Pixar’s latest film Lightyear attempts to revive your feelings of nostalgia for the Toy Story franchise in its first (and probably last) spin-off film. Acting as the film that inspired the Buzz Lightyear action figure, Buzz finds himself stranded on an uncharted planet and must re-discover faster than light energy to get everyone back home. The film stars Chris Evans (Known for playing Captain America in the MCU) as the titular space ranger who must learn a lesson of trust and friendship while battling the mysterious Zerg.
So was this film worth the 27 year wait? Let’s blast off into hyper space and take a look.
WARNING: THE FOLLOWING SECTION CONTAINS SPOILERS. PLEASE CONTINUE AT YOUR OWN DIGRESSION.
The story begins with Buzz accidentally causing his ship to crash on an unknown planet with hundreds of other people on there. He feels responsible for stranding everybody there and decides to dedicate himself to finding a way home.
He is close friends with fellow ranger Alisha Hawthorne. And to address the elephant in the room, yes, she is a lesbian. But that part about her character is extremely insignificant and obviously short so that Disney can edit it out for foreign markets. You could have replaced her female partner with a guy and it would have made zero difference.
As Buzz tests out different technology to achieve light speed he experiences time dilation, making everything advance 4 years each time he tries. Eventually Alisha passes away and Buzz feels guilty for not being there for her.
Lightyear and his robot cat Socks figure out the formula and achieve light speed. When they get back they are now 22 years in the future. A robot army led by the mysterious “Zerg” is attacking the colony and he must team up with Alisha’s granddaughter Izzy and two other rookies to save the day.
Throughout their journey Buzz keeps trying to do things himself because he doesn’t think the rookies can handle it and often times they do screw things up; But he later learns that he can’t do it by himself and decides to finally treat them like fellow rangers.
He is captured by Zerg, who reveals himself to be an older Buzz from an alternate timeline (Yep, another twist villain in a Disney movie) who came from the future to try and travel back to correct his mistake. But he needs Buzz’s crystal to power his ship to do so. Younger Buzz says no, because if they reset the timeline his new friends would cease to exist.
After a daring rescue mission Buzz and the rookies stop Older Buzz and he is presumed dead. When they arrive back at the colony Buzz becomes the head of the new Space Ranger Defense Force, and of course the rookies are on his team. In an end credits sequence it is revealed that Zerg still lives, teasing a sequel that will never happen.
First things first. This film is Within the first few seconds of the film lines of text state “In 1995 Andy got a toy from his favorite movie. This is that movie”. Well I hate to break it to ya, but it isn’t. Besides re-using some quotes from the first and second Toy Story films this movie is completely divorced from the source material.
Zerg is not an evil emperor, the Space Rangers aren’t galactic police, there aren’t any intelligent alien spices to interact with and various other inconsistencies that conflict with the Buzz we knew from 1995.
Second big issue, the story is very nonsensical. Imagine being a kid and being confused because you don’t know what time dilation is. What 6 – 10 year old kid is going to know what any of that means? Not to mention the film feels very slow and boring. Despite being only 105 minutes you feel like it was 180 minutes. You keep going from place to place trying to find some piece of technology and you rinse and repeat the same gags.
Third, film felt very miscast. Chris Evans is a good actor, but he ain’t Tim Allen. Nobody can replace the original Space Ranger from 27 years ago. Only he can bring all the different emotions needed for this character. Evans sounds like he’s just there for the paycheck.
And finally one issue many people have pointed out is that we are able to compare this film to an older one. Not to Toy Story, but Buzz Lightyear of Star Command: The Adventure Begins from 2000. That film does a similar story with Buzz learning to trust rookies, has Tim Allen, has great action and comedy and most of all is set in the Toy Story universe. Whenever you have a predecessor there will always be comparisons.
Overall Rating: 4/10
Felt very inauthentic to the source material, not much action until the 3rd act, dull protagonist, annoying side characters, dumb plot twist and confusing story. Even if it weren’t tied to Toy Story it would still be bad.
I do not recommend this film if you are a die hard Toy Story fan. But if you really do want to see it don’t go to the theater, just wait for the Disney Plus release. I can confirm that during my screening at least two families walked out before the film finished. I am not joking.
Hopefully Pixar can learn from this lesson as it is currently not doing well financially at the box office. Or else they could be relegated to Disney Plus going forward.
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