Jeff Fowler: “Knuckles is a bit anti-Sonic! “

A supersonic Hedgehog in superhero, the arrival of Knuckles, confirmed Tails and magical emeralds in every corner … first info on Sonic 2 by the director.

The challenge seemed daunting: to make Sega’s mascot the hero of a real movie. Two years ago, the first Sonic Transformed the Supersonic Hedgehog is a rowdy teenage fan of jokes. The universe of the game was taken literally (to the delight of the fans) and Jim Carrey (as a super-villain) turned the film into schoolboy delirium. Result: phenomenal success. Two years later, we take the same ones and start over. Sonic 2 adds all the same two key characters of the video game franchise, Tails and Knuckles, and pulls out the muscles by broadening its cinema ambition. While the trailer has just fallen, we take stock with the director, Jeff Fowler.

The foreground of the trailer shows Sonic vigilant. So he has become a superhero who protects the city? Batman Sonic?

The film begins where the first one ended. At the end of the previous one, Sonic finally had the mastery of his powers and he ended in a heroic gesture by sending Robotnik waltz to the other end of the universe, on the mushroom planet! There, we see him having fun with his powers, doing cool stuff, racing through the streets of the city … But as the trailer suggests – with the meeting between Sonic and James Mardsen – maybe he will. too quickly at work. He needs to get used to these powers a bit. And especially that he grows! This is where we start.

This intro, this shot of Sonic at the top of the building, looking at the streets of the city, it’s also a direct reference to the introduction of Sonic Adventure, isn’t it?

Ah ah… Not specifically… The intro took place in broad daylight, and was not so “dark”. Here, it’s Sonic playing the superhero, testing his speed. It’s like a teenager making movies. But it’s true that we wanted to put easter eggs in the film, references to the games, just to please the fans.

THE OPENING OF SONIC ADVENTURE

Exactly, Sonic’s fanbase is one of the most powerful. You saw it in the first movie when you chose to change Sonic’s design after the initial reactions. How did you deal with this on this new episode?

We were delighted with the reactions to the teasing of Tails in the first film (Sonic’s friend appeared in the final minutes of the movie NDLR). People wanted to see him. And when we showed the trailer, fans seemed super excited about Knuckles’ appearance. The fanbase absolutely adores him, and by including these two characters in Sonic 2, we knew we were going to make them happy. You just had to not miss it (laughs). But beyond that, Tails and Knuckles allowed us to tell a stronger story, with more cinema!

Are you still worried about their reaction?

Since the trailer is online, the reactions are very enthusiastic. I have spent the last twenty four hours on the web. Watching the video reactions of people who discover the film. And that’s great! I was at the studio yesterday with part of the team, and we were looking at people’s comments and we were happy… It’s a really great feeling and it rewards all the work that we have done. Above all, it proves that we weren’t too wrong.

What is the difference between the first and the second Sonic in terms of technology or storytelling?

Sonic 2 is a film that goes further in the adventure. The story is more epic, and as I told you, we bring Knuckles and Tails into the story… But we also wanted to keep what had pleased the public and the fans in the first one. The emotion! From a technological point of view, the special effects have evolved a lot and if Sonic remains Sonic, in terms of design we have been able to improve many details. We made it even more alive, more dynamic. But it was necessary at all costs to prevent technology from taking precedence over the rest.

And in terms of cinema, what were your references?

The great thing about Sonic games is that the mood and genre are constantly changing! There is sci-fi, fantasy, black… We can do anything. We go from town to ruined temples – so how can we not think of Indiana Jones at this moment?

The arrival of Knuckles is also that of Idris Elba …

Yes ! how lucky to have him with us for this film! He’s a very strong actor and he immediately understood how to play Knuckles – he played on the contrast with Sonic. Sonic is funny, speedy, and he talks too much! Knuckles is charismatic, he has a presence. And Idriss Elba captured that thanks to the inflections of his voice alone. His voice has such gravity, such power, it was impressive to see him work!

Fans are gnawing at this: Is Knuckles British, American or Australian?

Ah ah! You will see, we imagined a dialect which belongs to him. We didn’t want to specify anything that could interfere with his performance.

Another subject that divides fans: in the game, Knuckles is not uniformly bad, he sometimes tilts on the right side …

Ah ah. I can’t say anything about it! It was great to have a character like that, who could challenge Sonic with his powers. Robotnik has his drones, his gear, his intelligence, but Knuckles brings different things. He has powers, like Sonic. He is an opponent of his size. Moreover, Sonic seems in bad shape in the trailer …

OK and if not, is it magic emeralds and Angel Island that we see in the trailer?

It is indeed an emerald yes… I would have at least answered one of your questions!

A mystery remains: how to explain the phenomenal success of the first film?

It was a surprise, but the formula is anything but mysterious. It’s a film for kids, but we also tried to open up as much as possible and reach out to everyone. There is humor, action so that all types of audiences are there. And we also wanted the message to be positive. Sonic is an enthusiastic character, who is not afraid of anything, a positive hero. The film was supposed to convey that too… We didn’t know what we were going through (the pandemic, the lockdown), but that message resonated very loudly. The optimism, the positive… That was the most important. And Sonic 2 on this ground takes up the torch.

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