In 1995, we met Andy and his gang of toys, including this cool yet goofy toy named Buzz Lightyear. Fast forward to 2022, and now we finally get to see the movie that became Andy’s favorite film: Disney and Pixar’s Lightyear. Here’s our spoiler-free review.
As the definitive origin story of the hero who inspired the toy, Disney and Pixar’s Lightyear follows the legendary Space Ranger on an intergalactic adventure.
After accidentally crash-landing their turnip-looking ship, Buzz Lightyear (voiced by Chris Evans) gets marooned on a hostile planet millions of light-years from Earth alongside his commander and their crew. Eaten up by guilt, Buzz desperately tries to find a way back home through (literal) space and time, but inadvertently gets lost. In his attempt to bring his crew home, he is joined by a group of ambitious recruits and his charming robot companion cat.
Unfortunately, things aren’t as straightforward as he’d like them to be. Threatening his mission to go home is the arrival of Zurg (James Brolin), an imposing presence with an army of ruthless robots and a mysterious agenda.
We don’t want to spoil any of you, so we’ll keep it short and sweet. But just from that brief synopsis, you can already expect that Lightyear has all that action and adventure you’d probably want in a space film.
From supporting to main
While Buzz was definitely one of the bigger, more popular characters (you can even say he’s the second lead) in the Toy Story series, most viewers would probably say that those films largely focused on Woody. We got a backstory for Woody in the second film, but none for Buzz at all. We just knew he was really popular as a toy.
This time, in Lightyear, we’re given the story behind the toy Buzz Lightyear and how he became so popular that he ends up with an aisle of his own in toy stores. Here, we see a more human, vulnerable side to the character that is more often than not used as comic relief in the original series. Buzz has to deal with the immense guilt of failing his mission, and more importantly, getting his crewmates marooned on an uncharted planet, so he becomes fixated on finding a way back home. He tries to take on this burden alone, but he isn’t alone.
Endearing ensemble of characters
Joining Buzz is a set of characters that would definitely endear themselves to you. First, we meet Buzz’s commander and best friend Alisha Hawthorne (Uzo Aduba), who shows Buzz that there’s more to life than being a space ranger, even if that is a big part of their lives.
Eventually, as Buzz gets more and more displaced in space and time, we also meet Alisha’s granddaughter Izzy (Keke Palmer), who leads fellow Junior Zap Patrol members Mo Morrison (Taika Waititi) and Darby Steel (Dale Soules). Izzy is eager and excited to help Buzz finish his mission, but unfortunately isn’t trained enough for Buzz. So it’s up to Izzy to make Buzz understand that he never had to do his mission alone.
Of course, we cannot forget Sox (voice of Peter Sohn), Buzz’s scene-stealing therapy robot cat who deserves his own subsection here — and his own line of merch and toys. In fact, in the film’s global press conference, director Angus MacLane joked that Sox was probably in the Toy Story universe, except he was always sold out because of how popular he is, which is why Andy’s mom bought Buzz Lightyear as a gift instead.
With this Buzz carrying more gravitas than his toy counterpart, Sox is the one who brings the comic relief to the table, along with a whole lot of cuteness. The robot cat definitely steals any scene he is in, and we won’t be surprised if he’s all anyone would be talking about in the next few weeks.
Lightyear wouldn’t exist if Toy Story wasn’t Toy Story, and it pays homage to the franchise through little bits of nostalgia across the film. There is, of course, the iconic line “To infinity and beyond” for which we finally get the reason why Buzz always says it. But there are also other lines like “You’re mocking me, aren’t you?” and “Not today!” that would certainly make you go, that sounds familiar!
There’s even that one Zurg scene that made me chuckle because it was a reference to a Toy Story film that was a reference to another iconic film. (We won’t say it here to avoid spoilers, but you’d probably recognize it when you watch Lightyear.)
New and refreshing
Still, these little bits of nostalgia throughout the film didn’t take you away from Lightyear itself. Because Lightyear is telling its own story. From the beginning of the film, we’re pushed directly into the thick of Buzz’s space-ranging adventures and are then forced to wrestle with questions on the nature of time and the meaning of life.
Moreover, aside from a handful of films, Pixar doesn’t have a lot of stories set in space, and certainly not stories telling an epic space adventure. In this way, Lightyear is a new and refreshing film that you’d still enjoy whether you’ve seen the Toy Story films or not.
Lightyear may be a sci-fi action-adventure film, but at its heart, it is still a Disney and Pixar story. So of course, it imparts an important lesson for kids (and even adults!) all around the world. That is, you are never alone and you shouldn’t let the world — and life — pass you by.
Having grown up with the Toy Story franchise, I loved the film. I understand why Andy labeled this film his favorite and wanted a toy Buzz so bad (though I myself would prefer a toy Sox). Watching this movie is an adventure on its own with all the space-ranger action, time-traveling shenanigans, and classic sci-fi vibes.
While it might never bring the same wonder Toy Story did for several generations, Lightyear has just the right amount of refreshing and nostalgic for both young and old, so it’s definitely a must-watch for the whole family.
Directed by Angus MacLane (co-director Finding Dory), produced by Galyn Susman (Toy Story That Time Forgot), and featuring a score by award-winning composer Michael Giacchino (The Batman, Up), Lightyear will be available in Philippine theaters starting June 15, 2022. Watch the trailer below: