Genre: CG Animation
Director: Angus MacLane
Cast: Chris Evans, Keke Palmer, Peter Sohn, Taika Waititi, Dale Soules, James Brolin, Uzo Aduba, Mary McDonald- Lewis, Isiah Whitlock Jr., Efren Ramirez, Keira Hairston
Runtime: 1 hr 45 mins
Rating: NC16 (Some Mature Content)
Released By: Walt Disney
Official Website: https://www.facebook.com/PixarsLightyear
Opening Day: 16 June 2022
Synopsis: A sci-fi action adventure and the definitive origin story of Buzz Lightyear, the hero who inspired the toy, “Lightyear” follows the legendary Space Ranger after he’s marooned on a hostile planet 4.2 million light-years from Earth alongside his commander and their crew. As Buzz tries to find a way back home through space and time, he’s joined by a group of ambitious recruits and his charming robot companion cat, Sox. Complicating matters and threatening the mission is the arrival of Zurg, an imposing presence with an army of ruthless robots and a mysterious agenda.
No one faults a Pixar movie. Ever. But the first thing that came to this reviewer’s mind after watching the 26th feature film from the studio was – why didn’t the much more superior productions before this (Pete Doctor’s Soul, Enrico Casarosa’s Luca and Domee Shi’s Turning Red) get a theatrical release? The three titles were screened in cinemas in countries without Disney+, but were released direct to the streaming platform in countries where the service was available.
Then this writer remembered, this spin off of the beloved Toy Story film series, which also serves as an origin story for Buzz Lightyear, features the voice of Chris Evans. And we know getting such a big name on board isn’t going to be cheap. Plus, this is the Toy Story franchise we’re talking about, and you can be sure marketing folks will be going all out to get people to watch the movie on the big screen. In fact, this is the first Pixar film to be filmed in
We aren’t saying that this isn’t a good movie (it’s from Pixar, remember?), because it is a solid animated film that does what it’s supposed to do. The filmmakers set things straight at the beginning of the 105 minute movie. The opening title card reads: “In 1995, a boy named Andy got a Buzz Lightyear toy for his birthday. It was from his favorite movie. This is that movie.”
And then we plunge into a space where we see Buzz Lightyear (Evans) and his partner Alisha Hawthorne (Uzo Aduba) on a special mission for space rangers. No thanks to Buzz’s stubborn personality, an incident happens and everyone is stuck on a hostile planet. Buzz then makes it his responsibility to uncover a mysterious energy source (but of course) that will get the crew off the planet. Things get interesting when we realise every failed attempt to achieve hyperspace (which supposedly takes four minutes) means four years would have passed back on the planet. Are we talking about multiverses in space here?
When Buzz finally succeeds, Alisha has passed on and this is a bittersweet moment we loved. The next segment of the movie sees the space ranger teaming up with a team of rookies. They include Alisha’s granddaughter Izzy Hawthorne (Keke Palmer), a naïve recruit Mo Morrison (Taika Waititi channeling effortless humour) and a paroled convict Darby Steel (Dale Soules). There is also a robotic cat Sox (Peter Sohn) which serves as Buzz’s companion, who is easily the star of the movie – you’d want to own any Sox merchandise, and wonder why Andy didn’t pester his mother to get him one.
The planet is now controlled by a bad guy named Zurg, and we get to find out who he really is towards the end of the movie. While the story tries to inject a twist that sounds conceptually cool, there seems to be something missing, something that has made us love Pixar titles like WALL-E (2008), Up (2009) and Inside Out (2015).
Angus MacLane, who co-directed Finding Dory (2016), directed and co-wrote this technically competent movie, and it features a wonderful score by Michael Giacchino. There are also fun references to the Toy Story movies. But because we have been spoilt by the emotionally relatable films that Pixar has made, we wished this sci fi adventure could have contained more heart and magic.
(Plunge into a space adventure that is entertaining and fun, but could have gone to infinity and beyond if there was a bit more heart and magic)
Review by John Li