Lightyear is a relatively average movie with a few scattered moments of creativity and wit. But, not enough of them to make it an exceptional sci-fi flick. This film feels like it just doesn’t quite come from the same studio that brought us Soul and Inside out. And before it’s even come out, the Buzz has already worn off quickly.
The movie starts with “Before he was Andy’s favourite toy, he was in Andy’s favourite movie… this is that movie”. This is a rather lazy attempt to draw reference to a far superior film. Not a straight Toy Story prequel per se. Rather, Lightyear is a bare-bones sci-fi action film with a Toy Story reference clumsily tacked on. Rather than focusing on the plastic toy voiced by Tim Allen, we instead see the story of the fictional human hero who inspired it, now voiced by Chris Evans (of Captain America fame).
One thing I can say is that this film has a great representation of diversity. With Buzz’s commander (Uzo Aduba) as an openly gay (and happily married) African-American woman; a portrayal that has already led to the film being banned in the UAE.
The film’s plot begins when an underground creature with tentacles suddenly attacks the titular space ranger and his colleagues. Leaving their spaceship’s vital “hyper-speed crystals” destroyed in the scuffle. As a result, they are marooned a very long way from home, without obvious escape routes.
In a similar fashion to his plastic Toy Story counterpart, this Buzz is a little delusional at times and drives himself to the limits of endurance, though he never quite makes it. When he tests a shuttle to go and get help, he ends up returning to the base. However, he does so only to discover that years have passed in his absence. With everyone else growing older and dying while he remains the same.
It’s these interesting incorporations of time travel that make Lightyear initially interesting. Though this interest slowly drains once the film then quickly begins to resemble every other sci-fi movie ever. As Buzz recruits the remnants of his old crew to fight generic-looking robots.
The character that steals the show has to be Buzz’s robot cat Sox. Given to him by Alicia to help him cope with the disappointment of not being able ever to complete his mission. This is a limelight-stealing feline contraption with big eyes and an ironic sense of humour, and definitely the source of the best and funniest lines in the film.
It has to be mentioned that no matter whether the film is outstanding or a flop, the whole concept of the movie is flawed. The thing that made the original Buzz Lightyear so loveable and arguably relatable was that he was a delusional toy who believed he was a space hero yet wasn’t. Without that concept, you’re left with a quagmire-looking astronaut with a huge ego and overachievement issues, leaving less sparkle and magic sprinkled over the Pixar films we’re used to.
You know it’s a problem when the plastic toy shows more human-relatability than the human it’s based on. Ultimately Lightyear is a perfectly passable summer sci-fi, but nowhere near the top-notch quality of Pixar’s previous outings!
What do you think of the Lightyear movie? Let us know in the comments below! Or, if you want more content about subpar sci-fi flicks, check out our reaction to Suburban Commando!