I wasn’t born when the first Toy Story was released, but I was 3 by the time Toy Story 2 came about. As a child at that time, I remember loving the film and watching them both many, many times. I even remember having a giant cuddly (apart from the helmet, which was extremely hard and heavy) Buzz Lightyear toy. Toy Story 3 came out many years later and I was very excited as a teenager, a perfect ending for the films I grew up watching (and my favourite of the 3), maybe the best children’s trilogy of all time. Toy Story 4 wasn’t necessary, but I enjoyed it for what it was, but the weakest of the films so far. I think Pixar recognised that and saw the future of this huge franchise had to go in a different way. The concept behind Lightyear was unique and certainly had legs to go onto take some of the ideas of the animated series Buzz Lightyear of Star Command, something certain young adults will remember fondly.
Lightyear follows Buzz Lightyear,a Space Ranger, after his ship is diverted to a planet where they are stranded with no way off. Buzz becomes the test pilot for the fuel to get them off, but on his return from a test he returns to find he has been away for a lot longer than he thought. Things have changed and there is a new threat against the colony.
The film has struggled with it’s release for a couple of reasons. There are mixed reviews for the film, and with Minions: The Rise of Gru just a couple of weeks away, it feels like it’s a safer bet for general audience families to go to. I also spoke about how I wasn’t born when the first one came out, so kids these days just aren’t as much on the Toy Story hype. Minions is their Toy Story in a way. I get why Disney decided to opt to put this one in cinemas (as I believe all films should be) as a known property, but when you compare this film to the likes of Luca, Soul and Turning Red in terms of quality there is a big difference. The 3 Pixar films that got pushed straight to Disney+ all would’ve benefited from the cinema release, good word of mouth and being unique, something I do believe audiences look for, something which feels lacking from Lightyear. I like the idea in concept, but in execution it misses the mark. The film is a direct homage to the likes of Star Trek and Interstellar, but makes them for kids, missing what makes Pixar great and makes it so successful, when it makes a film everyone can enjoy, failing to even match up with some of the lore of Buzz Lightyear that we know from the Toy Story films. It is in fact those moments and references that I felt were some of the stronger moments of the film.
It’s hard to say that Sox doesn’t completely take over the film. The loveable cute cat sidekick to Buzz provides 99% of the laughs and lifts the mood of the film when everyone else is playing straight or the jokes don’t land. Throughout the film, you’re just waiting for the next Sox moment. If a sequel does happen (which might just go straight to streaming), it feels like it would be thanks to Sox and the merchandise that will ship because of the character.
Chris Evans takes over from Tim Allen as the voice of Buzz Lightyear, the film character, rather than the toy version. I think he actually does a really good job and is one of the stronger voicing talents in the film. It actually fits perfectly for the character and he isn’t just doing his normal Chris Evans voice which we have got to know so well down the years.
Overall, Lightyear is entertaining but lacks some of the moments that could’ve made it a big summer hit. I’m a big sci-fi fan and would’ve liked it to lean even harder into that side of the universe, embracing the weirdness. We just have to wait and pray for the day Disney puts Buzz Lightyear of Star Command on Disney+. I wanted to like this so much more than I did for Pixar and hope Disney goes back to putting their films back on the big screen and won’t take this as too much of a hit.
What did you think of Lightyear?
Do you want to see a sequel? Or a different Toy Story spinoff?
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