Lightyear was probably never going to be as successful as the the Toy Story franchise that spawned Buzz Lightyear. What made all four previous movies was how they worked as an ensemble. I remember watching Toy Story 2 and realizing how they had gotten how to evenly showcase each character and the actors voicing them.
Thanks to his own criticism of Hollywood, Tim Allen basically fired himself from voicing Buzz this time around. But there is a opening caption that explains that this is actually a movie that inspired that toy line. Andy from the first three Toy Story movies was a huge fan of this movie. So that’s why his mother got him the Buzz Lightyear toy as a birthday present. The meta reference might explain why the voices might be different, but I feel a lot of people boycotted the movie based on false information that Disney refused to cast Allen again because his conservative political beliefs. We are talking about Disney here, a studio that refused to hire Willem Dafoe as Doc Holliday in Tombstone because Dafoe had played Jesus Christ in the controversial The Last Temptation of Christ. Yet Allen served time in prison for drug trafficking.
But all this behind the scenes controversy along with a resistance from audiences to return to movie theaters guaranteed Lightyear wouldn’t be as successful as it’s only grossed about $225 million worldwide, while Toy Story 4 grossed more than four times as much. But that was pre-Covid. I also can’t undertstand why people would object to Chris Evans being cast as Buzz. The man who played Steve Rogers/Captain America has a very high likeablility level that makes him one of the best celebrities we currently have.
There also was much talk about a kiss between a same-sex couple that happens and is so innocent that you wonder what all the hoopla was about. I think people just made a fuss to make a fuss. It hasn’t been the first time. People were doing the same thing back in the 1990s. It make you wonder why Disney keeps trying to cater to the conservatives when absolutely nothing they can do is satisfactory.
The plot isn’t the best but it does have some great moments. Space Ranger Buzz Lightyear (Evans) and his commanding officer and friend, Alisha Hawthorne (Uzo Aduba) land on T’Kani Prime to investigate to see if there is any signs of life. Attacked by hositle lifeforms, they attempt to take off in the Star Command vessel “Turnip” but it crashes when its escape trajectory is compromised.
The crew decide to colonize the planet and Buzz, blaming himself, vows to find a way they can leave. A yea passes, the colony is fulled founded and developed hyperspace crystal for travel. But when he tries to test it, he ends up going through a time dilation thinking it only takes four minutes, but it’s actually four years. Alisha allows him to continue testing and eventually 62 years pass on T’Kani Prime. Alisha has passed away after getting married and raising a family.
Her successor Col. Cal Burnside (Isaiah Whitlock Jr.) informs Buzz that any further attempts to try lightspeed have been abandoned as the decision has been made to live on the planet. And officials want to take Sox (voiced by Peter Sohm), a roboto therapy cat of Buzz’s, that leads him to think something is wrong, so he disobeys Burnside and with Sox’s help tries one more attempt. But this attempt causes him to skip 22 years where things have changed for the worse on T’Kani Prime. Buzz meets Alisha’s granddaughter, Izzy (Keke Palmer) grown up and learns an army of robots led by Zurg (voiced by James Brolin) have landed on T’Kani Prime.
Lightyear’s biggest problem is it’s focused too much on sci-fi action that it just turns into another sci-fi-action comedy that has been done better. And I really felt the whole time travel/time dilation subplot has been done better in other movies. Need I mention this is the second Chris Evans movie in the past few years to focus on time travel. (SPOILER ALERT!! They did the same thing in Avengers: Endgame.) I understand the movie is supposed to be a parody of 1990s era sci-fi and there are references to other popular sci-fi movies.
There are some good jokes. I liked the Sox’s character and Evans does a good job in the role. One joke that I liked that I have to mention is how people in the future only use one slice of bread on their sandwhiches. In stead of placing the meat and other items between the two slices of bread, they put the slice of bread in betweem the pieces of meat. It’s a hilarious joke about how trends change over time and they can’t fathom what it was like with two slices of bread.
Lightyear, currently streaming on Disney-Plus, might attract some younger kids whose parents didn’t want to take them as well as some fans of the Toy Story movies. This wasn’t the first time Disney has focused just on Buzz. A cartoon series Buzz Lighter of Star Command ran for one season with Patrick Warburton voicing Buzz with no controversy about Allen being replaced.
What do you think? Please comment.