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Lightyear

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WARNING! Spoilers ahead!

This article may reveal spoilers, especially considering the film had either been released recently or not in specific countries yet.‎

"You are a sad, strange little movie. And you have my pity."
James (Schaffrillas)' official Letterboxd review.
Lightyear
BUZZKILL feature.png
This movie is Lightyears behind what made Toy Story so special.
Genre: Comedy
Family
Animation
Fantasy
Adventure
Sci-fi
Drama
Directed By: Angus MacLane
Produced By: Galyn Susman
Written By: Angus MacLane
Matthew Aldrich
Jason Headley
Starring: Chris Evans
Keke Palmer
Peter Sohn
Taika Waititi
Dale Soules
James Brolin
Uzo Aduba
Cinematography: Jeremy Lasky (camera)
Ian Megibben (lighting)
Distributed By: Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures
Release Date: June 8, 2022 (El Capitan Theatre)
June 17, 2022 (United States)
Runtime: 105 minutes
Country: United States
Language: English
Budget: $200 million
Box Office: $222.5 million
Franchise: Toy Story


Lightyear is a 2022 American computer-animated science fiction action-adventure film produced by Walt Disney Pictures and Pixar Animation Studios, and distributed by Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures. The film is a spin-off of the Toy Story film series, and the fifth overall installment in the franchise. It features the character Buzz Lightyear, but it does not take place within the same fictional universe as the main Toy Story films, where Buzz Lightyear is a plastic toy; instead, it is billed as a film the characters within the main Toy Story universe have watched, in which Lightyear is a human "space ranger". It was directed by Angus MacLane in his directorial debut and produced by Galyn Susman, and stars Chris Evans as the voice of the titular character, with Keke Palmer, Peter Sohn, Taika Waititi, Dale Soules, James Brolin, and Uzo Aduba in supporting roles. Despite having a cult following and generally receiving positive reviews (including a 75% on Rotten Tomatoes), the movie is still very flawed for some reason similar to Sharknado and Bee Movie.

Plot

Legendary space ranger Buzz Lightyear embarks on an intergalactic adventure alongside ambitious recruits Izzy, Mo, Darby, and his robot companion, Sox. As this motley crew tackles their toughest mission yet, they must learn to work together as a team to escape the evil Zurg and his dutiful robot army that is never far behind.

