For a company that prides itself on creativity, Lightyear can only be described as derivative. One might say too much Disney and not enough Pixar. If Lightyear is meant as an homage to Star Wars, Star Trek, Transformers, and a myriad of others, then it hits the mark. More likely, this is mere plagiarism. In reality, no Pixar film is bad, this one just disappoints, especially given its Buzz, pun intended. And, by now, most of you know I am not a fan of time travel to advance a plot.
Lightyear opens reminding us that he was one of Andy’s favorite toys back in 1995. This is the film that inspired the Buzz craze. Without question, Lightyear feels more 2022 than 1995. Marooned on a planet light years away from Earth, Buzz blames himself. In the crash, the hyperspace fuel cartridge suffers damage. Over the next year, the crew forms a colony while making repairs and exploring for new elements to replicate hyperspace fuel. If successful, this fuel will deliver the colony home. Like all Pixar films, the animation is second to none. Feline lovers will likely rush to the nearest Mattel distributor to buy an animatronic Sox as a companion for their cat. Still, something is missing. Even if the critics don’t realize it at a 79% Rotten Tomatoes rating, the public does with a terrible 4.1/10 IMDb score. I give it 3.5 Gavels.
Back on Tikana Prime after an unsuccessful hyperspace fuel test, Buzz learns he’s been gone four years while he’s only aged minutes. Fellow Space Ranger and now Commander, Alisha Hawthorne, provides him a cat robot named Sox to assist with any adjustment. Determined to correct his miscalculation years earlier, Buzz tries again and again to find the necessary formula, to no avail. Everyone else ages over 60 years. Specifically, Hawthorne marries, has a son, and then a granddaughter, Izzy, while Buzz is gone. When he returns this time, after 22 years, Buzz finds a new Commander with new priorities, and new dangers on the horizon.
In a controversy all its own, “goofy toy” Buzz Lightyear/Tim Allen is replaced by “live-action, more gravitas” Buzz Lightyear/Chris Evans (Free Guy). Truthfully, other than seeking a younger actor, Tim would have been just fine. In a bigger controversy, Commander Hawthorne (Uzo Aduba) kisses her wife, thus getting the filmed banned in thirteen countries. China asked that the scene be deleted. I ask whether these countries get any American or European films as nearly all contain gay characters.
Made at a cost of $200 million, Lightyear expects to gross $70-80 million this weekend. Unlike Top Gun: Maverick, our showing was sparsely populated. Never one to worry about Disney making money, this one will not get the word-of-mouth Buzz as did the Tom Cruise film.
“Boldly goes where every Pixar film has gone before.” Little White Lies
“It’s a perfectly serviceable movie, and Sox is indeed adorable. But it’s not going to take you to infinity (or beyond).” Arizona Republic
“Kids will love Lightyear. Adults will enjoy it. The only reason it falls short of what we’ve come to expect from Pixar is that they’ve set their own bar so damn high.” Entertainment Weekly
By Rotten Tomatoes standards, Lightyear would tie for #21 of Pixar’s 26 films. Only Cars 2 ever received a Rotten Tomato at 39%. Intended as part of a trilogy, Pixar needs to up its game with Lightyear 2, hard to do with a sequel.