Sonic The Hedgehog Ultra HD Blu-ray Review

After discovering a small, blue, fast hedgehog, a small-town police officer must help him defeat an evil government scientist who wants to do experiments on him. Ralph Potts reviews the Ultra HD Blu-ray release of Sonic the Hedgehog from Paramount Home Entertainment.

The Review at a Glance:
(max score: 5 )

Film:

Extras:

Audio/UHD Video total rating:
( Max score: 100 )

96

Details:

Studio and Year: Paramount – 2019
MPAA Rating: PG
Feature running time: 98 minutes
Genre: Family

Disc Format: BD-66
Encoding: HEVC
Video Aspect: 2.39:1
Resolution: 2160p/24

Audio Format(s): English Dolby Atmos/TrueHD 7.1, French/Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1
Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish, French
Starring: Jim Carrey, James Marsden, Ben Schwartz, Tika Sumpter
Directed by: Jeff Fowler
Music by: Tom Holkenburg
Written by: Pat Casey, John Miller
Region Code: A

Release Date: May 19, 2020

“Try to Keep Up”

Synopsis:

“After discovering a small, blue, fast hedgehog, a small-town police officer must help him defeat an evil government scientist who wants to do experiments on him.” – Paramount Home Entertainment

My Take:

Powered with incredible speed, Sonic the Hedgehog (voiced by Ben Schwartz), aka The Blue Blur, embraces his new home on Earth. That is, until he accidentally knocks out the power grid and sparks the attention of super-uncool evil genius Dr. Robotnik (Jim Carrey). Now it’s super-villain vs. super-sonic in an all-out race across the globe to stop Robotnik from using his unique power for world domination. Sonic teams up with The Donut Lord, aka Sheriff Tom Wachowski (James Marsden), to save the planet.

Sonic the Hedgehog is a film adaptation based on the video game character by Sega. The film combines a mix of live-action, and computer-generated special effects to create the characters/world featured in the story. I remember Sonic the Hedgehog’s video game, not so much for me but, from when my kids were little. To be honest seeing the trailer for this film didn’t leave me hankering to see it.

After sitting down with it I was pleasantly surprised. It seems to remains faithful to the character while adding a sort of contemporary flavor that rarely feels overtly campy. The fish out of water plot works quite well and the storyline is spirited and appropriately deferent. I found it had just the right amount of heartwarming charm while adding the type of adventure and humor that makes for pitch perfect family entertainment. I rather enjoyed the cast, including the voice performance of Ben Schwartz. Jim Carrey really taps into his inner crazy, in a good way. I wouldn’t say that Sonic the Hedgehog is destined to be the next animated film classic but, it’s good natured family fun that makes for an entertaining evening with the kids.

Replay Value: 3.5 Stars

Parental Guide:

The rating is for action, some violence, rude humor and brief mild language.

AUDIO/VIDEO – By The Numbers:
REFERENCE = 92-100/EXCELLENT = 83-91/GOOD = 74-82/AVERAGE = 65-73/BELOW AVERAGE = under 65

**My audio/video ratings are based upon a comparative made against other high definition media/blu-ray disc.**

UHD Presentation(HDR-10): 96
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)

 

  • HDR: Dark Highlights: 
  • HDR: Bright Highlights: 
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UHD Presentation (Dolby Vision): 96
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)

 

  • HDR: Dark Highlights: 
  • HDR: Bright Highlights: 
  • HDR: Expanded Color: 
  • Resolution: 
  • Visual Impact: 

 

Dolby Atmos Rating: 96
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)

 

  • Level of immersion: 
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  • Entertainment factor: 

 

Sonic The Hedgehog comes to Ultra HD Blu-ray from Paramount Home Entertainment featuring 2160pHEVC encoded video and lossless Dolby Atmos/TrueHD 7.1 channel sound.

For its presentation in Ultra HD Sonic The Hedgehog was rendered from a 3.4K source and finished on a 4K DI.

Sonic The Hedgehog is a fantasy film that is boldly colorful, relying on stylized visuals that employ stark contrast, vivid color and lots of CGI. I found that this Ultra HD rendering makes the most of its elements. The 1080p transfer looks terrific but, this rendering takes it up a notch with a discernible increase in detail, and emboldened highlights, both light and dark. This is readily apparent in the opening sequence where Sonic makes his escape from his home world and comes to Earth. Close ups reveal oodles of fine detail and abounding textures. Wide angle shots and the contrasting cinematography, going from brightly lit exteriors to dark, shadowy sequences look great in Ultra HD.

I found the application of high dynamic range to be spot on and quite complimentary. Some of the best examples of the presentation’s effective use of HDR comes in the finale act during the standoff with Dr. Robotic, beginning in San Francisco and moving to Green Hills. The brilliant color and specular highlights look terrific. The scenes shot at night, or in the low light of dawn or dusk, are equally rewarding, delivering a noticeably dimensional image, with excellent delineation.

While Sonic The Hedgehog looks great on either platform, seeing it in Ultra HD makes for a more involving viewing experience.

Dolby Vision vs HDR-10:

I utilize the TCL 55P607 UHD Dolby Vision HDR flat panel in my review system to enable me to compare the visual quality of titles that contained the Dolby Vision metadata versus its HDR-10 counterpart on the same disc. All titles are first watched via my JVC front projector. I then select specific scenes which are watched on the TCL, first via HDR-10 then via Dolby Vision. The TCL isn’t among the top tier flat panels with DV, however it came recommended by AVS Forum Senior Editor Mark Henninger, and calibrates/performs extremely well for a set at its price point.

* The cumulative A/V score will still be based upon the HDR-10 rating, with the DV rating serving as informational only for now.*

Comparing the DV and HDR10 presentations for Sonic The Hedgehog, I found the HDR renderings to be similar. The title looked solid on both formats with respect to the reproduction of HDR. I felt that the each handled of the finest details in shadows, delineation in specular highlights and, gradations in variants of color equally. You can’t go wrong with either.

Dolby Atmos:

In listening to the Dolby Atmos surround mix I found it to be of the active variety that makes effective use of the platform. The blend of audio objects placed in the height channels is a mix atmospherics and discrete effects. At times this creates a tangible level of 3D immersion that coincides with the onscreen events nicely. The sequence in chapter 4 where Sonic unleashes his energy on the baseball field features the sounds of swirling objects and, airborne debris that utilizes the entire soundstage, making for a great impression of what the soundtrack has to offer. There are both large set pieces and smaller/brief sequences/moments, such as the highway chase and Dr. Robotics arrival at Tom’s house (in chapter 6 – BIG bass moment!), that show off this well-crafted mix.

Everything comes together during the final act’s encounter with Dr. Robotic as sounds rotate and revolve around the soundstage from both above and at ear level. The music score is mixed over the platform so as to add natural depth to its orchestrated elements without drawing attention away from the thematic details of what is transpiring onscreen. I enjoyed the balance of atmosphere, discrete object placement and room energizing bass. I think that it complimented the source material, and made for an entertaining and invigorating listening experience.

For those not familiar with the details regarding Ultra HD Blu-ray you can refer to my article that includes some pertinent data on the subject. Here is the link:

Ultra HD Blu-ray Has Come to AVS Forum Blu-ray Reviews

Blu-ray Video:

Video: 100
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)

 

  • Resolution/Clarity: 
  • Black Level/Shadow Detail: 
  • Color Reproduction: 
  • Fleshtones:
  • Compression: 

 

Audio: 100
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)

 

  • Dynamics: 
  • Low frequency effects: 
  • Surround Sound presentation: 
  • Clarity/Detail: 
  • Dialog Reproduction: 
  • DSU/DTS Neural:X Rating * (non-rated element): NA

 

Sonic The Hedgehog comes to Blu-ray Disc from Paramount Home Entertainment featuring 1080p AVC encoded video and lossless Dolby Atmos/TrueHD 7.1 channel sound.