Bad Qualities

  1. Despite the movie flat out saying that THIS is what inspired Andy to get into Buzz Lightyear (to the point of there being concept art of Andy watching the movie with the toys he brought) there really isn't that much personality, believability, or charm that'd make any sense for Andy to love Buzz so much in the first place, especially since there is no clever scene of Andy making a cameo in the film where he watches the movie or anything like that.
    • On that topic, Angus MacLane claimed that this movie would be made in either the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s, in the veins of Star Wars, Star Trek and 2001: A Space Odyssey. This doesn't make a lick of sense since the movie does not feel or have the definitive style like a movie made around that time. It feels and looks like an animated movie made years after.
    • Aside from Disney's financial benefits, this raises the question: if this movie is what inspired the toy Buzz Lightyear in the Toy Story films, then why do we only see toys based on Buzz and Zurg, especially since characters like Sox would practically fly off the shelves?
  2. Executive meddling: After finishing work on Finding Dory, MacLane, who directed the Buzz Lightyear of Star Command opening sequences, pitched the idea of making a film about Buzz Lightyear at Pixar evoking the science fiction films he grew up watching with the animators giving the film a "cinematic" and "chunky" look to do so. In spite of the ideas and ambitions MacLane had however. an interview with Angus MacLane said that after showcase, he and the other staff from Pixar apparently forgot about the continuity of Buzz Lightyear while they were making and producing the movie due to it being rushed and somewhat money-driven (i.e. The 2000 direct-to-video spin-off movie Buzz Lightyear of Star Command: The Adventure Begins and the TV spin-off series Buzz Lightyear of Star Command). This does explain why the movie has plenty of flaws, to begin with.
  3. Stunt casting: Even though Chris Evans does a good job voicing Buzz, it feels more like Pixar replaced Tim Allen with Evans due to the latter's high popularity as Captain America in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
  4. Buzz Lightyear himself is a very divisive protagonist. Despite his well-intentioned nature and practical attitude, he makes plenty of jerkishly arrogant or questionable decisions throughout the movie which certainly highlights the good and bad in his portrayal here as the main protagonist. He’s depicted as an unlikable hero who's also a single-minded, egotistical, insufferable, rude, and incompetent jerk who we're supposed to root for. But much like another movie with a different main character it's almost hard to sympathize with him.
    • His motivation for helping Star Command is done in a way that gets old. Where he constantly says that his motivation is to "finish the mission", and it's overused to the point of getting stale and grating.
    • After he made the foolish mistake of piloting Star Command's spaceship and being the very reason everyone was marooned he becomes so broody that he decides to give up being in Star Command out of pure self-doubt. The Buzz we all know and love wouldn't beat him down that easily. He may be disappointed or upset about it at first, but he'd snap back into his good 'ol determined and optimistic self (especially for his inspiring speech as seen in Toy Story 2).
    • His dislike for rookies was taken a little too far (that is a quality that makes him act childish, dismissive, reclusive, and stubborn) but he still saves them despite his sarcastic indifference and extremely condescending nature towards the rookie.
    • It's baffling that he treats Sox (his robot pet) more respectfully than the rookie group that sides with Buzz, especially when he protects Sox from Space Command when he often yells or dismisses the rookies in a condescending, irritable, and reclusive manner. It's very hard to tolerate Buzz's reclusive attitude, and it goes against his likable traits that were shown in past Toy Story movies (i.e Toy Story 2).
    • He also received a bad case of horrible Flanderization instead of being his usually intelligent, sensible, rational, heroic, and sympathetic self. His actions and moments of stupidity also lead to more harm than good.
  5. While most of the characters are tolerable, there are some side characters (with the exception of Sox) that are one-noted, clichéd, one-dimensional or just unfunny.
    • The worst example is Mo Morrison, whose levels of cowardice, foolishness and clumsiness practically never gets a laugh, especially for how overdone his jokes are relating to his little pen and for improperly using a metallic bow and arrow.
    • Darby Steel is a clichéd surly old firecracker who loves explosions and acts snarky due to her resourcefulness and sarcasm.
    • Zurg, before his merely confusing and ridiculous reveal, is a boring and generic villain. Instead of being supposed to be an intimidating villain with a malicious streak, he is depicted as belligerent and emotionless, chasing after Buzz with almost no lines of dialogue but still fails to get Buzz to do what he wants him to comply due to being incompetent. He also doesn’t have an outstanding personality, and it doesn't distinguish him from the Zyclops he sends to chase after Buzz.
  6. This movie makes too many Buzz Lightyear references from the first Toy Story as a form of nostalgia pandering. While some of them are great to hear, Buzz reiterating them so much can be quite irritating a lot of the time.
    • Somehow, the spacesuit Buzz Lightyear is well-remembered for isn't represented correctly. The film gets rid of the laser beam with a built-in laser blaster and the wings are nowhere to be seen until Buzz uses it in space (which is almost at the end of the movie). The replacements we have now been slasher blades, a camouflaging ability to use as Stealth Mode (which is ripped right out of Halo), and an inflatable red ball as the "surrender button", though he does get his iconic suit with all the gizmos mentioned at the end of the movie.
    • Sometimes the movie makes fun of Buzz's iconic lines as seen in the movie's introduction with Alicia Hawthorne mocking Buzz for his narration verbally and playing a music track that pokes fun at heartfelt speeches. That feels a little down-putting to most Buzz Lightyear fans.
    • The most iconic and legendary quote of fiction "To Infinity & Beyond" is overused more than twice and is also done in an extremely lame fashion because of how this line is often reused.
    • While badass of a move, the line Lightyear said to Zurg before he uses his laser gun to explode the crystal Zurg was carrying moments before he could kill him (i.e, "Not today Zurg!"), which was taken straight from the intro of Toy Story 2.
  7. While the soundtrack isn’t that bad, it can be bland and uninspired most of the time, it also wastes the sheer talent of Micheal Giacchino.
    • This film does not reuse any music tracks from the Toy Story universe, and it has music that isn't remotely fitting in the Buzz Lightyear universe. "Afternoon Delight Speed" (the opening theme of the film) rips some notes from The Incredibles' opening theme "Consider Yourselves Undermined".
  8. The film's story and writing are disorganized and all over the place.
