With the anticipated release of Lightyear, the newest entry in the Pixar vault of films, Disney is hoping to lean on nostalgia in making a partially original story for the ages. Using cliches invented for the first Toy Story movie that started it all, a new generation of viewers will be introduced to Buzz Lightyear like they’ve never seen before. But fear not, space rangers, this Buzz Lightyear comes with all of the bells and whistles audiences have grown to love for over 27 years.
Yes, you read that correctly, 27 whole years have passed since the first Toy Story film was released. Over close to three decades of Pixar magic have brought fans to this moment where we get to witness the origin story of Buzz Lightyear, one of Andy’s favorite toys. Except that this Buzz is a fictionalized person in a movie that Andy saw in 1995, sparking his interest in the character, and therefore the toy that it’s modeled after.
Space Ranger Buzz Lightyear (Chris Evans) is marooned on a strange planet with his trusty counterpart, Alisha Hawthorne (Uzo Aduba). Buzz spends years trying to find a solution to reach hyperspeed, which would in turn help his crew leave their new planet and return home. This “mission” he attempts, over and over and over again, is a failed attempt at best. At worst, Buzz keeps returning from his failed missions to all of his friends and fellow space rangers growing older, while Buzz stays the same age.
Confused yet? Don’t worry, we still have the theory of relativity, death, destruction, and marriage to get through. And the movie’s only been on for twenty minutes.
If these themes don’t scream “kids movie,” then I don’t know what does. Lightyear is a convoluted undertaking by Pixar that results in confusing storylines, time jumps, and characters that are seemingly left undeveloped. With plot holes abound, it’s an overly complicated presentation surrounding a beloved character that deserved a better origin story. Even the introduction of the antagonist, the ever present Zurg, is a detailed and complex juxtaposition that will undoubtedly confuse parents and children alike.
But for all of its faults, Lightyear has heart, which is why we go to see Pixar movies in the first place. The animation is absolutely top notch and the character of SOX (Peter Sohn) is a much needed comedic sidekick. Like the C-3PO and R2-D2 toys we all grew up with, it would have been very appropriate for Andy to have had a toy version of SOX, if only the animators could go back and add him in.
Despite the sweetness of the movie, at its core, the film fails due in large part because Andy would have never wanted this version of Buzz Lightyear in toy form after watching this movie. It seems Buzz is always fighting himself, which makes him an unlikable character in a movie that should have demanded honor in one’s ability to always do the right thing. I wish I could have yelled out, “To infinity and beyond!” after the movie, but alas, infinity will have to wait.
Ticket rating: Ticket rating: 🎟🎟1/2