Lightyear Film Review

'Lightyear' arrives in cinemas nationally from 16 June. 'Lightyear' arrives in cinemas nationally from 16 June.

To infinity and. . . back to 1995? The latest 'Toy Story' film is a prequel to our favourite Pixar movie of all time – but was it really necessary?

The latest 'Toy Story' film isn't really a 'Toy Story' film at all. That is, it's a film about Buzz Lightyear, but it's not about the Buzz Lightyear action figure who was in 'Toy Story'.

It's about the Buzz Lightyear character who, in theory, prompted a toy company to manufacture the action figure in the first place – and that's why he's voiced by Chris Evans rather than Buzz's usual actor, Tim Allen.

Yes, it's confusing, but a caption at the start of 'Lightyear' makes things reasonably clear: 'In 1995, a boy called Andy got a Buzz Lightyear toy for his birthday. It was from his favourite movie. This is that movie.'

After landing on a hostile planet, populated by thickly aggressive vines and the occasional rust-spotted robot, with his commanding officer, fellow space ranger and best friend Alisha Hawthorne (voiced by Uzo Aduba), Buzz Lightyear (voiced by Evans) manages to crash-land their mothership, marooning them both and hundreds of personnel onboard.

They're ordered to make the best of things and build a temporary community in this remote place, while fearless pilot Buzz makes a series of test flights out into space to see if the hyper-speed necessary for escape is even possible.

Following a dozen test flights, a confusing turn of events, a robotic cat companion named Sox, and a late-to-the-party antagonist, the underlying themes of teamwork, family and leadership are clearly brought home by the end of the movie, despite feeling fairly surface-level – never quite reaching the heights of infinity, nor beyond.

'Lightyear' also feels much longer than it should have been, and it's pretty short at 105 minutes. It doesn't find its stride until about 40 minutes in, but once it hits that point, it's relatively solid for the rest of the film.

Although well done in some areas, it's not a new Pixar classic, and it definitely doesn't feel like a 'Toy Story' movie.



It also begs the question, would this movie actually have been Andy's favourite movie? Considering other sci-fi movies that were released in the mid '90s, 'Lightyear' felt more like a sci-fi film from the '70s, with much more modern animations, and a firmly 21st century progressive plotline.

We specifically see this with Alisha's character, who appears multiple times with her loving wife (which the film admirably makes no big deal about) and family, her queerness and happiness playing an important to the overall plot.

Speaking of Alisha, Aduba's strong voice performance was one of the best things about 'Lightyear', alongside James Brolin (Emperor Zurg) and Peter Sohn (Sox), whose soothingly monotone voice makes the character a standout for the film.

Of course, Chris Evans' take on Buzz absolutely lives up to Tim Allen's beloved Buzz character. Although startling at first when you realise that Buzz isn't voiced by Allen, you quickly fall in love with Evans' adaptation, adding his own wit and flair to the character without taking away from the Buzz we all know and love.

Without trying to be Allen, Evans does a great job at achieving the 'super hero meets game show host' vibe that we've grown to love since the original 'Toy Story' movie.

Another thing that 'Lightyear' gets exceptionally right is the animation; again, despite the fact this movie was supposedly released in 1995.

It's refreshing to see attention to detail in the movie's surrounding environments, particularly as you'd think there wouldn't be a lot of detail on a hostile, 'unlivable' planet in the middle of space.

This attention to detail extends to the smallest of gears, buttons and uniforms that are necessary for space travel. The most impressive of the animation, however, is in its cast.

The texture in Alisha and Izzy Hawthorne's (Keke Palmer) hair is beautiful, and it's really exciting to see natural hair illustrated so beautifully in an animated film.

Overall, 'Lightyear' is a slow-moving, somewhat underwhelming film, with some great additions of exceptional voice performances, animation, and Sox – the true hero of the 'Lightyear' film.

You'll still get Pixar pulling on your heart strings and giving you the warm and fuzzies (although not to 'Up' or 'Turning Red' level), however you probably won't remember them a week after you watch.

Did we really need a movie about Buzz Lightyear? Probably not. Is it a nice movie to take the whole family out to watch? Absolutely. Will I be watching it again? Probably not.

★★★☆☆

'Lightyear' arrives in cinemas nationally from 16 June.

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