    • Buzz made a life-ruining mistake of wanting to finish the mission of going through the hoops in space to find his way home but as the process is told, Buzz gets older by day while everyone else gets older by year, so this process leads to Alisha eventually dying and everyone gets invaded by Zurg. For whatever reason, nobody is remotely angry or upset at Buzz for his behavior and his single-minded mistakes.
    • Despite Izzy Hawthorne being a space ranger, she's scared of space. This is baffling since she wants to be like her grandmother, Alisha Hawthorne, who was also a space ranger.
    • Darby's methods for blowing things up are pretty insane, irrational, and too cheap. From saying that she can take three any objects and make them explode (which literally cannot work unless she has explosive material), to the point of using a rocket launcher in the spaceship Buzz was driving to blow away Zurgbots, she says how satisfying it is, and she is completely unaware of what could've happened to the spaceship if the situation was mishandled.
  9. Extremely Confusing Plot Twist: Instead of Zurg being Buzz's father as depicted in Toy Story 2 or possibly being the rookie who's been mistreated by Buzz over time and wanting vengeance, he's revealed to be an older version of Buzz from an alternative time paradox. This downright baffling part of the story that introduces the concept of time-travel of all things, actually ruins the film's story for how nonsensical this really is.
    • It especially doesn't make any sense how or why Buzz himself, would turn into a cat-destroying psychopath with a single-minded goal if Buzz, in his younger days, already knows that he made a mistake with marooning Star Command and wants to fix it, and because of this reveal, it doesn't make any sense for how or why the Zurg bots even exist in Buzz's regular timeline if Buzz was also Zurg this whole time. Especially since it has been known that the Zurg robots and everyone else can only say the name Zurg since Buzz is supposedly a hard name to say (no, we are not kidding you!).
    • Somehow, this shows how Buzz became uncharacteristically evil as he was then revealed to be what Zurg is and being so single-minded about fixing what Buzz started to the point he doesn't know when to stop, even after this version of himself is willing to wipe out the universe to get back to the future, which is so stupid and senseless, the younger Buzz already sees the flaws in what he's doing. This makes him out to have another evil clone after there were already many other iterations of Buzz Lightyear having an evil clone of himself in past media, except THIS version shows how Buzz became even stupider than ever before, therefore making this the worst Disney twist-villain ever conceived.
    • This has angered many viewers watching the movie, making them easily realize that this plot twist was ripped directly from The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part or even the Operation Timeguard storyline in Cookie Run: OvenBreak as well as the plot twist of the first Infamous game, where Rex Dangervest was a grown-up, evil version of Emmet the whole time, Timekeeper Cookie being an evil version of Croissant Cookie the whole time and Kessler turned out to be future Cole Mcgrath who made cole into a superhuman to destory the world destroying Beast, which is carried blatantly into Zurg.
    • And yes, Zurg being Buzz's father is a subtle reference to Darth Vader's iconic line "I am your father" from The Empire Strikes Back, but still; Audiences came to the conclusion that Zurg was actually Buzz's father as Zurg was meant to be based on Darth Vader.
    • In fact, Angus MacLane originally intended for Zurg to be Buzz's father, but it was changed as that twist was too predictable. But it still doesn't make any sense as discussed above.
  10. The humor is very hit-or-miss. Some jokes either land or miss by a long shot.
    • Where the running gag of a pen Mo provides gets funny at a certain point. In the scene where Buzz Lightyear quotes the "Infinity and Beyond" line while reaching for Izzy Hawthorne for both fingers to collide, she then looks at Buzz in confusion and implied Buzz was making a childish fart joke with finger pulling, which is just very unfunny.
  11. Wasted potential: Due to how this movie presents itself as a straightforward sci-fi movie-within-a-movie, it doesn't feel like it belongs in the Toy Story universe compared to how it could've been viewed at first glance. Especially due to the radical changes that make it stand out from Toy Story, and it doesn't feel special as a movie based on…well, Buzz Lightyear, like how Buzz was viewed as a "larger than life" space ranger when this film gives him little personality to work with. It also feels like an animated and underdeveloped version of Paramount's Interstellar, with time dilation (i.e. time being affected by gravity) even being used for dramatic effect.
  12. Sequel Baiting: After both the credits and the closing logos, Zurg is seen floating through space. His eyes then light red, indicating that he survived the ship’s self-destruction. However, Due to the film's poor box office returns, a sequel will most likely not happen.
  13. Inconsistent direction and execution by Angus MacLane. Despite the movie having a fair level of logic regardless of idiocy, and aside from the movie's concept and the infamously bad plot twist the movie has, the movie tends to provide once too many "jokes" that makes it hard to tell what to genuinely take seriously or what is played for laughs.
    • Where the environment Buzz & Star Command were marooned on supposedly has intimidating environments like the location being filled with huge bugs and vicious vines, but the bugs are treated as brainless & bumbling, and the vines pulling people away are either treated like a threat or are treated like it doesn't matter since it was played for laughs sometimes. Stuff like this makes the comedy and the drama very inconsistent and all over the place.
    • The biggest example was the tear-jerking moment of Sox nearly dying. When Mo and Darby were talking about how great the sandwiches were on their planet, and then Mo clumsily knocks down an object that falls onto Sox, damaging him and concerning everyone as if they killed a real-life animal. The following scene is played too seriously, and it comes off as either laughable or groan-worthy.
  14. When Sox reboots after nearly dying, he makes the AOL Dial-up sound, which is nothing more than product placement for AOL (though it could have been added for nostalgia). Not to mention, given the futuristic setting of the movie, why on earth would such a robot use such an outdated product for his boot-up sound is beyond us.
  15. The galaxy/world feels a lot smaller because normally, you'd expect a Buzz Lightyear story to take place on many planets. The movie takes place on only one. Compared to Buzz Lightyear of Star Command: The Adventure Begins, the galaxy feels a lot emptier and the stakes are not as high. Buzz Lightyear is supposed to be about protecting the Galaxy, but we don't actually see any of that in this movie. The only alien characters we see on-screen are the generic oversized bugs. In the show, there were alien Space Rangers but in this movie, every one of the Space Rangers are human.
  16. The fact this movie heavily uses complex sci-fi elements like time dilation, alternate timelines, and time paradoxes in a kids' movie will confuse them to the point of a headache.

