Critics Consensus

Sonic the Hedgehog Is Familiar but Fine Family Fun

Plus, The Photograph is soulful if slow, Downhill is disappointing, Potrait of a Lady on Fire and Ordinary Love are Certified Fresh, and guess Fantasy Island's Tomatometer.

by | February 13, 2020 | Comments

This week at the movies, we’ve got a blue speedster (Sonic the Hedgehog, starring James Marsden and the voice of Ben Schwartz), a budding romance (The Photograph, starring Issa Rae and the voice of LaKeith Stanfield), a fateful fight-or-flight fiasco (Downhill, starring Will Ferrell and Julia Louis-Dreyfus), and a dangerous getaway (Fantasy Island, starring Lucy Hale and Michael Peña). What are the critics saying?


Sonic the Hedgehog (2020) 63%

Over the course of the past couple decades and change, movies based on video games have earned a reputation as subpar entertainment, to be generous. Critically speaking, things trended a bit upward in 2018 with Rampage (51%) and the Tomb Raider reboot (52%), and 2019 saw the genre’s first two Fresh entries in Pokémon: Detective Pikachu (69%) and The Angry Birds Movie 2 (73%), which currently sit at #2 and #1, respectively, on our list of all video game movies ranked. With that context in mind, we come to 2020 and Sonic the Hedgehog, an animated/live-action hybrid adventure in which the titular Sega hero (voiced by Ben Schwartz) travels to Earth from his home planet, befriends a local sheriff (James Marsden), and attempts evade capture by the nefarious Dr. Robotnik (Jim Carrey), who hopes to harness Sonic’s power for evil. The film endured a minor controversy when its first trailer premiered and longtime fans cried foul at Sonic’s subtly creepy character design, but after the folks behind the film pushed its release date back and reworked the visuals, most moviegoers seemed optimistic. As it turns out, those moviegoers weren’t entirely misguided, as critics say Sonic the Hedgehog is mostly wholesome family fun, with a lively performance from Carrey that harkens back to his 1990s heyday. The jokes may not all land, but there are a lot of them that come at you, and while the rest of the film largely caters to a younger audience, there’s enough in there for adults to ensure a trip to the theater won’t be entirely mind-numbing.


The Photograph (2020) 75%

Being that Friday is Valentine’s Day, it’s only appropriate that at least one of the big releases is a romance. This year, that romance is The Photograph, which stars Issa Rae as Mae, a museum curator whose estranged photographer mother suddenly dies, leaving clues to her storied life behind for her daughter. As Mae begins to pick up the pieces, a journalist named Michael (LaKeith Stanfield) shows up looking to write a story about her mother, and the two of them find they share an undeniable connection. Critics say The Photograph, which cuts between Mae’s relationship with Michael and her mother’s own love story in the past, is a quiet, soulful romance that explores the ways in which one generation’s decisions can echo into the next. While Rae and Stanfield are arguably better known for their comedic work, the reviews point out their easy chemistry as dramatic leads, with a solid supporting cast — which includes Lil Rel Howery, Teyonah Paris, and Chelsea Peretti — helping to flesh out the narrative. Some may find the film a tad languid for their tastes, and the storytelling may not be quite clever enough to offer many surprises, but The Photograph rests on the strength of its stars, who all do admirable work.


Downhill (2020) 37%

On the flipside of The Photograph, we have Downhill, which charts the steady breakdown of a marriage after a near tragedy. Said couple is played by Will Ferrell and Julia Louis-Dreyfus, who play Pete and Billie Staunton, an American couple with two kids who travel to Europe for an Alpine ski vacation. When a controlled avalanche set off by the resort induces a momentary panic, Pete flees the scene and abandons his family, causing a rift between him and Billie that forces them to reexamine their relationship. Directed and adapted by Nat Faxon and Jim Rash (The Way Way Back), Downhill is an English-language remake of the 2014 Swedish dark comedy Force Majeure, and critics say what could and should have been a fantastic reinterpretation is merely a pale imitation of its predecessor. While Ferrell and Louis-Dreyfus have proven in the past that they can handle subtler material, reviews say Ferrell’s character in particular seems to have lost the edge that made his existential dilemma in the original film so palpable, and the overall softening of the themes at play undermines the satire at its core. In the end, Downhill is a safer, watered-down rendition of the story, neither as darkly funny nor as poignantly subversive as its Swedish counterpart, and it’s likely to go down as something of a missed opportunity.


