Disney and Pixar’s Lightyear goes to infinity and beyond in this Toy Story spinoff focusing on the origins of Buzz Lightyear in 1995.
There is a mid-credits scene and two post-credits scene, including after the studio logos.
Depending on who you speak with, this film might not be necessary. However, it’s a lot of fun to watch especially thanks to Chris Evans voicing the captain. He adds a lot of fun to the film amid the stress and tension of wondering if they will ever go home. In another universe, Evans might not be voicing Captain America but working as an animator. Evans makes even better casting because of his experience as Steve Rogers/Captain America. He knows what it’s like to be a man-out-of-time and utilizes this in his performance.
After crashing on T’Kani Prime some 4.2 million light-years away from home, Space Ranger Buzz Lightyear (Chris Evans) works to find a way back home. Unfortunately, he fails in his many attempts to reach hyperspeed and get the Turnip on its very way. Due to time dilation, what is minutes for him in outer space ends up being years on the ground. By the time he finally succeeds in his mission, everyone he knew is now dead. The 1,000 scientists and technicians have moved on with their lives and made this planet their home. Watching Buzz react to losing Commander Alisha Hawthorne (Uzo Aduba) is like watching the beginning of Up all over again. Pixar certainly knows how to hit us where it hurts! But anyway, Buzz is joined by robot companion cat Sox (Peter Sohn) and the Junior Zap Patrol in taking on Zurg (James Brolin).
One thing I appreciate in watching the film is that it gives a new meaning to the catchphrase, “To Infinity and Beyond!” Where we used to see it as Buzz talking about space, it’s really his need for connecting with friends. We see it with Commander Hawthorne and again with her granddaughter, Izzy (Keke Palmer). Even though this film is separate from the Toy Story universe, it puts a different perspective into watching Buzz’s actions.
Bill Hader is definitely the new John Ratzenberger as the former Cheers star does not appear in the film. The former SNL actor appears as Featheringhamstan.
Michael Giacchino is no stranger to Pixar and composes another solid score. It’s a score that would fit in well for a genre film in the 1990s. In a lot of ways, Giacchino is giving a new generation of film lovers the experience that my generation had growing up. He’s scoring the film as if he’s John Williams or Jerry Goldsmith. Williams is my favorite film composer but Giacchino is putting in the work to enable one to make the argument that he’s the equivalent to John Williams in the next generation. The Oscar-winning composer also throws in an easter egg to Star Trek. While I still think that his score for The Batman is some of the best work he’s done, his work in Lightyear is certainly up there. “Mission Perpetual” would fit right in with many sci-fi films of the era.
Origin stories coming years after the fact can be tricky. For one, there needs to be reason for it. Is it a cash grab for the studio or is there a real purpose to telling the story? It’s quite the sci-fi action-adventure and I can certainly imagine this sort of film being produced in the mid-1990s. But anyway, in-universe, this film is the first of a trilogy. The 2000-01 animated series Buzz Lightyear of Star Command is seen as an animated spin-off of the films.
This film isn’t just an origin story for the Space Ranger. It also serves as an origin story for Emperor Zurg, first introduced in Toy Story 2. Make sure to stay until after the studio logos that follow the end of the credits. I feel comfortable in discussing things now because the film has already been out for two weeks. It appears that Pixar is setting up a potential sequel to Lightyear. I would certainly like to see where they take the franchise. Sadly, the film is not quite the box office success that it needs to be. A lot of this comes back to the question of whether the film is necessary. Well, this and the homophobia–more on this in a moment.
People are making a big deal about the film having lesbian characters but they are nothing but bigots. In fact, there is no shortage of LGBTQ representation during the 1990s in film. I’ve been very open about the fact that I would have come out years earlier had I known that being trans was a thing. During the 1990s, any films dealing with transgender characters almost always played such people as a joke. What I’m trying to say is that people are LGBTQ and are born this way–please grow up and deal with it!
I’ve written in the past about the film underperforming at the box office. One part of it is definitely because of the conservative bigotry. Another factor could be the lack of Tim Allen reprising his character. When you think about it, the guy playing Buzz Lightyear could have been unavailable to record dialogue for the toys and so they hired someone else. The other factor is audience training due to recent Pixar films going straight to Disney+. Throw in the cost of movies these days and you couldn’t blame families for waiting for the film to hit the streamer. I hope more people see Lightyear in theaters because the film’s office will almost certainly be the final determination on whether or not we get a sequel.
Lightyear breaks new ground for Pixar with its display of LGBTQ representation while also delivering a fun sci-fi adventure film. If you ask me, I had fun watching the film and so it did its purpose. Isn’t that what really matters at the end of the day, right?
DIRECTOR: Angus MacLane
SCREENWRITERS: Jason Headley, 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
Disney-Pixar released Lightyear in theaters on June 17, 2022. Grade: 4/5
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