Good Qualities

  1. As expected, the visuals and animation for this movie are fantastic, stellar, polished, detailed, and colorful, which all fits its serious-driven and cosmic vibe. In fact, it's almost comparable to that of a live-action film!
  2. The voice acting is tremendous and despite not being as good as Tim Allen, Chris Evans does a great job as Buzz Lightyear, putting his own spin on the character and not just an imitation of Allen.
  3. It has funny and hilarious moments here and there. Sox himself provides the biggest highlights of the film's comedy.
  4. The action scenes are passable and well-paced.
  5. Despite it being grating sometimes, there are many references to Buzz's lines from Toy Story that viewers can find satisfying to hear done by Chris Evans.
  6. Even though most of the characters are very flawed, one-note, and clichéd, there are also some passable and likable characters.
    • Buzz can be viewed as a sympathetic protagonist at times, despite all of his flaws, he has good intentions despite his irritating behavior and problematic decisions.
    • Sox is very much a fan-favorite by many audiences and critics, he was praised and beloved when the film was released for his comedic personality as a cute yet smart comic relief.
    • Izzy Hawthorne and her grandmother, Alisha Hawthorne, are likable and good-hearted people.
    • Star Command has some good-hearted members that are mostly scientists trying to navigate their way home.
  7. The score from Michael Giacchino can be great at times, despite being bland and uninspired most of the time.

