Review: Lightyear

Andy really is a boring child if this was his favourite movie…

After crash landing a ship of 1,200 crew, space ranger Buzz Lightyear goes on a daring attempt to refuel the ship so they can go home. But his attempts fling him into the future, where an evil villain awaits…

Despite 1995’s Toy Story being a critical darling and loved by all, this film is getting completely hammered by audiences; the internet is rife with unnecessary and unwarranted comments. These range from Disney’s decision to “recast” the voice of Buzz Lightyear from Tim Allen to Chris Evans, and the inclusion of a same sex kiss. One of these is a ridiculous complaint, while casting Evans instead of Allen has some logical reason (and isn’t some conspiracy). After all, the film opens with the statement: This is the film in which the toy is based off of.

No, there are other, actual, issues with Disney Pixar’s Lightyear.

The first one, primarily, is that the film is quite boring, and this is an opinion of someone who loves science fiction. Moreover this is a surprising statement for a Pixar movie, a Pixar movie set in space, and a Pixar movie set in space that Buzz Lightyear of Toy Story came from!
The film makes the audience ask questions it really shouldn’t: instead of making us laugh, it has us ask “How come these space rangers flying in a hyperspace ship not know the formula to making hyperspace fuel?” Indeed, with their space ship crashed they need to refuel it, but despite having all of the elements to make it, they don’t know the formula. So Buzz has to go off on dangerous solo missions to get the correct mixture. How? How can you be flying in a spaceship that goes to hyper speeds, have all the elements to make the fuel, but not know how to mix it?

There’s no sign of intelligent life anywhere.

This may seem like such a nitpick, but considering the entire premise, setting, and first half of the movie hinges on this plot device, it is a pretty massive nitpick. Moreover, they fly in hyperspace already, yet when Buzz returns from his solo test flights, they are all shocked and surprised that he lost four (and ever increasing amounts of) years due to “time dilation”. How. Did. They. Not. Know. That. Would. Happen?

Asides from baffling logic plotholes that make any fan of science fiction films cringe into their popcorn, Lightyear just… isn’t funny. It really isn’t. All of the characters are half-hearted, most of their personalities are watered down to a single gimmick (oh hey, it is literally Taika Waititi, constantly banging on about how he has a pen) and the villain is massively wasted. Oh, the robot cat did a hairball joke. Wow. So original.

Did you know there was a Buzz Lightyear cartoon? Seriously. There were two seasons and 62 episodes, back in the year 2000. Watch some of it after seeing Lightyear and you will see exactly what this film should have been like. Or at least similar to. A funny, wild, bright, colourful, cartoonish sci-fi caper with a silly Saturday morning cartoon villain who laughs maniacally and sounds like Tim Curry! That is the favourite film of Andy from Toy Story, not… whatever disappointing experience this is.

Buzz flies at top speed… away from audiences’ affections.

It is weirdly similar to Lost in Space (the 1998 one with Matt LeBlanc from Friends in it) which is a surreal inspiration if you want to make a Buzz Lightyear movie. You had the cartoon! Why didn’t you follow that template instead?

So yeah, there’s really nothing to write home about, at all. It was neither funny nor memorable. It had the Pixar gloss, but unlike Soul everything here was cartoonish and otherworldly, making it feel significantly cheaper. Had it leaned into the cartoonish more, maybe have… alien characters instead of all of them being boring human beings (cough-like the cartoon-cough) it might have fared better even in terms of visual interest.

The cast was fine. Chris Evans was totally fine as Buzz. Despite his casting and Waititi just makes you wonder if Disney are going to recycle Marvel actors until the end of time.

The genuine intrigue for this film evaporated extremely quickly. It is neither a good Buzz Lightyear movie or a unique science fiction adventure of its own merits; it simply fell through the crack between them.


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