Sonic The Hedgehog - The Movie

This review is sponsored by

Details At A Glance

Category Anime Theatrical Trailer(s) Yes, 1 - 1.33:1, not 16x9, Dolby Digital 2.0
Rating Other Trailer(s) Yes, 11 - ADV Film releases preview trailers
Year Released 1999 Commentary Tracks None
Running Time
53:52 minutes
(not 60 minutes as stated on packaging) 
Other Extras Character Biographies
Menu Audio and Animation
Scene Selection Audio and Animation
Slide Show
Website Links
RSDL/Flipper No/No
Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region 1,2,3,4,5,6 Director Kazunori Ikegami
ADV Films
Siren Entertainment
Case Amaray
RRP $39.95 Music Mitsuhiro Tada

Pan & Scan/Full Frame Full Frame MPEG None
Widescreen Aspect Ratio No Dolby Digital 2.0
16x9 Enhancement No Soundtrack Languages English (Dolby Digital 2.0, 192 Kb/s)
Japanese (Dolby Digital 2.0, 192 Kb/s)
Theatrical Aspect Ratio 1.33:1
Macrovision ? Smoking No
Subtitles English
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits Yes, during credits

Plot Synopsis

    Well, the poor Region 4 anime enthusiast may yet be seeing an improvement in their lot, thanks to Madman Entertainment and Siren. After something of a dipping the toe in the pond exercise with Tekken - The Motion Picture, a title which must have gone reasonably well enough for them to consider an expanded release of anime titles, they have announced a number of new releases. These comprise this effort and the shortly to be reviewed Sakura Wars and Ninja Resurrection, all from the ADV Films stable. And it does not finish there, for they have indicated that Ghost In The Shell is likely to be released around July. Of course, the fact that the recent releases come from the ADV Films stable provides hope that further titles from this stable will be making their way onto local release sheets. Just for the record, Neon Genesis Evangelion (which has unfortunately suffered a swag of release delays in the United States) comes from ADV Films: now that would be an extremely welcome addition to the local release scene as far as anime fans are concerned, but other possible titles (just to whet the appetite a little even though these are in no way indicated by Madman Entertainment nor Siren as being considered for release) include Battle Angel, Slayers - The Motion Picture and Legend Of Crystania - The Motion Picture. There is reason to believe that anime will be seen a little more in Region 4 in the forthcoming year, and rest assured that we will keep you up to date with titles as they are announced.

    One of the unfortunate aspects of anime, however, is that occasionally it descends into the depths of commercialism gone stark raving mad. Just as Tekken - The Motion Picture was based upon a very popular video game, so this little effort is thus derived. Whilst I am no devotee of the video game genre, even I am not unaware of such things as Sega games, and the fact that Sonic was (and probably still is) one of the biggest franchises in the genre. Accordingly, this suffers from the fact that it would help if you knew the game upon which it was based, and that the story is exceedingly derivative. It is also a sad fact that this is aimed at a fairly young market, which would possibly not be the most promising of demographics for a DVD release - other than the fact that like a slightly more recent release, the kids will quite possibly be pestering you to acquire this.

    The broad story here is that Sonic has his little vacation interrupted by a call to see the president of Planet Freedom. This turns out to be a little ruse by Sonic's arch enemy Dr Robotnik to trick Sonic into heading to the Land of Darkness to save it from an evil Metal Robotnik. Of course, all is not what it seems and it is up to Sonic to work it all out and save the day - as is usual apparently. Along the way he has to overcome the evil Metal Robotnik and a host of traps, including his evil duplicate Hyper Metal Sonic, all with the help of his friends Tails and Knuckles. All of this also happens with the subplot of the president's daughter Sara who also happens, apparently, to have a romantic intent.

    Not exactly the greatest story of all time, but if you switch off the brain, this actually is not a bad way of spending fifty odd minutes. Frequent, repeated viewings however would not be wise, otherwise plot holes and goodness knows what else will start eroding the pleasures somewhat. The animation style is a little mixed with some detailed sequences interspersed with some quite simplistic stuff, but that is probably indicative of the origin of the characters.

Transfer Quality


    In general, the transfer is a good transfer, and there is little to complain about. Note that it is an NTSC format disc and can only be viewed on display devices capable of playing the NTSC signal.

    Obviously this is a made for video effort and the transfer is presented in a Full Frame format, and is not 16x9 enhanced.

    The overall transfer is in general quite sharp and well defined throughout, although there are a few sequences with intended softness which are a little jarring compared to the rest of the film. This is a quite clear transfer and there are no problems at all with low level noise in the transfer. The only real problem is the inherent lack of resolution as a result of the NTSC format.

    The colours are nicely rendered, with some nice, brightish, vibrant colours on offer - although in general not as bright and as vibrant as I was perhaps expecting. The colours are sharp, with no hint of oversaturation and nothing remotely resembling colour bleed.