Trivia

  • The opening of the movie became an internet meme due to its infamous absurdity.
  • This is the second Pixar movie to be released in theaters in the 2020s decade with the first being Onward, which released a week before the movie theaters closed on March 13, 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Because of this reason, Soul (2020), Luca (2021), and Turning Red (despite releasing the same year as this article's said movie title) skipped their theatrical releases and moved to Disney+. This movie also marks Pixar's return to theaters after the last 3 Pixar movies got the Disney+ dumping treatment.
  • The film is considered to be Pixar's third box-office bomb, having grossed $214 million worldwide against a $200 million production budget when it originally had $34.6 million dollars grossed as soon as it was released into theaters.
  • The ship's internal voice-activated navigator (IVAN), the equivalent of a GPS, acts like a real-world, misbehaving GPS. It's voiced by Mary McDonald-Lewis who's also the voice of OnStar's navigation system.
  • The oxygen tanks in the movie are actually screaming canisters used in Monsters Inc to save the scares and laughs of children.
  • The Space Ranger suit that Darby wears throughout the film reads "Tempus". This is a reference to "Tempus from Morph", one of the names being considered for Buzz Lightyear early in the development of the original Toy Story (1995). The "Tempus from Morph" name was used in the 1992 test footage for that film.
  • On Buzz's ship, there's a piece of technology that gives him trouble. He pops out the unit, blows into it to clear out the dust, and sticks it back in, after which it miraculously works. This is similar to a widely-used technique for the original Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) when game cartridges failed to load properly. (However, Nintendo at the time warned against it, and many game experts since then have debunked the practice as an urban legend. Blowing on the cartridge actually tended to make the problem worse by corroding the copper pins, making it harder for the NES connector pins to make a clean connection.)
  • Taika Waititi voices a character called 'Mo Morrison'. This is a nod to Waititi's fellow New Zealand actor, Temuera Morrison, best known internationally for playing the role of Jango Fett in Star Wars: Episode II - Attack of the Clones (2002) and several more recent spin-off television series.
  • James Brolin admitted that he had never seen any of the previous Toy Story movies so knew nothing about any of the characters in this film. He said he agreed to voice Zurg purely on the grounds that '...the Pixar guys have good judgment'.
  • The film deliberately borrows plot points and imagery as nods to several classic science fiction films and TV series, notably the original Star Wars trilogy (1977-1983), Alien (1979), Star Trek (2009), Lost in Space (1998), Flash Gordon (1980), 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968), 2010; The Year We Make Contact (1984), The Black Hole (1979), Silent Running (1972), Babylon 5 (1993-1998), Lost in Space (1965-1968), Battlestar Galactica (1978-1979), Flash Gordon (1954-1955; 2007-2008), Buck Rogers In The 25th Century (1979-1981), and even the original Thunderbirds (1965-1966) television series as well as the Transformers and Planet Of The Apes franchises.
  • James Brolin, who voices Zurg is the father of Josh Brolin who played Thanos in Marvel Cinematic Universe films, and Chris Evans, who voices Buzz Lightyear played Captain America in the same franchise.
  • Sox makes the AOL Dial-up sound when he reboots after nearly dying.
  • E.R.I.C. is renamed D/E.R.I.C. The D probably stands for Decommissioned.
  • Wade from the upcoming Elemental film makes a cameo in the film where he can be seen as a mascot for a brad of water called Wade Water.

Reception

Critical response

It received positive and mixed reviews from critics, but mostly mixed reviews, and it’s currently the lowest-rated movie in the Toy Story franchise, and has been criticized for its messy plot, underwhelming twist-villain, lacking the emotion of the Toy Story movies, and for having Buzz deliver lines he said in Toy Story to other toys, which in the scenario of Lightyear, feels odd, disconnected, even forced, and some people that this Pixar film is even worse than Cars 2. Some critics have also found that it’s hard to form an emotional connection with this Buzz Lightyear as he’s different from the toy, but that will ultimately depend on each viewer’s experience. According to Rotten Tomatoes and Metacritic, it also strangely received (generally) favorable reviews with a 75% approval rating, with critics praising the film's animation, voice acting, score, and entertainment value, but criticizing the screenplay and perceived lack of ambition for Pixar's standards. Some audiences at the theater revolted when the movie came out as a matter of fact.

It had plenty of review-bombs. These range from trivial reasons like the film having a quick scene with two LGBT characters, to the more valid reasons like how it was written and presented differently from the original Toy Story trilogy, having several instances of nostalgia pandering, having once too many major plot holes & many mistakes that went into the writing where reasons for why it got plenty of critical backlashes after it was released. It also got review-bombed due to Chris Evans voicing Buzz instead of Tim Allen and how the director for this movie, Angus MacLane, made a baffling relation to it being a film Andy saw in the 70s-90s when he also disregarded the continuity of Buzz Lightyear's spin-off Star Command, a show he directed the opening of. Making that statement a notable issue of the movie's concept and its mere existence. However, Allen actually said the film has nothing to do with the toy Buzz Lightyear whatsoever.

Box office

Lightyear first grossed $50.5 million domestically, and the numbers grew slowly over the weeks, eventually grossing $222.5 million dollars worldwide.

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