Animation powerhouse Pixar doesn’t swing and miss often, but “Lightyear” is a dud. It’s not as bad as “Cars 2,” but this uninspired standalone story about the beloved “Toy Story” character Buzz Lightyear never finds its footing. This one is guaranteed to cause fidgety kids and adults, because a space adventure should never be this boring.
Legendary space ranger Buzz Lightyear (voice of Chris Evans) is determined to break his speed record. Working with new recruits Izzy (Keke Palmer), Mo (Taika Waititi), Darby (Dale Soules) and his robot kitty cat companion Sox (Peter Sohn), they travel through the universe (and time). When the crew attracts the attention of the evil Zurg, they must find a way to escape his powerful robot army.
Attempting to tie this one in with the “Toy Story” universe, this is presented as a film within a film. “Lightyear” is supposedly Andy’s favorite movie, and the reason he was gifted his Buzz toy back in 1995. It’s an unusual idea, and it doesn’t work when you start to dissect the bits and pieces.
As a Disney fan, I hated the reveal of who is behind Zurg (James Brolin). Not only is the villain’s motivation lame, but it doesn’t fit in with the established “Toy Story” canon. Zurg changes the dynamics of the heroes and villains, and it makes zero sense when considering the previous “Toy Story” films.
Everything about the film is inconsistent, or at least at odds with itself. The technically perfect animation is wasted with a palate of drab colors. Only a couple of the action sequences are exciting, and the majority simply don’t work at all. The newly introduced characters are one-dimensional and uninteresting (the attempts that aim to make the film more inclusive are commendable, however, including an openly lesbian woman and a multicultural cast). The ending sets up the film for a series of sequels, but I doubt many will be clamoring for more of these people or their story.
The plot is a yawner, and the story just isn’t very interesting. I never became invested in the characters or the film at all, even when it went full-on sci-fi and explored alternate timelines. The real problem is that Buzz is not a strong enough character to carry a film by himself. What’s so good about the “Toy Story” films is how the characters interact with one another. Admittedly, Buzz is one of the most boring (and the toy version is a bit of a jerk). I’d rather see a movie about Woody because at least he has Bullseye and Jessie to keep him grounded.
In the end, “Lightyear” lacks one of the most important trademarks of a Pixar film: imagination. The artistry is there, but it doesn’t have an inspired vision.
By: Louisa Moore