To be clear, Lightyear is a movie. Yes, it’s a movie that exists in our world, but it’s also a movie that exists in the world of Toy Story. It’s the 1995 movie that Disney used to sell Buzz Lightyear toys to Andy, although visual effects back then were apparently a lot better than I remember.
Anyway, whether it does or not, Lightyear is a far-from-groundbreaking Pixar production that is nonetheless an entertaining sci-fi action movie the whole family can enjoy.
Set on a remote planet, a stranded Buzz Lightyear (voiced by Chris Evans) attempts to rescue his shipmates with a new fuel source–battling alien cockroaches, pesky plants, and evil robots along the way. Director Angus MacLane (Finding Dory) wastes no time by jumping into the action in the first minutes and never letting up until the closing credits, launching a fast-paced story full of action, humor, and robot cats.
The cat, Sox, steals the show–primarily existing to sell toys to children (my nearly four-year-old brought her stuffed version of Sox to the screening), Sox had the kids (and grown-up kids) giggling throughout. There are other funny elements as well, though Lightyear doesn’t entirely nail the comedy.
While the action isn’t nearly as thrilling or creative as found in The Incredibles, Pixar’s most comparable “action film,” Lightyear still boasts plenty of fun sequences. MacLane does a great job of mixing up the set pieces; the movie feels fluid, constantly evolving or shifting to remain fresh and invigorating.
Lightyear may not push the needle, but it’s a fun, family-friendly action film that is a blast to watch–my kid at least agrees. It’s well-crafted with clear vision and lean storytelling that, frankly, is light years ahead of recent Star Wars productions in terms of cohesion and entertainment value. I’d watch again, and even if I didn’t want to, my child would make me.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.