Here's why Sonic the Hedgehog's live-action movie design hasn't been as well received as the Pokémon populating the world of Detective Pikachu. The initial posters for the upcoming live-action Sonic the Hedgehog movie have attracted plenty of negative reaction online. The two images, one of Sonic shrouded in darkness and the other showing the hedgehog's legs resting on the Golden Gate bridge, have been accused of having little in common with the character's original design, showing an overly buffed-up humanoid mutation of the blue speedster and of being just a little bit creepy.

The new Sonic has yet to be officially unveiled in full, but a third image posted on Reddit reportedly shows an early concept design (also featuring Chris Pratt, who was ultimately not cast) and this too has failed to generate excitement for the project. Arguably, Sonic the Hedgehog was perhaps always going experience a tricky transition to live-action. Not only do game-to-movie adaptations rarely fare well, but molding a beloved video game character into a fully realized CGI creation that works in a real life setting sounds like an impossible task.

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Not quite impossible, as it turns out. Pokémon fans didn't exactly know what to expect from the Ryan Reynolds-fronted Detective Pikachu and, on paper at least, it seemed an odd decision to base the first live-action Pokémon movie on a relatively niche spinoff game. But when the movie's first trailer arrived last month, the reaction was immediately and unanimously positive, particularly with regards to the look of Pikachu and his fellow pocket monsters.

Both Sonic and Pokémon are beloved video game franchises looking to break into the world of live-action cinema by bringing their characters to life using CGI, but one has been praised far more readily than the other. Here's why Detective Pikachu's Pokémon designs look better than Sonic the Hedgehog.

How Detective Pikachu Has Made Pokémon Live-Action

Many Pokémon were showcased in the Detective Pikachu trailer and every single one of them was instantly recognizable, from Psyduck and his dopey facial expression to Jigglypuff's Superman-esque hair curl. There doesn't appear to have been any significant effort to change the core design of these creatures, other than to add texture (fur, feathers, scales and the like) or bring the monsters slightly closer in style to the real-life animals they're based on.

Focusing specifically on Pikachu himself, all of the recognizable features are present: the lightning bolt tail, the rosy red cheeks and the floppy long ears. Of course, the fur is more obvious than previous representations and the cartoonishness of the eyes has been toned down but, essentially, Detective Pikachu is the Pikachu fans remember.

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Detective Pikachu's critters appear largely animalistic in nature but there also has to be some level of human personality present, especially with Pikachu. Judging from the trailer footage, these aspects are achieved by facial expressions, movement and Ryan Reynolds' vocal performance - an approach that has proved effective in recent cinematic history. Rocket Raccoon from Guardians of the Galaxy and Paddington's titular bear are both animal characters that needed to present human emotions, but rather than redesign them to look more human, both characters utilized a combination a speech and movement to get across their anthropomorphic elements. Detective Pikachu has used a similar method and looks to be enjoying a similar level of acclaim.

How Sonic Has Moved To Live-Action

Compared to Detective Pikachu, the Sonic the Hedgehog movie appears to be doing things very differently. It's important to take into consideration that fans haven't seen as much of the new Sonic as they have of Ryan Reynolds' electric rodent, with only two posters and an image of unconfirmed origin to work from. This hasn't prevented a barrage of negative comments being aimed at Paramount's design however, with the most frequent critique simply that live-action Sonic doesn't really resemble the classic character that people know and love.

In fairness, Sonic was always at somewhat of a disadvantage being an animal/human hybrid. Whereas most Pokémon are essentially just dangerous and more colorful versions of real animals, Sonic's basic design mixes animal and humanoid elements, which makes a transition to live-action far more challenging. But while Detective Pikachu's approach placed more focus on each creature's beast-like qualities, it's Sonic's human features that are being accentuated in the new design, and this is the primary source of the criticism.

Whether it be the long muscular legs, the slender human hands or the man-like stance, Sonic the Hedgehog fans clearly aren't identifying with the live-action design. While a true-to-life approach was obviously out of the question - a blue hedgehog crawling on all-fours into a busy road is nobody's idea of a good film - making Sonic more human has alienated a large part of the fanbase. Surely, there was a happy medium to be found between the above scenario and the actual design.

Page 2 of 2: Why Detective Pikachu Is A Better Live-Action Design

Why The Pokémon Look Better Than Sonic

It could be said that the Pokémon franchise as a concept lends itself more naturally to the realm of live action than Sonic the Hedgehog does. Almost every Pokémon story takes place within the setting of a human world; there are regular people, shops, services and criminals - everything that fans can identify with as a familiar environment, only rather than cats, dogs and goldfish, these people keep fire-breathing lizards and sentient piles of purple goop.

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Pokémon are ingrained into the human world at their core and, as the years have passed since the black and white pixelated days of the original Game Boy, this has become ever more apparent. Pokémon Go encourages gamers to experience catching their favorite monsters right in front of them via the use of a smartphone camera, while the Nintendo Switch's Let's Go offers a 3D re-imagining of the Kanto experience. Both titles brought the world of Pokémon closer to real life and Detective Pikachu is the next step in this evolution, using CGI to combine the fantastical creatures with real actors.

The situation is very different for Sonic the Hedgehog. In its early incarnation, Sonic was always very much an inhabitant of his own fictional universe, a world of endless booby traps, trippy bonus stages and factories with absolutely no regard for health and safety regulations. This works perfectly for a video game series, or indeed in animated form, but there's very little that fans can identify with as being part of the real world and, consequently, crafting a live-action Sonic was always going to a harder task than live-action Pokémon.

Detective Pikachu Is More Faithful To The Games' Idea

As a general rule of thumb, any sort of adaptation tends to enjoy more success and a better reception from fans when it faithfully captures the feeling of the source material it is based on. While it's far too early to say that the live-action Sonic movie deviates wildly from the spirit of the games, the early indications are not particularly positive and it might be fair to say that even before the recent poster reveal, there was little in the way of excitement surrounding this project.

It has been confirmed that the Sonic the Hedgehog movie will see the titular mammal join forces with a police officer played by James Marsden to take down Jim Carrey's Robotnik. Clearly, this melding of the Sonic world with real life is not something taken from the original games and while, to be fair, those games didn't exactly have a story worth making a movie about, it still drives the live-action production further away from what fans know and love.

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Once again, Detective Pikachu has taken a different route. For starters, the movie does seem directly inspired by the 3DS title of the same name. Casual fans might not have played that particular game but, fortunately, the trailer for Detective Pikachu presented a Pokémon experience similar to that of both the main video game series and the popular anime. The world shared between people and Pokémon, the battle tournaments, the young protagonist setting out on an adventure with an unusual Pikachu. The basic ingredients are the same and the respective designs of these characters contribute massively to that feel of authenticity.


With release scheduled for November 2019, there is plenty of time for improvements to Sonic's design, as Paramount is clearly aware of the backlash. It's also possible that as fans learn more about the film and see more of Sonic's final design, a sense of positivity will begin to grow around the live-action Sonic the Hedgehog movie. It would hardly be the first time that a movie has attracted criticism prior to release, only to eventually prove its detractors wrong. As far as first impressions go however, it's impossible to say that Detective Pikachu hasn't received a better reaction.

While this may have been due to being more recognizable, authentic and integrated with the human world, the fact that the first time fans saw live-action Pikachu was in a full-length trailer may also be significant, as it allowed the character's humor, personality and animation to shine through. Had Paramount employed the same tactic, rather than showing pieces of Sonic's design in poster images, perhaps the result would've been different.

Next: Detective Pikachu Movie Trailer, Cast, Every Update You Need To Know

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