A spin-off had to come out sooner or later. Do We Need an Origin Story for Buzz Lightyear’s Character toy story? No. But the Light year Angus MacLane’s film certainly knows how to build a world around the character that we only discovered through the Pixar franchise. The film is about an escape, a failure and a collaboration to achieve a common goal.
Buzz Lightyear (Chris Evans) is an enemy of time. He is a brave but often stubborn man who doesn’t need anyone’s help. This attitude is why, as a Space Ranger, he’s stuck an entire colony on a random planet, and they can’t leave because the Hyperspace Crystal has shattered. They need a new one to go home, so the scientist creates a new one, and he has to test it. He fails on the first try but realizes it when he spends four years in the future. For his efforts, he receives a fellow cat named Sox (Peter Sohn), who works to construct the formula for a new crystal. Buzz can’t accept this loss, so he tries and tries. In his final attempt, he returns to find his best friend, Commander Alisha Hawthorne (Uzo Aduba), has struck up a relationship, got married, had a child, had a grandchild, and grown old.
The ‘Lightyear’ trailer follows the origins of ‘Toy Story’ Space Ranger – ad infinitum and forward!
Now the planet’s inhabitants are trapped in a dome with violent alien robots hovering above and trying to break in. On the outskirts of the dome where Buzz ends up is where he meets Izzy Hawthorne (Keke Palmer), Alisha’s granddaughter, Mo Morrison (Taika Waititi) and Darby Steele (Dale Soules). After all the missed years, Buzz still wants to be a hero, so together with his new friends they try to save people from the impending threat of a robotic apocalypse.
Light year doesn’t rely too heavily on Toy Story lore to build its world, but it would have been beneficial to show a connection to that part of the franchise instead of using title cards. Much like in Toy Story, Buzz finds a way to play well with others regardless of heroism, and his diverse group of companions are often more interesting than him. Izzy, Mo and Darby have their own talents which are useful in getting Buzz out of trouble.
The animation is beautiful and super realistic. Sometimes I couldn’t tell if it was animation or live action. The art department has put everything into designing this universe and its robotic characters and villains. Kids will go crazy for this expansive three-dimensional world featuring one of Disney’s most beloved and best-known heroes. The only problem is that sometimes the story gets convoluted and drags on. Almost like there’s a need to extend the runtime, which caused Lightyear even more problems and created a whole host of endless stomping obstacles that I get is at the heart of every movie, but dang, how many times will the story kick Buzz when he’s down. Hush.
‘Lightyear’ takes off with 30-minute preview at CinemaCon
The film is also Disney’s first real attempt to explicitly portray queer animated characters. Alisha marries a woman in Light year, and the public is witness to it. It’s not explained, shown off-screen, or implied. Actually, that’s not a problem – that’s how it should be described. What’s also unique about what MacLane and co-writer Jason Headly have done here is create well-rounded black characters. No one turns into a frog, a cat or a bird. They are allowed to be. Izzy is presented as a leader and has a well-balanced arc that lends itself to future appearances, and Keke Palmer is so energetic and fun to listen to. It might not be a big deal to some, but seeing someone who looks like me take the reins in one of my favorite movie genres hit me right away.