Fantasy Island (2020) 7%

For anyone too young to remember, Fantasy Island began as a television series that ran from 1977 to 1984, centering around a mystical vacation destination where visitors could live out their fantasies… for a price. The proprietor of the island, one mysterious Mr. Roarke (played by Ricardo Montalbán), mostly used the fantasies as a means of teaching his guests valuable moral lessons, and while the admittedly Faustian premise rarely turned deadly, there was often a hint of menace in its Twilight Zone-esque storylines. All of that said, leave it to Blumhouse to take that premise and put a horror spin on it in this week’s Fantasy Island, in which Michael Peña’s Mr. Roarke plays host to a group of young visitors who get a lot more than they bargained for when they disembark “ze plane” in hopes of fulfilling their wildest fantasies. Things don’t quite work out according to plan, of course, and their jaunty, indulgent adventures quickly take a turn for the horrific. We’d love to tell you what the critics thought of Fantasy Island, but reviews won’t start pouring in until Friday morning, so in the meantime, guess that Tomatometer.


Also Opening This Week In Limited Release

  • The Rest of Us (2020) , starring Heather Graham in a drama about a woman who connects with her recently deceased ex-husband’s new family, is at 100%.
  • Portrait of a Lady on Fire (Portrait de la jeune fille en feu) (2020) , a period drama about a woman hired to secretly paint the portrait of a reluctant bride, only for the two to fall in love, is Certified Fresh at 98%.
  • VFW (2020) , an action-horror film about a group of veterans at a bar fending off an attack from drug-dealing mutants, is at 95%.
  • After Midnight (Something Else) (2020) , a horror-mystery about a man mourning a recent break-up who is visited by an unseen creature at night, is at 94%.
  • Come As You Are (2020) , a road-trip comedy about a trio of young disabled men who make a run to Canada to visit a brothel that caters to special needs, is at 94%.
  • Ordinary Love (2020) , starring Liam Neeson and Lesley Manville in a drama about an aging couple dealing with the wife’s breast cancer diagnosis, is Certified Fresh at 92%.
  • The Cordillera of Dreams (La cordillera de los sueños) (2020) , a documentary rumination on the Andes mountains and their influence on the culture and history of Chile, is at 85%.
  • I Was at Home, But... (Ich war zuhause, aber...) (2020) , a non-linear drama about a woman struggling with life and her relationship to her teenage son after the death of her husband, is at 83%.
  • A Simple Wedding (2020) , a romantic comedy about a young Iranian-American woman who falls for a DJ and struggles against her disapproving family’s traditional views, is at 78%.
  • Buffaloed (2020) , starring Zoey Deutch in a comedy about a teen who hatches a sketchy plan to pay for her college tuition, is at 72%.
  • Olympic Dreams (2020) , a romantic comedy about an Olympic cross-country skier who falls in love with a dentist, is at 64%.
  • The Times of Bill Cunningham (2020) , a documentary profile of the titular photographer’s remarkable life, is at 60%.
  • The Kindness of Strangers (2020) , an ensemble drama about six struggling people in New York City whose lives intersect, is at 14%.

Like this? Subscribe to our newsletter and get more features, news, and guides in your inbox every week.

