Pixar has taken over the animation sphere since Toy Story came out in the mid-’90s. They have created films that children and adults can relate to on different levels. These films have transcended the animation genre and have become a part of the filmmaking community like no other animated films have. Pixar has had three of its films nominated for Best Picture at the Academy Awards, and they hope that Lightyear, based on the character originating from the Toy Story franchise, is the fourth.
The film starts with a few lines of dialogue on screen explaining where this character came from and then goes right into his story. Buzz Lightyear (Chris Evans) is a member of the star command. He is one of many on a ship affectionately dubbed “The Turnip” because of its shape. When the ship passes a nearby planet, it senses that it might be inhabitable, so it releases two members of its crew to go down to the planet to explore and see how inhabitable it truly is. The other space cadet the ship releases from stasis is Alisha Hawthorne (Uzo Aduba), Buzz’s friend and sidekick in Star Command. Together they explore this new planet and get a not-so-pleasant surprise.
Pixar/Disney has revolutionized the animation genre. They have made animation films look almost real. The characters look so real it’s sometimes uncanny. In Lightyear, the animation has a layering and shadowing effect I’ve never seen before. The shading of the animation is incredible. The blacks and greys stand out so vividly. The dirt on characters just jumps out off of the screen. There is even one scene where Buzz is looking out of a window, and his reflection is seen in the window, and it’s absolutely stunning to look at. Pixar has done it again in this film. The computer animation is flawless.
One of the things about Pixar films I’ve always liked is how they are relatable to many different audiences and demographics. They can still entertain children while adults get an entirely different message from the same film. Films like Wall-E, Ratatouille, and Up have demonstrated that animated films can be multi-layered and cross boundaries of what animated films can say. The Toy Story films are on a different level, though. People of all ages have gravitated towards the friendship of these two oddball toys and their ragtag group of friends. Lightyear takes this to the next level by explaining who and why Buzz Lightyear is the way he is.
The friendship and camaraderie are back again for this film like the four previous Toy Story films — the only difference is it’s a different group of ragtag friends that have to go on a mission to defeat Zurg and his army of robots. This group consists of the granddaughter of Alisha Hawthorne, Izzy Hawthorne (Kiki Palmer), Mo Morrison (Taika Waititi), and Darby Steel (Dale Soules). These people are thrown together through a confluence of events and have to help Buzz Lightyear defend the planet. It’s a bit of a learning curve for these oddballs, but they get their acts together by the end of the film to start working together as a team.
One particular character that adds quite a bit of comedic relief and levity to a film that is serious at times because of the nature of the story is Sox, the robotic cat (Peter Sohn). Sox has so many funny lines and creates a friendship with Buzz Lightyear I just couldn’t help but admire. If you weren’t a cat person before this film, you would be afterward. This cat’s cuddly nature is off the charts, and just when you thought he couldn’t get any cooler, he does. He just knows what to say and do at the right moments every time during the film. And the reasoning behind Sox is pretty damn terrific as well. I’m sure audiences will adore Sox just as much as I did.
Lightyear does something that all films should do. It evokes an emotional response and brings the audience to places they rarely go in their lives. When they enter the theater, they should be entertained, wowed, laugh, or cry. These are emotions that Lightyear brings to the screen. Pixar has done it again by the sheer awesomeness of the character of Buzz Lightyear. The way this character is written and portrayed by Chris Evens is nothing short of brilliant. We feel what he’s going through from the beginning to the end of the film. That is a rarity for an animated character to evoke that much emotion from the audience. Our empathy for him and his mission is through the roof, which is another key to why this film and Pixar films in general work so well. I loved this film so much!
Dan Skip Allen
Sean Boelman Founder/EIC disappointment media