Movie Review: Lightyear

Buzz is back, but not quite how you might remember him. Pixar’s Lightyear has finally landed, revealing the true story behind the iconic space ranger – but is this the Toy Story spinoff that fans have been waiting for? While it might not make the most of its unique concept, Lightyear takes viewers to infinity and beyond with a visually breathtaking, epic-scale sci-fi adventure.

In Lightyear, legendary space ranger Buzz Lightyear embarks on an intergalactic adventure alongside ambitious recruits Izzy, Mo, Darby, and his robot companion, Sox.

Pixar is responsible for some of the best-looking movies of all time, but the studio may have set a new standard with Lightyear. From incredibly colourful and breathtaking settings to stunning character detail and light work, Lightyear is one of the most impressive animated movies I’ve ever seen. There were moments watching this film where I genuinely sat back in awe of the animation and some of the visuals that Pixar was able to put on screen. Michael Giacchino’s score is equally as impressive, with the epic and beautiful score elevating the animation to a whole new level. 

Buzz’s latest outing might not have the emotional impact that audiences found in previous Toy Story movies (Toy Story 3 is still the saddest), but Lightyear is still packed with all of the heart and emotion that we’ve come to expect from Pixar. Despite being a flashy sci-fi adventure, there is an extremely personal and emotional story at the centre of Lightyear – and this is maintained throughout the film. I’m not embarrassed in the slightest to reveal that I cried like a baby, sitting alone in the cinema at 10 AM, during one particular scene. 

While some members of the audience will certainly find it strange to hear someone other than Tim Allen voicing Buzz, Chris Evans does a brilliant job stepping into the role. Taking on an iconic character with an already established and beloved voice must have been a daunting task, but Evans does a wonderful job of making the role his own. The actor offers a unique and charming performance, and it never feels like he is attempting to copy Tim Allen or do something that has already been done.

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As for the rest of the voice cast, there’s more than enough to enjoy. Keke Palmer does a great job as Izzy Hawthorne, an ambitious rookie who has always dreamed of becoming a space ranger. Uzo Aruba is also great here as Aisha Hawthorne, delivering easily the most emotional performance with only a small amount of screen time. It must be said, however, that Peter Sohn’s Sox and Taika Waititi’s Mo are the highlights of the film. Both characters run the risk of being too over-the-top or even annoying, but the film utilises them both perfectly – resulting in two of the most memorable animated characters in recent years.

The only thing stopping Lightyear from becoming one of Pixar’s best movies is the story. The opening act of the film introduces an exciting and unique concept, which would separate Lightyear from all of Pixar’s previous offerings, but the film never quite lives up to what it could have been. That’s not to say that Lightyear doesn’t take Buzz on an entertaining ride, but it feels at times like the studio decided to play it safe instead of sticking to the bold and exciting concept.

Despite the fact that Lightyear doesn’t quite stick every landing, especially when it comes to the somewhat safe story, it’s still an incredibly fun, visually breathtaking, and heartfelt offering from Pixar. Lightyear will be enjoyed by children and adults, and it’s something that I would be more than happy to see Pixar explore further in the future.

Rating: 4/5

About Lightyear

Director: Angus MacLane

Cast: Chris Evans, Keke Palmer, Peter Sohn, Taika Waititi, Dale Soules, and Uzo Aduba

Synopsis: Legendary space ranger Buzz Lightyear embarks on an intergalactic adventure alongside ambitious recruits Izzy, Mo, Darby, and his robot companion, Sox.

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