Originally released by Studio Pierrot in Japan as a two-part OVA, Sonic the Hedgehog the Movie was released in 1996. It was dubbed into English via the now-defunct ADV Films in 1999 as a way to promote Sonic Adventure for SEGA Dreamcast.
On Planet Freedom, the world is split between two dimensions, the Land of the Sky, where the people are free, and the Land of Darkness, where robots control. Dr. Robotnik (Edwin Neal) holds the Land of the Sky President (also Edwin Neal) and his daughter Sarah (Sascha Biesi) hostage. When Sonic (Martin Burke) and Tails (Lainie Frasier) arrive after hearing from the messenger Old Man Owl (Charles Campbell), Robotnik tells him that another version of himself “Metal Robotnik” has taken over his base of Robotropolis in the Land of Darkness and rigged the power core to explode. Sonic and Tails take their airplane Tornado down and run into Metal Robotnik. They are almost killed but are rescued by the treasure hunting Knuckles (Bill Wise). They arrive in the city and stop the core from exploding, only for Sonic to be trapped, scanned, and injured. It turns out, Robotnik has created a robotic clone of Sonic called Hyper Metal Sonic (Gary Dehan). With this new nemesis, Robotnik sets his sights on kidnapping Sarah and conquering the Land of the Sky.
Like Archie Comics, this OVA takes a whole new story-arc from both the TV shows running out at the time and the video games. It was a major departure, with no mention of Power Rings, Chaos Emeralds, or Knuckles’ job as the guardian of Angel Island. I will say, it does do a good job developing its own world through the stories. I did find myself chuckling at the “ancient ruins” that resembles a city from the nineties that has been destroyed.
As for the animation, it is somewhat basic and nothing stands out, with the exception of Hyper Metal Sonic. His design is very sleek and it clear that the artists wanted their antagonist to seem threatening and intimidating to the viewer. Now, I did enjoy the final battle in the arctic between Sonic and his robotic counterpart where they go at each other. It also had some cool sequences of Knuckles burrowing to save the Land of the Sky.
As for the voice acting, no one really works other than Bill Wise who voices Knuckles. His voice really captured the character. That is not to say that the others were bad, they just did not stand out. While Martin Burke did a decent job, he lacks the sense of adventure from Jason Griffith, the “cool dude with the attitude” persona carried by Jaleel White, or the wittiness of Ben Schwartz.
Bottom line, as a kid, I watched this movie over and over so much that I broke the VHS. As an adult, I definitely see its flaws, but enjoy it for what it was and have a good time while watching it.
PARENTAL CONCERNS: Brief innuendo, Violence, Crude humor
FAVORITE QUOTE: Does anyone care that I’m busy?
I had trouble finding a teaser, so here is a clip from the OVA:
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