Have you ever wondered where on Earth – or in space – Toy Story star Buzz Lightyear came from? Well, Lightyear is the movie that inspired the toy that inspired young Andy.
We catch up with the Buzz as a young and super-keen Space Ranger. A Space Ranger who, after a bout of overconfidence, gets his commander – and best friend – plus their entire crew stranded on a rather hostile, killer vine and giant bug infested planet.
A determined – and guilt-ridden – fellow, Buzz works tirelessly to find a way to get all of his crewmates off this spacey hellhole, while everybody else goes about adapting to the situation. So, Buzz undertakes several test flights, trying to work out the right crystal fuel mix, and travelling forward in time each and every outing. As such, everybody else is ageing around him, and he’s missing out on a lot of life. But, again, determined – and guilt-ridden.
Eventually joined by a robo-companion in the cutesy cat Sox -meowmeowmeowmeowmeow – and a ragtag group of trainees in the granddaughter of Buzz’s commander pal Alisha, a convicted felon and the pen-obsessed Mo, it looks like there may be finally be some hope. But then big old space baddie Zurg comes along and throws several giant killer robot shaped spanners into the works…
In the acting department Chris ‘Captain America’ Evans gives the seismically dimple-chinned Buzz great seriousness, while his initially hapless recruits – voiced by Keke Palmer, Dale Soules and Taika Waititi – serve as superb foils. James Brolin, meanwhile, gets his evil on as the voice of Zurg. Waititi is, in particular, hilarious at times, even if you just know early on that his pen obsession is going to pay off big time down the track.
Once again, Pixar enter the movie fray with an animated feature that seems to have adults in their sights more than children. Lightyear is essentially a love letter to classic sci-fi space movies and TV shows – you’ll spot references to everything from Star Wars and Star Trek to Buck Rogers and 2001: A Space Odyssey. Oh, and there are, of course, oodles of Toy Story call-backs – and we’d expect no less. It puts the movie in an interesting space, with several young kids departing our particular screening with their grownups before the credits rolled, and that’s despite the regular outbreaks of unbridled cute from Sox. We’d probably look at kids at least ten and upwards as the main audience for this one.
With 25 previous features under their belts, we’ve become accustomed to Pixar’s tendency to toy with our emotions – and those who don’t get even a little choked up at a certain scene early on are likely made of stone, even if it isn’t quite Up-worthy tearjerking. There are also several bigger concepts at play, some of which are great teachable moments if younger minds plug in – that you can’t always do everything yourself, teamwork makes the dream work, etc.
As is also Pixar’s way, the animation on display is nothing short of stunning, while Michael Giacchino’s score hits all the right space action beats. While the story and myriad references are likely to get the pulses of stalwart old school sci-fi fans going that little bit faster, in the end it is all fairly – and surprisingly for Pixar – by-numbers. Oh, and certainly don’t go in expecting anything resembling a Toy Story movie.
But, well, Sox is cute… meowmeowmeowmeowmeow!
In cinemas: June 16, 2022
Starring: The voices of Chris Evans, Keke Palmer, Taika Waititi
Directed by: Angus MacLane