   One thing that immediately stands out here is that just as with Tekken - The Motion Picture there is nothing much wrong with the transfer as far as MPEG artefacts, film-to-video artefacts nor noticeable film artefacts are concerned. This is a very clean transfer in all respects and in general ADV Films seem to be doing a fine job, on the basis of two discs at least! The only regret is that again this is an NTSC format disc and it would be very interesting to see how much better this would look with the superior resolution of a PAL transfer.


  There are no complaints about the soundtrack either.

  There are two audio tracks on the DVD: an English Dolby Digital 2.0 soundtrack and a Japanese Dolby Digital 2.0 soundtrack. Whilst I am no expert, it sounds as if both soundtracks use the same source material, with the only difference being the addition of the different vocal tracks into the mix. They are that consistent in sound and style. Since my Japanese is non-existent (well, okay I can get goodbye to work), I nonetheless listened to both it and the English soundtrack, although obviously the Japanese soundtrack needed the English subtitles on as well.

  We once again will have the usual apoplexy amongst purists who bemoan the inclusion of the English soundtrack, but that is the great advantage of DVD for anime: you can have it all ways - Japanese with no subtitles, English with no subtitles, Japanese with subtitles or English with subtitles. As is terribly usual, it is interesting to listen to the English soundtrack with the English subtitles on - as once again one is amused by the non-correlation! Even the main protagonist goes by a different name here.

  The dialogue was always clear and easy to understand.

  Naturally the animation suffers from the usual "audio sync" problems.

  The original musical contribution comes from Mitsuhiro Tada and is nothing especially memorable.

  The soundtracks are quite nice efforts, with nothing really too dynamic happening in the sound picture and obviously with nothing from either the surround channels or the bass channel. These are really very stereo sounding efforts and this just occasionally makes you wish for some surround encoding to add a bit of bite to the sound. Still, everything is free from distortion and the overall resultant sound picture is generally quite decent for a straight stereo effort, although the English track is more natural sounding than the Japanese track, although this may of course be cultural bias!


    Another decent package on offer here, other than the fact that the trailers are promotions for VHS tapes and not DVDs - but remember that they do give cause for a little appetite whetting!


    Very similar in style to the previous effort on Tekken - The Motion Picture, quite vibrant and bright with some reasonable audio and animation enhancement.

Theatrical Trailer

    Okay, so technically it is not a theatrical trailer, rather a promotional trailer for (presumably) television. If you already have Tekken - The Motion Picture then you have already seen it. It is presented in a full frame format, non-16x9 enhanced and with Dolby Digital 2.0 sound. Again, whilst playing the trailer the DVD player display shows a "play" message rather than the usual running time.

Other Trailers

    All eleven efforts, which are again promotional trailers presumably for television, are presented in full frame format, not 16x9 enhanced and with Dolby Digital 2.0 sound, except one: Slayers: The Motion Picture, which is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.85:1. The other trailers are: Tekken: The Motion Picture (sensation mix), Legend of Crystania, Queen Emeraldas, Sakura Wars, Battle Angel, Bubblegum Crisis: Tokyo 2040, Burn-Up W, Neon Genesis Evangelion, Ninja Resurrection and Those Who Hunt Elves. At least the duplication with Tekken - The Motion Picture is kept to a minimum. Whilst it is shameless advertising, it is a nice addition to the package. The overall quality is uniformly quite high.

Character Biographies

    I still find these a little unusual, but am starting to think that they may not be a bad idea for inclusion on more DVDs, both anime and live action.

Slide Show

    Actually just eleven stills taken from the film, without annotation and with little purpose really.

Website Links

    For those who read my reviews regularly, you know that I have no time for these additions, and in any case I am unable to pass comment thereon since I do not have access to a DVD ROM. However, I am reliably informed that it is only an automated direct link to the ADV website.

R4 vs R1

    This is identical to the version available in Region 1.


    This is more an appetite whetter rather than some seriously decent anime, but it is quite enjoyable and the overall package is good, with nothing really wrong with the transfer at all. Once again at the price, I would normally have hesitation in recommending it, but it actually compares quite well to the US price of $29.95, especially given the shockingly poor state of the Australian peso.

    A good video transfer.

    A good audio transfer.

    A decent extras package if not entirely DVD orientated.

Ratings (out of 5)


© Ian Morris (have a laugh, check out the bio)
23rd April 2000

Review Equipment
DVD Pioneer DV-515; S-video output
Display Sony Trinitron Wega 84cm. Calibrated with the NTSC DVD version of Video Essentials.
Audio Decoder Built in
Amplification Yamaha RXV-795. Calibrated with the NTSC DVD version of Video Essentials.
Speakers Energy Speakers: centre EXLC; left and right EXLR; and subwoofer ES-12XL