Release Date: June 17, 2022
Director: Angus MacLane
Production Company: Walt Disney Pictures | Pixar Animation Studios
Lightyear is a spinoff that likely didn’t need to exist, but as a fan of Pixar animation and the Toy Story movies in particular, I feel duty-bound to watch it. Personally, I’d rather see a movie about the lives of the puppets on the 1950s Sheriff Woody TV show. At any rate, Lightyear offers nods to what we know about the toy Buzz Lightyear, but the action-movie character Buzz Lightyear (Chris Evans) has a story that’s largely unique. In fact, the movie Buzz Lightyear’s story is so unique it’s hard to believe the premise that this was the movie that Andy watched in 1995. This is a small thing though, because the movie with 2022 sensibilities is more interesting than if they tried to make it a retro-1995 type of media.
The story focuses on Lightyear serving as a Space Ranger on a exploration vehicle that due to his own error gets stranded on an inhospitable planet. Lightyear serves as a test pilot for a new hyperdrive but due to time dilation when he returns from every one of his four minute flights, four years have passed for his companions on the planet. Buzz sees his commander and close friend Alisha Hawthorne (Uzo Aduba) age, marry, have children and grandchildren, and ultimately die. Upon returning from his final, successful test flight he finds the planet under attack by robots, and must team up with a ragtag crew including Alisha’s granddaughter Izze (Keke Palmer), the cowardly Mo (Taika Waititi), the elderly convict Darby (Dale Soules), and his delightful robotic cat companion Sox (Peter Sohn) to defeat the evil robots.
Lightyear is charming, funny, action-filled, and has a certain weirdness that justifies its existence as a movie. On the other hand, it suffers in comparison to the Toy Story series. It feels like a cash grab and yet it probably would’ve done better artistically and commercially as its own original story as opposed to being a spinoff to something else. All that being said, this is a fine film and I’m sure many families and children will enjoy it.