June 13, 2022

CINEMA | To Infinity – Pixar Travels Beyond 'Lightyear'

"In 1995, Andy got a toy [...] from his favorite movie. This is that movie."
Chris Evans Angus MacLane | Disney Pixar Lightyear
Walt Disney Pictures / Pixar Animation Studios
Pixar Animation and director Angus MacLane make their version of a space action-adventure in the Toy Story spin-off Lightyear. Starring Chris Evans as the new voice of Space Ranger Buzz Lightyear, this origin story serves as a sort of film-within-a-film on which Andy's action figure is based upon—and presumably watched as a child in 1995—in the world of the original movie—if that makes any sense.

Essentially a riff on blockbuster sci-fi flicks (imagine a more action-packed, animated Interstellar), Lightyear feels rather generically told with what can only be described as needlessly loose ties to its Pixar roots as inspired by the fictional toy character. Despite the stunning designs and animated choreography, much of the film feels lifeless or inert. By toning down the exaggerated storytelling of the toy version of Buzz including Tim Allen's wonderfully delusional performance, this version kind of pales in comparison.

While usually Pixar's penchant for voice casting and intriguing use of celebrity voices is spot on, I felt underwhelmed here. Most notably, Keke Palmer and Taika Waititi voice two of Buzz's clumsy sidekicks and deliver perfectly fine performances yet add to the sheen of genericness of the animated film

Clearly, the standout character is Buzz's android cat "Sox" (voiced perfectly by another Pixar director, Peter Sohn) in one of the film's more clearly defined details. Its script, written by Jason Headley and MacLane, tries to combine so many different elements including time dilation and never conjures the notion it would necessarily inspire such a popular toy or a child's obsession.

Lightyear never really addresses its place as an oddly overstuffed Toy Story universe entry, nor does it stand alone as a compelling space action-adventure grafted loosely onto an existing property. Simply, it does not live up to its own strangely convoluted, meta-fictional premise outlined in the opening title card.

More | YVArcade / Indiewire / Inverse / Polygon / ScreenCrush

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