The Movie Guru: ‘Sonic the Hedgehog 2’ and ‘Ambulance’ have appeal, but ‘Everything Everywhere All at Once’ is magic
‘Sonic the Hedgehog 2’ and ‘Ambulance’ get two and a half stars; ‘Everything Everywhere All at Once’ gets four stars
The Movie Guru
Sonic the Hedgehog 2 (in theaters)
If you liked the first movie, you’ll like this one.
The sequel expands on the surprisingly entertaining world introduced in the first film, adding more characters familiar to game fans and making the plot more complicated. It also builds on the lighthearted, energetic feel of the first movie, offering up fun for both game fans and non-game fans alike.
For those who missed the first movie, Sonic is a super-speedy hedgehog from another world who teamed up with a human (James Marsden) to defeat a mad scientist (Jim Carrey). The mad scientist returns in the new movie, along with Sonic’s ancient enemy and an unexpected friend.
Though it takes a second to get over the fact that you’re hearing Idris Elba’s voice coming out of a hedgehog, it’s easy to get swept along in the adventure. There’s a lot of payoff for fans of the games, but fans of the “CGI creature runs around the human world” genre will enjoy themselves as well. It’s not a masterpiece, but it’s better than it has any right to be.
Ambulance (in theaters)
Turns out Michael Bay makes better movies when you hide his CGI.
Proof of that can be found in “Ambulance,” easily the best movie Bay’s made in years. A tense ride through the streets of L.A., the movie balances Bay’s love of crashes and explosions with a genuinely tense, involving story that delivers on the thrills. Even with far too many drone shots and cinematography that can occasionally leave you queasy, it’s hard to stop watching.
The movie, which follows two brothers who steal an ambulance after a robbery gone wrong, has some decidedly grim moments. Surprisingly, there are also a few wonderfully light moments, and though they don’t change the tone of the movie they provide some necessary tension relief.
Jake Gyllenhaal is fantastic as one of the brothers, magnetic enough that he’s the most interesting thing onscreen. Though the rest of the movie doesn’t quite hit his level, it’s so much better than the CGI would have been.
Everything Everywhere All at Once (in theaters)
It’s the strangest movie I’ve ever seen, but also the most beautifully hopeful.
It’s a sci-fi epic involving dimension-hopping and saving the universe. It’s a comedy involving a universe with hot dogs for fingers and the one true everything bagel. It’s a family drama involving a woman dealing with her past and her relationship with her husband and daughter. It’s a feast for the eyes that’s occasionally confusing but always delightful. On every level, it’s a story about love.
If you could understand the characters moving through the different dream levels in “Inception,” you can understand this movie. In the first act, the characters connect to the versions of themselves in the different universes. In the second act and beyond, Michelle Yeoh and another important character experience all the different universes at the same time.
Even if you can’t, let the great acting and epically constructed sorry carry you along for a ride that you’ll understand with your heart even if you miss something in the plot. You won’t regret it.
Jenniffer Wardell is an award-winning movie critic and member of the Denver Film Critics Society. Find her on Twitter at @wardellwriter or drop her a line at email@example.com.