22nd Jun2022

‘Lightyear’ Review

by Alex Ginnelly

Features the voices of: Chris Evans, Keke Palmer, Peter Sohn, Taika Waititi, Dale Soules, James Brolin, Uzo Aduba, Mary McDonald-Lewis, Isiah Whitlock Jr., Angus MacLane, Bill Hader, Efren Ramirez, Keira Hairston | Written by Angus MacLane, Matthew Aldrich, Jason Headley | Directed by Angus MacLane

Prequels, sequels, and spin-offs are all the major studios seem to be cranking out lately, and now it’s Pixar’s turn. This time we get Lightyear, the film that Andy saw in 1995, the one that made him fall in love with Buzz Lightyear and want nothing more than a Buzz toy for his birthday. I may be wrong, but I’m not sure there’s much here to inspire any child to want a Buzz Lightyear toy, Andy should have just stuck to Woody.

We open with Buzz Lightyear, Space Ranger, as he lands on a new undiscovered planet with his Space Ranger partner, Alisha Hawthorne, and a ship full of cryo sleeping passengers. The first thing we learn about Buzz is his dislike for rookies and his singular belief that he alone can complete his mission. We soon find out however, that he can’t. After a mistake causes his ship to crash, he and his partner are left stranded along with everyone they were meant to help find a new home. Now it’s Buzz’s job to right his wrong and find a way to get everyone home; his only problem is, in trying to do so he travels through time over a hundred years into the future, where he’s met by an army of robots lead by the evil Zurg.

The biggest problem Lightyear has is it doesn’t have any substance behind it. There isn’t a character here to care for or be invested in. Buzz himself lacks any real personality, any charm or likeable treats. What was once an arrogant, yet likeable, character has just become an arrogant one. He’s no longer the 90s morning cartoon adventurer, he’s the new 21st-Century blockbuster action hero, and that offers nothing new or engaging for the audience. We know from the moment we meet him what type of person he is, and right away you can guess where he’ll be at the end of the film. For this character it’s all about learning to be part of a team, to be a leader and not a lone ranger. There’s no subtly behind the film’s ambitions and goals, and instead, a rather clunky boring plot that takes us to Buzz’s lessons. The rest of the cast too are all pale imitations of sidekicks, ones that have nothing to care for and often become annoying to watch on screen. They don’t offer anything other than the exact people Buzz doesn’t want to work with, that you just know will help him save the day. Buzz even has a pet sidekick called Sox whose sole purpose seems to be a writer’s get out of trouble card, as Sox always seems to have the right tool to get them out of a tight spot. The one true relationship that feels like it has some sort of connection is that of Buzz and his Space Ranger partner Alisha. The film even tries to capture that heartbreaking magical montage from Pixar’s Up, but just as it feels like it’s getting somewhere, it falls short, just like we see Buzz do in the film’s opening.

Pixar has always had a way of cutting you right to your core, of reaching parts of our souls and minds that can connect everyone to a story. They’ve even done it again recently with films such as Soul and Turning Red, films that were put straight onto the Disney + streaming services. It’s ironic now then that the first film since the pandemic to be released in the theatre is the one that most feels like a straight-to-streaming film.

I do think Lightyear will offer moments for families to enjoy, however. One young boy in the audience I was in jumped out of his seat at the excitement of the space action and looked up in wonder as Buzz spoke the words “to infinity” followed by the whisper of “and beyond” by the young boy. It was one of the only good things to take out of the film, knowing that somewhere some younger audiences will get entertainment out of this. But I still imagine it will be forgotten relatively fast when the young boy sees the next new film, hopefully one that has a more interesting character for him to fall in love with, and more heart to inspire him.

** 2/5

Lightyear is in cinemas now.

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