As you will be reminded at the beginning of Lightyear, the Buzz Lightyear action figure from the Toy Story films was based on the lead character from young Andy’s favorite movie, and this new film is that movie. (Don’t break the space-time continuum of your mind by trying to figure out when Lightyear might have been in theaters in Toy Story time.)
Pixar and Disney have definitely made an origin movie worthy of the Buzz Lightyear character. It’s a galaxy of fun and a great science-fiction/fantasy film in its own right, completely independent of the also awesome Toy Story stories.
Buzz (Chris Evans) and his Space Ranger partner Alisha (Uzo Aduba) investigate a strange planet they’ve encountered, and while making an emergency escape Buzz crashes their spacecraft leaving the Rangers and the crew stranded on a hostile world.
Buzz is distraught by his mistake, but the marooned explorers pull together to protect themselves while also looking for an alternative fuel source that will help them to return home. The hero spends years testing fuel combinations, trying to reach warp-speed, but while each test takes only minutes to complete, his friends are aging multiple years in real time.
For me, the film dragged and I was starting to lose hope for it up until Buzz actually achieves warp-speed, and then it picks up pace and turns into a fully satisfying and exciting adventure. The evil Zurg (James Brolin) and his robots try to steal the life-saving fuel source, while Buzz and his team, Izzy (Keke Palmer), Mo (Taika Waititi) and Darby (Dale Soules) fight for their survival.
Also along for the ride is Buzz’s robotic emotional-support cat, SOX. At first, I thought this was extremely dumb and simply a marketing character added for the kids and to help sell more toys (and it may be that), but I came to really get a kick out of this odd, talking cat. (They got me! Dang it!)
The biggest star of LIghtyear is the animation itself. Pixar continuously ups their game in every outing and the world they create here will leave you in awe. It has me super-excited for Disney’s upcoming Strange World film. (Although, these days I’m not sure where one makes the distinction between a Disney animated film and a Pixar animated film.)
Despite its slow start, stick with Lightyear and you’ll be getting your ‘Buzz’ on before you know it. I can’t wait to see the Woody western story.