Colors are effectively used in this film to help set the tone/period setting based upon the mood of the scene. The chroma range isn’t broad and hues can vary from being sullen and inanimate to warm and inviting. Skin tones are appropriately bland with natural highlights and descriptive variation. Images onscreen were exquisitely detailed and sharp with superb depth of field and visible texture during wide angle shots. Contrast is spot on and blacks are deep with revealing delineation that provides excellent perceptibility during scenes shot at night or in lower lighting. The video has a pristine quality that is free of video related artifacts.

The lossless Dolby TrueHD 7.1 (Atmos core) soundtrack has excellent dynamic range, detail rich clarity, and makes ample use of the entire surround platform to drive the film’s elements. The detection of subtle background sounds, off camera cues and spatial dimension within the room’s acoustic environment is noteworthy. The low frequency effects channel is active as the subwoofer works in tandem with the rest of the system to convey the palpably rich bass associated with the action-based sequences. There are two excellent bass “moments” in the film. The first occurs in chapter 4 during the release of the energy surge by Sonic on the baseball field. The second and most powerful occurs during chapter 6 when Dr. Robotic’s tractor trailer rolls up outside of Tom’s house. That one shook the walls in my theater room! Dialog is firmly planted in the center channel and renders voices and effects with appropriate distinction. I enjoyed this audio presentation and thought that it mated well with the source material.

Bonus Features:

  • Disc 1: Sonic the Hedgehog Ultra HD Blu-ray
  • Disc 2: Sonic the Hedgehog Blu-ray
    • Commentary by director Jeff Fowler and the voice of Sonic, Ben Schwartz
    • Around the World in 80 Seconds—See Sonic’s next adventure!
    • Deleted Scenes—Director Jeff Fowler introduces deleted scenes
    • Bloopers—Laugh along with Jim Carrey and the cast
    • “Speed Me Up” Music Video
    • For the Love of Sonic—Jim Carrey and the cast discuss what Sonic the Hedgehog means to them
    • Building Robotnik with Jim Carrey—See Jim Carrey bring supervillain Dr. Robotnik to life
    • The Blue Blur: Origins of Sonic—Explore the origins of the legendary Blue Blur
    • Sonic On Set—Visit the set with the voice of Sonic, Ben Schwartz
  • Digital Code

Final Thoughts:

Sonic the Hedgehog is a film adaptation based on the video game character by Sega. While it isn’t destined for classic film status, I was pleasantly surprised at how much I enjoyed its fish out of water adventure and well played humor. It comes to Blu-ray from Paramount Home Entertainment in the Ultra HD Blu-ray Combo Pack featuring top notch video, engaging lossless surround sound, including a terrific Dolby Atmos listening track and, a fan friendly assortment of extras. Sonic The Hedgehog is loid family entertainment that looks and sounds great on Blu-ray.

 

Ralph Potts
AVS Forum Blu-ray Reviews

Reference Review System:

JVC DLA-RS2000 4K Ultra High Definition Front Projector
(Calibrated with Calman color calibration software and Portrait Displays C6 HDR2000 colorimeter from Portrait.com)
Stewart Filmscreen – Studiotek 130 G3 100” 16×9 Screen
Carada Masquerade Electronic Horizontal Masking System
Marantz AV7704 Audio/Video Processor
Emotiva XPA-7 Gen 3 Seven Channel Amplifier
Emotiva XPA-11 Gen 3 Amplifier
Panasonic DP-UB820 Ultra HD Blu-ray Player
Oppo BDP-203 Ultra HD Blu-ray Player
System Controller: Apple iPad/Roomie Remote V6 Universal Remote Control
SVS Ultra Tower Speakers (Gloss Finish)
SVS Ultra Center Channel (Gloss Finish)
SVS Ultra Surrounds (Gloss Finish in Bipolar Configuration)
Dual SVS PC4000 Cylinder Subwoofers
Niles Audio In-Ceiling/In-Wall Series Speakers
Panamax M5400-PM Power Conditioner/Surge Protector
Wireworld, Better Cables (Silver Serpent) – Audio/Video/Speaker Cabling
AC Infinity Aircom T8 Component Cooling Systems