Lightyear (2022)

Director: Angus MacLane
Writer: Angus MacLane, Matthew Aldrich, Jason Headley
Spin off from: Toy Story, Toy Story 2, Toy Story 3, Toy Story 4
Cast: Chris Evans, Keke Palmer, Peter Sohn, Taika Waititi, Dale Soules, James Brolin, Uzo Aduba, Bill Hader
Seen on: 22.6.2022

Buzz Lightyear (Chris Evans) and Alisha Hawthorne (Uzo Aduba) are space rangers, and they are damn good at their job. Despite this, they and their spaceship are accidentally stranded on a rather dangerous planet though. For Buzz, the new mission is clear: he has to find a way to get them all off the planet and back home. For that, they need to rebuild the fuel crystal – which is easier said than done. Especially when it becomes obvious that he is not the only one interested in that fuel.

Lightyear is a charming, emotional film that tries very hard to capture a nostalgic feeling. I don’t think it quite managed that, but that doesn’t mean that I didn’t have fun along the way.

The film poster showing Buzz Lightyear (Chris Evans) in a space suit.

Lightyear ties into the Toy Story series as the 1995 movie which inspired the Buzz Lightyear action figure that stars in the Toy Story movie. And the film tries very hard to capture the retro aesthetic of a mid-90s SciFi film. But I have to admit that I don’t think it quite succeeded – the technology looked to me more like something from the 80s or even earlier. Now, I haven’t researched this – this is entirely based on my gut feeling. But I feel like I could rather accurately assess the aesthetics of a film for kids that would have come out when I was a child.

Another thing that I thought pretty unlikely for a movie made in the 90s would be that the central team is made up of a white man and a Black woman (and that this wasn’t the only character of color). In that case, though, I don’t mind that they went with progress instead of accuracy. Representation isn’t everything, but it is a step forward that we managed in recent years that it is definitely something people keep in mind. Not so in the 90s, I’d say.

One final thing that didn’t work that well when you consider the film in its larger Toy Story context: why would a Buzz Lightyear action figure be ever sold without Sox (Peter Sohn), his robot cat and the biggest star of the film? It doesn’t make a lick of sense.

Buzz (Chris Evans) and Izzy (Keke Palmer) walking in space suits.

But back to the film itself: taken on its own, I found it to be utterly charming. It is funny, warm and emotional. There were a couple of moments where I had actual tears in my eyes. Chris Evans strikes the right balance for Buzz who is a bit of an ass, but with a good heart. Keke Palmer and Uzo Aduba give Izzy and Alisha so much life, and I loved how both characters relate so very differently to Buzz. That being said, they all have the film stolen from them by Sox who is absolutely the greatest.

The story strikes a melancholy chord and isn’t all space fun. While there are moments when it is actually poignant, it doesn’t quite manage to pull off that balance and favors the fun side. But I didn’t mind that for the most part – I had to much fun with it.

Buzz (Chris Evans) in his spaceship with his robot cat Sox (Peter Sohn).

Summarizing: sweet.

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