As you can see in Elisha’s review, we dug the Sonic the Hedgehog movie from Paramount Pictures quite a bit. Now, as we approach the release on DVD, BluRay, and 4K Ultra HD, I thought it’d be worth taking a closer look at the 4K version, as well as the bonus features you’ll get when it hits shelves today. This article will cover just the technical bits of what’s in the 4K UHD package, as well as some impressions on the overall technical bits. Gotta go fast, so let’s dig in.
Before we check out the movie itself, let’s dig into the extras. Kicking things off, there is a full commentary track by Ben Schwartz, the voice of Sonic in the movie, and film director Jeff Fowler. The commentary gives a little insight on some of the scenes, as well as adding a few laughs here and there. Around the World in 80 Seconds gives some hints about where Sonic could go next (as if the ending doesn’t give you some idea). The Deleted Scenes sections are introduced by Mr. Fowler and are often lightly textured renders meant to give the team an idea of the overall beats for the movie. One deleted scene features young Sonic and the difficulties Longclaw faced in parenting a fledgling speedster. Most of these are worth a chuckle, but it’s also clear why they were cut. On the other hand, the Bloopers reel is good for a whole bunch of laughs. For the Love of Sonic features the cast talking about what Sonic means to them. Carrey says he isn’t a gamer and had only played the game a few times prior to casting, but jumped in with both feet with his grandkids, but the rest of the cast all seem to have grown up with Sega’s mascot. That said, it didn’t stop Jim from completely capturing the bizarre mannerisms and sarcastic nature of Sonic’s arch nemesis, as you can see in another behind the scenes called “Building Robotnik”. The Blue Blur: Origins of Sonic is a great trip down memory lane, featuring some great archive footage of the many Sonic titles over the years (though they somehow left out Sonic The Fighters — one of the worst Sonic games ever made). Sonic On Set gives viewers a behind the scenes view of the set for Sonic the Hedgehog with the protagonist voice actor, Ben Schwartz, showcasing some of how they put together the final scenes in the movie. The music video for “Speed Me Up” (the song running during the credits) is here…if you really feel the need to check that out, it’s a thing that exists.
Moving on to the film, we took a look at the movie in 4K in the UHD version of the film. The colors in the film are fantastic, especially near the end of the movie when we see a glowing quill or two. The black portions of the film are pitched perfect without a single bit of tiling or artifacting. Similarly, well-lit scenes don’t cast off that “this is obviously CGI pasted onto a real-world scene” look that some movies have when bumped up to 4K. The UHD version of the film also supports high dynamic range lighting (HDR), and I have no doubt a great deal of work was spent on precisely capturing natural lighting, and it shows. Frankly, I can’t find a single quill out of place here — the transfer is, in a word, perfect. I didn’t get into the theater to see this before we all got stuck inside, but I suspect this looks better than the big screen.
If you’ve got an Atmos or 7.1 surround sound system, this could be a fantastic movie to show it off. Sonic has many scenes in the film where he zips back and forth, and it will give your ears a workout. Up, down, left, right, under, and over — the little guy’s speedy nature is perfectly captured by the strong dynamic surround sound. Nowhere is that more true than one of the saddest portions of the movie when Sonic tries to play baseball by himself. Zipping around the bases, he eventually unleashes a massive sonic boom (enjoy the pun) and pops every light in the entire town of Green Hills, Montana. This slow buildup as he gains speed starts as a rumble and builds to a roar with a massive explosion at the end, and boy did it explode. Rattling everything glass in the room, this scene shakes you to the bone.
Beyond bass, I appreciated just how clear the center channel is on this transfer. I’m 3/4 deaf, so voices tend to get lost in the shuffle of background noise and soundtrack, but here I was able to enjoy the movie without needing subtitles — a rarity these days. Overall, just like the video transfer, I can’t find a single thing to complain about with the audio in Sonic the Hedgehog.
Do you need a bonus? Because I feel like you need a bonus. Ok, you get a bonus. If you pick up the 4K UltraHD version of Sonic the Hedgehog, it also comes with a limited edition comic book — The Adventures of Sonic & Donut Lord! This 13 page comic book retells the events of the movie, but uses the original game’s 16-bit graphics. It’s a cool little addition that marries this reimagined high-def Sonic with his Sega Genesis past. I don’t know if it’ll be a permanent fixture of this version, so you might want to snap it up quickly if you’d like this comic for your collection.
Summary: I can’t say I was expecting Sonic the Hedgehog to be a bone-rattling system-stressing UHD for showing off my theater, but here we are. The movie is a whole lot of fun, and the audio and video transfer simply can’t be beat. This is one of those movies that looks best in 4K, but if you want that comic…you’ve gotta go fast!