The Toy Story franchise takes a turn with a new movie that takes a character from the classic four-film franchise of Toy Story and turned it on its head.
Lightyear caused some confusion online for how this movie was existing. So much so that it started with apiece of text to explain it to the audience. It said that in 1995, this was the movie that Andy went to see in the theaters that made him want to get the action figure of Buzz Lightyear. So it is kind of a movie within a movie.
There has also been some controversy about Disney/Pixar replacing Tim Allen as the voice of Buzz with Chris Evans. This whole movie idea cleared that up as well as the voice of Tim Allen is now the voice that the toy company chose to sound like the original voice from the movie. All of us geeks who had talking action figures understand this concept.
The movie featured Space Ranger Buzz Lightyear (Chris Evans) on a mission with his fellow Ranger Alisha Hawthorne (Uzo Aduba) investigating the suitability of a certain planet for colonization. However, the planet was shown to be dangerous and not worth the time. Unfortunately, Buzz gets the whole crew and people on the ship stranded on the planet.
Buzz refused to give up until the mission was complete so he kept experimenting with a new power source. Every time he would do so, trying to reach hyperspeed, would lead to him losing around four years on the planet, though it only seemed like four minutes to him.
I enjoyed this movie quite a bit. It is a Pixar film so, of course, it was beautiful to look at and the animation was masterful. I will say that I did not find this as emotional as a typical Pixar film would be. There was only one point where I felt my emotions being tugged at and certainly nothing like Inside out, Coco or Up.
That does not make this a bad movie. By contrast, this is a fantastic science fiction film that felt like a big budget popcorn summer flick.
I love Chris Evans and I think he was remarkably good at making this character his own while still providing enough familiarity to be able to see the toy version of Buzz in his performance. Uzo Aduba was excellent as was Keke Palmer, who voiced Alisha’s granddaughter Izzy. Taika Waititi and Dale Soules voiced two of Izzy’s oddball crew, Mo and Darby prespectfully.
However, the standout of the film was easily Peter Sohn as Sox the cat. Sox was a robotic cat that was there to help Buzz after his first return from space and Sox got all of the great lines and is easily the breakout side character of the film. Sox was so great that I did wonder why Andy (in Toy Story) wouldn’t have also wanted a Sox toy along with his Buzz Lightyear because there was no way that Sox was not a huge toy seller from this movie. Sox will sell a ton of real life merchandise too, count on it.
I enjoyed the way that they incorporated Buzz’s classic villain, Zurg into this story. Zurg was voiced by Josh Brolin and the twist was one that I thought was well done.
I have to say that I never thought about Toy Story at all through the run of the film. I hope people do not come to this movie expecting some kind of sequel to the Toy Story franchise, because Lightyear is something else. It may lack some of the emotional heft that the best Pixar movies have, Lightyear is entertaining, funny, full of drama and exceptional voice acting and animation.