inside a giant video game. And that totally figures, given its origins.

The further cinematic adventures of the game-derived blue-blur beastie of the title is about 20 minutes longer than the 2020 first “Sonic” movie in what Paramount clearly hopes to be a long-running (and we do mean running) franchise. And virtually every extended minute is crammed with high-intensity action beats. The thing almost never lets up.

For some weird reason, its first big action scene is a car chase set in Seattle — Hello Space Needle! — and then quickly blows the illusion with a shot of a street sign identifying the chase thoroughfare as Hornby Street — Hello Vancouver!

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It’s weird because the hedgehog’s earthly home is in Montana, to which the movie quickly relocates, never to return after trashing the Emerald City in that wild chase. “You destroyed a whole city block!” someone wails as the wreckage flies. “That block was already messed up!” Sonic replies. A-ha! Topicality. Who knew a superpowered hedgehog from outer space follows the news.

Back in Montana, the unfailingly upbeat Sonic (voiced, as in the first movie, by Ben Schwartz) settles in with his human non-animated, adoptive parents — a genial cop and his equally agreeable wife (played by James Marsden and Tika Sumpter, both also returning to the roles they originated in the first movie). Actually, “settles” is not quite the right term because Sonic is a handful, full of junk-food-fueled mischief. When the couple jaunt off to Hawaii for a wedding and leave the blur to his own devices, chaos of course ensues.

Robotnik reappears after being exiled to a mushroom-strewn distant planet, and trashes Sonic’s home sweet home with a vigorous assist from a red animated menace named Knuckles, one of Sonic’s best-known adversaries from the video game. Idris Elba supplies Knuckles’ voice, lending a touch of growly gravity to the proceedings.

The two characters brawl, trading insults and emitting superpowered sparks. Robotnik, who also goes by the name Eggman, eggs them on with gleeful yowls.

Along the way, Sonic is joined by another popular figure from the game, Tails (voiced by Colleen O’Shaughnessey). He’s a brainy little fellow with two tails who worships Sonic and whose special power is the ability to fly using his twin tails as helicopter rotors.

At light speed, the action zips to Siberia, where it momentarily bogs down in an extended dance-off between a bald and shirtless Russian lout and Sonic and Tails. Things pick back up when the action zaps to Hawaii, disrupting the wedding attended by Sonic’s folks.

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Another high-speed transition lands the main characters in a booby-trapped ancient island temple straight out of “Raiders of the Lost Ark.” There they flee for their lives from a immense rolling boulder. “I don’t want to die like this. It’s derivative!” bellows Robotnik. In this picture, the villain has almost all the best lines.

And so it goes, with Sonic, fleet of foot and quick of tongue, racing from one dire situation to another. It’s exhausting, but the makers knew exactly how to tailor it to its game-mad audience. At the end, when there was a quick reveal of another popular game character, the audience at the preview screening gave an appreciative cheer. The blur will be back.

And now a public service announcement: You know how many big franchise pictures these days squirrel teaser scenes at the end of the final credit crawl to keep the audience members in their seats until the lights come up? “Sonic 2” doesn’t do that. Once the credits start to crawl, you can leave.

You’re welcome.

“Sonic the Hedgehog 2” ★★ (out of four)

With James Marsden, Jim Carrey, Tika Sumpter, Lee Majdoub, and the voices of Ben Schwartz, Idris Elba, Colleen O’Shaughnessey. Directed by Jeff Fowler, from a screenplay Pat Casey, Josh Miller and John Whittington. 122 minutes. Rated PG for action, some violence, rude humor and mild language. Opens April 7 at multiple theaters.

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