‘Lightyear’ sputters upon liftoff in Pixars new Buzz Lightyear movie | Space
disney/pixar’s highly anticipated “light year” hit theaters this weekend, and while this spin-off prequel to the iconic “toy story” empire should have been a smashing success, the event film is billed as a stiff piece. of corporate entertainment that lacks heart and magic.
Pixar’s endearing “Toy Story” quadrilogy, TV specials and shorts have been a beloved part of pop culture ever since their CGI wizardry first crossed screens in 1995, becoming the first animated feature film by world’s computer and spawning a billion-dollar franchise that families around the world have grown up with.
“lightyear” is an ambitious time travel adventure set outside of that cinematic universe in a sense as it describes the actual movie andy saw to make him want a buzz lightyear action figure in the first place, a fact evidenced by the “light year” movie poster taped to her bedroom wall in the original movie.
And if you didn’t know, the introductory text will refresh your memory!
related: ‘beyond infinity’ delves into the story of buzz lightyear in disney plus
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there’s been a lot of fuss about the mcu’s chris evans replacing tim allen in voicing the unsuspecting star command hero but it’s all a bunch of rocket exhaust as this is a different iteration of the character from the line of linked toys that buzz is part of all four “toy story” movies. Also, Chris Evans is a much bigger box office draw than Tim Allen at this stage of the Hollywood game, and the name Captain America on the “Light Year” poster certainly won’t affect her appeal.
the structural problem here lies in preconceived notions of the character based on his swaggering antics in “toy story”, which cannot be translated to form a pleasing identity in this meta-film-within-a-film medium apart from the internal logic itself of the franchise.
Touted as a pg-rated kids’ movie that’s suitable for the whole family, most kids under the age of 10 (which made up more than half of my screening audience) will totally miss the plot points of the time travel and time dilation and sometimes the jokes flop without tonal consistency or esoteric wit.
The plot of “Light Year” features Buzz (Chris Evans) as a famous space ranger in command of Star as he crashes a spherical spaceship onto the hostile world of Tikana Prime 4.2 million light years from Earth. The crew of 1,500 disembarks and builds a habitable colony to survive while Buzz attempts to recreate the hyperspace fuel cells needed to return home through a series of experimental faster-than-light test flights.
Through the concept of time dilation, each failed flight skips four years for everyone except buzz. as he approaches the threshold of hyperspace, he ages much more slowly than colonists whose lives continue at a normal rate. During these time lapses, her commander and friend, Alisha Hawthorne (Uzo Aduba), gets married, has a son, and then a granddaughter. More than sixty years later, Buzz’s robot-cat named Sox (Peter Sohn) discovers the correct formula for fuel stabilization, but now so many decades have passed that no one wants to leave Tikana Prime.
Buzz disobeys orders from the new commanding officer and steals the XL-15 space plane which takes him 22 years into the future where Emperor Zurg and his robotic invasion force have now attacked the planet. The former space ranger must team up with Alisha Hawthorne’s adult granddaughter, Izzy (Keke Palmer), and her two cadet friends, Mo Morrison (Taika Waititi) and Darby Steel (Dale Soules), to stop the evil Zurg (James Brolin). and his intimidating robots to liberate the colony.
there is no denying that the technical aspects of “light year” are top notch, proving beyond infinity that pixar remains the stellar standard in cgi animation and will be for decades to come. The views of outer space, roaring rockets, alien spaceships, and invading Zurg robots are impressive and imaginative. ingested as pure science fiction, it is highly addictive.
academy award winner michael giacchino (“dune,” “the batman”) provides a wonderful score to add to his many pixar soundtracks including “the incredibles” and “up,” and helmer angus maclane (“finding dory”) provides strong directing skills and a propulsive pacing.
But watching nearly 100 minutes go by in this “toy story”-related flick, I was bound to feel some charm slipping out of its colorful sci-fi globe. the story felt sadly redundant and derivative at times, pieced together from other, better films. For that he blamed the inert script by Angus Maclane, Matthew Aldrich and Jason Headley, and in part a misguided sense of Disney accountants pawning this film as part of the “Toy Story” legacy for financial gain.
until the third act, when a wtf twist revolving around zurg is revealed and the audience is left dumbfounded trying to figure out what warping mechanism of time and space this plot choice stems from, and bored toddlers roam the parents. -minus dark theater, this was a proper spin-off, albeit stripped of its trademark Pixar humor and fancy jokes. but this bizarre reveal should have been cut while it was still in the writers room, if not out of sheer logic, then at least to maintain continuity between the rumor and the zurg that occurred in the previous films.
“lightyear” is beautiful to look at, but it feels a bit generic in a modern world of entertainment offerings where epic sci-fi and fantasy projects are now crowned kings. It’s a movie that revels in its mediocrity and never quite reaches the creative orbit, and that’s a shame considering how well-loved Buzz Lightyear’s character is and all of his fantastic foibles. (Think about it, it even has its own theme park at Disneyland and Disney World!)
The conundrum here is what to do when a sentient toy is more interesting than the actual source character. we’ll let the wisdom of the universe solve that tricky question.
Where we would have loved to see a movie centered around the golden age of Star Command and its daring space rangers traversing academia and rising to galactic prominence, we’re given a “wibbly wobbly, timey wimey” narrative and deconstruction. of the character that will confuse young children and make adults yearn more than ever for the goofy charisma of old Buzz Lightyear.
Still, if you don’t think too hard about the premise and follow it up with popcorn and a frozen drink, it might be a proper summer diversion for you to enjoy.
And yes, there are three hilarious post-credits scenes worth watching!
Disney/Pixar’s “Lightyear” is now playing in theaters nationwide.
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