When “Lightyear” was first announced, I couldn’t help but laugh at the idea. I made fun of the trend of origin stories for every character in Cruella (specifically with villains). But over time, I’ve been intrigued with the idea Pixar had. This wasn’t the Buzz Andy owned, but rather, this is the Buzz Lightyear Andy would’ve seen on the big screen. And when the trailer came, it seemed interesting enough to check out. A spinoff like this for a Pixar movie feels ambitious with Toy Story; but I’m always open to ambition.
Chris Evans plays Buzz Lightyear — specifically, the Buzz Lightyear that would inspire the toy Andy had in the Toy Story movies. On an exploration mission to the planet T’Kani Prime, Buzz and his commanding officer, Alisha (Uzo Aduba), find themselves with a damaged ship, and the crew is left on the planet. Over time, they settle a colony and Buzz looks to get the fuel he needs to get them back home. When Buzz finally gets it, he jumps ahead to the future; there, the colony is under attack by an army of robots commanded by a being called Zurg (James Brolin). With the help of Izzy (Keke Palmer), Alisha’s granddaughter, Mo (Taika Waititi), a naive recruit, and Darby (Dale Soules), Buzz leads the ragtag team to take on Zurg and his army.
While he doesn’t hold a candle to Tim Allen, Chris Evans brings the same energy that he did to the MCU; he again plays an action hero who’s misplaced in time. And his chemistry with Uzo Aduba’s character is brilliant; they really feel like siblings in arms, and it just makes me wish she had a bigger role in the story. But Aduba walks so that Keke Palmer can run. Keke plays the character of Izzy as every confident hero with the guts to take the enemy head on, but can get tripped up by her insecurities. The rest of the cast stands out; Taika Waititi is fun as always in anything he does, and he got a chuckle out of me. Peter Sohn is a ball as Sox, the robotic cat that acts as Buzz’s emotional support animal that is a joy and reminds me why I love cats. And then you have James Brolin. Without spoiling anything, Brolin is amazing, and his character is the perfect foil to Buzz.
Recently, there has been criticism, especially from Tim Allen and Tom Hanks about how this movie doesn’t have a connection to the Buzz Lightyear toy or the original movies. I’d disagree (for the most part); while I would’ve wanted to see something in the end to add more to the point about this being a movie Andy would see, the character fit the spirit of an in-universe Buzz Lightyear movie. The story also has a heartfelt message about not focusing on the past. Tie that in with an underdog story involving a ragtag team in space, and you have a fun premise with a lot of heart.
This was a fun movie. While I wouldn’t put it in the top-tier of Pixar movies, it’s definitely in the B-tier. And when you’re B-tier is the same league as movies like A Bug’s Life, Monster’s Inc., and Onward, that’s not bad company. The cast is amazing, and the story and action make you feel like a kid. It’s a movie that definitely goes “To Infinity … and Beyond” to feel like something Andy would’ve seen.
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