WARNING: THE FOLLOWING COMPARISON PIECE CONTAINS SPOILERS FOR “LIGTHYEAR”. CONTINUE AT YOUR OWN DISCRETION.
Pixar’s latest film, Lightyear, aims to give the character a Buzz Lightyear from the popular Toy Story franchise an in-universe backstory as the film Andy saw in theaters own 1995. However this explanation makes little sense as the Buzz from Toy Story and the Buzz from the new film feel like completely different characters. Not to mention the long list of continuity errors.
What’s interesting is that 22 years prior there was already a Buzz Lightyear film. Buzz Lightyear of Star Command: The Adventure Begins served as a jumping off point for the television series that soon followed. Let’s do a comparison between both films and see which one embodies the character more.
The story in the 2000 film follows Buzz as he recently lost his partner, Warp Darkmatter, in a rescue mission. Buzz feels distraught and vows to never have another partner. Meanwhile Zerg steals the Uni-Mind, a powerful object used by the LGMs (Little Green Men) to connect all telepathically. As Zurg plans to use the Uni-Mind to enslave the galaxy Buzz must learn to trust three young rookies to help save the galaxy.
The story in the 2022 film sees Lightyear accidentally crash a research ship on an unknown planet. Buzz must try to end the sector to light-speed, but each time he does so he experiences time dilation. By the time he figures out the secret everyone he once knew has died. Now stranded in the future an evil being known as Zurg uses an army of robots to find Buzz. Buzz teams up with three rookies and a robot cat to save everyone from being wiped out.
The 2000 film has the advantage of being more embracing on the extra terrestrial side of things. The space rangers serve as the galactic police (somewhat similar to DC’s Green Lantern Corps) and all come from different world. We also visit various other planets and locations throughout the galaxy.
In the 2022 we mainly focuses on three locations, the mysterious planet, the base and Zerg’s ship. The only hint at extra terrestrial life were the plants, the bugs and Zurg’s robots. Beyond that it almost exclusively human.
In the 2000 film Buzz doesn’t want to have a new partner due to his previous partner seemingly dying on a mission. Not wanting to be responsible for another death he turns down all contenders. But after realizing he can’t do it alone he calls them in and together they stop Zurg’s plan and save the galaxy. Not to mention he’s voiced by Tim Allen.
In the 2022 film Buzz just doesn’t like working with rookies. We’re never really given a reason as to why he has this prejudice, just that he has it. He becomes so fixated on the mission everyone around him slowly dies of old age until he has to team up with three rookie outcasts in order to stand a chance. He only gets over his prejudice of rookies when he decided that he can’t change the past and must move on.
– Side Characters
In the 2000 film the rookie are introduced early on, each given a different background and reason as to why they want to be Buzz’s partner. Each has a different set of skills and each are rather diverse being made mostly of non-humans. Mira Nova is the standout of the group and mirror’s Buzz on multiple occasions.
In the 2022 film the only really standout characters are Socks, Buzz’s robot cat, and Buzz’s close friend Alisha who is only in the film’s first act as she passed away. The rookies in this film consist of a bundle of inexperienced misfits with Alisha’s granddaughter Izzy being the standout. Honestly you could write Darby and Mo out of the film and not miss much.
In the 2000 film Zurg serves as the main villain. He, alongside Warp Darkmater, steal the Uni-Mind to bring the galaxy under Zurg’s mental control. Being an emperor he rules over an entire planet and has a vast army of various robots and aliens who do his bidding. He is also very threatening and requires more than one person to try and take him down.
In the 2022 film Zurg is Buzz from an alternative future who came back to the past to find Buzz’s light speed crystal. His goal is to travel back in time to stop the accident from happening and return everyone home. However getting back is his only concern as he doesn’t care who gets in his way, not even his past self. He can’t let go of his promise.
The 2000 film feels a lot closer to something Andy would have watched in the late 1990s and feels a lot more faithful to what the Buzz from Toy Story would have been based on. The action is great, the main characters are very memorable and the villain is as funny as he is threatening. Not to mention that the film LITERALLY starts off with the toys from Toy Story putting the video tape of the film in a VCR and watching it, so it’s 100% in-universe.
The 2022 film tries too hard to be realistic while also not being faithful to the source material Buzz comes from. The story isn’t as memorable, the characters aren’t as likable, the villain feels dull (not to mention yet another Disney villain twist) and the universe doesn’t feel as imaginative.
If you are a big Buzz Lightyear fan go out at watch the film from 2000. I’d say watch it on Disney Plus but it’s sadly absent from the service. Check eBay to see if they have the DVD for a decent price.
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