Tag Cloud

christmas movies El Rey king kong festivals Crackle Bravo mission: impossible NBC Winter TV sitcom children's TV breaking bad 72 Emmy Awards 2016 Classic Film worst The Purge documentary trailers TV biography parents HBO Disney+ Disney Plus VH1 boxoffice politics MSNBC Spike Holiday kaiju universal monsters dramedy Netflix Christmas movies Podcast chucky ratings 2020 SXSW Paramount Plus First Reviews ABC Signature Spectrum Originals festival RT21 archives diversity mutant HBO Go TNT Mystery sag awards prank Quiz robots Comedy Central Avengers Sundance 2015 007 Sony Pictures kids cops twilight emmy awards die hard Hallmark Christmas movies halloween tv comic Syfy scorecard Logo golden globes 2021 24 frames remakes E! movies Interview Captain marvel Britbox CBS All Access classics hist technology deadpool based on movie Pixar Lucasfilm DC streaming service doctor who cooking independent spanish Action GIFs comedies Marvel Studios IFC Mary Tyler Moore book adaptation fresh Toys Rock spain directors canceled live action Pop TV Acorn TV Apple TV Plus razzies Ellie Kemper TCA Winter 2020 cancelled television television DGA Tumblr reviews Horror discovery WarnerMedia best TV Land Television Academy VICE The Walking Dead DC Universe Lionsgate Animation screenings asian-american Watching Series Star Wars FX on Hulu Shudder scary movies new york Ovation science fiction nfl Turner rom-coms police drama Black History Month Marathons ESPN cancelled TV shows GLAAD marvel cinematic universe American Society of Cinematographers Funimation elevated horror justice league blockbuster thriller Mindy Kaling Pet Sematary crossover YouTube Red Superheroe NYCC Oscars toronto composers Mudbound BAFTA free movies screen actors guild Film indiana jones heist movie Infographic Winners revenge batman international name the review Video Games quibi Extras Nat Geo Biopics The Witch Discovery Channel social media richard e. Grant Shondaland Certified Fresh comics TIFF Summer Trailer rt archives supernatural Nickelodeon The Academy See It Skip It 78th Annual Golden Globe Awards Legendary Opinion BET Peacock stoner Superheroes SDCC south america casting 20th Century Fox nbcuniversal theme song A24 zombie Broadway ITV dc ghosts sports news A&E Binge Guide TCA Awards venice TV One BBC BET Awards Box Office X-Men sequel Cosplay ABC comic books jurassic park Countdown renewed TV shows Columbia Pictures Pirates vampires Masterpiece nature ABC Family romantic comedy Marvel Television boxing zero dark thirty FOX CW Seed 21st Century Fox Country joker National Geographic Walt Disney Pictures Brie Larson Fall TV Apple TV+ Trophy Talk AMC 71st Emmy Awards psycho Cannes Sundance TV spinoff cartoon scene in color DirecTV San Diego Comic-Con Rom-Com space Fox News Freeform SundanceTV disaster 99% Election Best and Worst blockbusters unscripted book Tarantino Paramount Reality Competition GoT Awards target natural history Disney Channel Hallmark french cults golden globe awards Food Network series Arrowverse Black Mirror PlayStation binge stop motion Ghostbusters CNN laika Chernobyl Kids & Family witnail RT History TruTV CMT Chilling Adventures of Sabrina HBO Max pirates of the caribbean crime women monster movies obituary popular australia spanish language what to watch 4/20 crime thriller spy thriller Thanksgiving Pacific Islander Pop docuseries dceu Trivia romance japanese ViacomCBS Red Carpet Holidays halloween talk show Schedule Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt President Mary Poppins Returns Disney adventure Nominations Emmys Vudu serial killer video on demand Grammys Exclusive Video zombies latino political drama historical drama movie Western satire versus Lifetime Stephen King Netflix toy story true crime football TLC Pride Month tv talk Song of Ice and Fire sequels Musicals 45 Elton John Tomatazos franchise Rocketman facebook miniseries FXX Disney streaming service know your critic New York Comic Con high school travel Calendar harry potter adaptation animated Teen Television Critics Association dogs anthology The Walt Disney Company BBC One Sundance Now Musical Comic Book anime TV renewals cancelled TV series First Look game of thrones Paramount Network Character Guide comiccon period drama Travel Channel MTV Lifetime Christmas movies mockumentary indie DC Comics Esquire YouTube Premium PBS USA Network Hulu Cartoon Network YouTube kong documentaries Amazon Prime Video TBS superhero rotten movies we love Fantasy Film Festival Amazon Prime streaming reboot war Sneak Peek italian Adult Swim Crunchyroll Sci-Fi critics a nightmare on elm street The Arrangement PaleyFest OWN worst movies telelvision Tubi Warner Bros. aapi CBS singing competition Spring TV MCU Creative Arts Emmys aliens Set visit cinemax 2019 dragons Amazon cancelled psychological thriller TCA hispanic OneApp docudrama dark werewolf Music Year in Review Dark Horse Comics Valentine's Day Fox Searchlight fast and furious Christmas Apple Comedy blaxploitation jamie lee curtis video game show Comics on TV 93rd Oscars hollywood Epix IFC Films award winner History Showtime films all-time Reality Amazon Studios Marvel strong female leads criterion Writers Guild of America lord of the rings green book concert Star Trek Heroines FX Martial Arts cars Universal canceled TV shows slashers james bond VOD Image Comics Starz ID black foreign The CW stand-up comedy Women's History Month WGN finale E3 APB Rocky Anna Paquin 2017 Photos TCM superman Super Bowl Drama Turner Classic Movies Baby Yoda Academy Awards saw Emmy Nominations spider-man godzilla YA 2018 new zealand Mary poppins BBC America rotten teaser USA Awards Tour Endgame Hear Us Out Alien LGBT crime drama child's play new star wars movies cats Premiere Dates Polls and Games Family TCA 2017 Disney Plus medical drama hidden camera LGBTQ transformers