Voices-Chris Evans, Keke Palmer
Scott’s Review #1,322
Reviewed December 13, 2022
The popular Toy Story (1995-2019) franchise spawns a new child with Lightyear (2022), the spin-off prequel film within a film. Box office receipts will determine if Lightyear has any children of its own.
It’s a pleasant and more or less conventional offering since it only focuses on one ‘toy’, the masculine Buzz Lightyear, and tells his story. The visuals are delightful and colorful and there is enough adventure to keep the whole family engaged.
Unfortunately, there isn’t much in the way of legacy or connection to the Toy Story characters, and even the voice of Buzz is replaced by Tim Allen to Chris Evans.
One’s enjoyment of the film largely depends on their preference for the franchise in general or the hero in question. Better satisfied may be now adults who were kids in 1995 harkening to a nostalgic film featuring a favorite childhood character.
As a semi-fan but not a diehard fanatic of the Toy Story films I found the overall result pretty good but not astounding.
It doesn’t explain why Lightyear went from a living and thriving action hero to becoming a suburban kid’s possession but it also doesn’t matter much, at least to me.
For fans of the series, it’s a nice trip down memory lane type of film more than anything groundbreaking or breathtaking.
Sometimes familiarity breeds comfort.
The film follows Buzz Lightyear (Evans) operating as a space ranger who, after being marooned on a hostile planet with his commander and crew, tries to find a way back home while confronting a threat to the universe’s safety.
His ambitious recruits Izzy, Mo, Darby, and his robot companion, Sox serve as new characters following Lightyear’s every move. As this motley crew tackles their toughest mission yet, they must learn to work together as a team to escape the evil Zurg and his dutiful robot army that is never far behind.
Possibly the most interesting and I’ll confess the primary reason why I saw Lightyear was the notorious same-sex kiss that unceremoniously got the film banned in some Middle Eastern countries.
It also pissed off conservatives who found the kiss too much for them and the potential damnation and ruination of young children everywhere.
In truth, the kiss is timid and a non-issue. The issue is more likely a prominent female lesbian character and her wife, and best friend Buzz. It’s like, how dare the all-American Lightyear has a black lesbian for a best friend.
Alisha (Uzo Aduba) is strong, confident, and black. She is a commanding officer and arguably the most interesting character in the film.
What an inspiration for young girls everywhere to see such representation and potential. The kicker is that she is in a relationship with a woman who produces a grandaughter named Izzy (Keke Palmer), one of Buzz’s recruits.
Despite the addition of inclusion and diversity Lightyear is nonetheless a by-the-numbers offering. The message is one of a robust adventure though I appreciate the social importance of such a good character.
Once Buzz is in flight and soaring for the stars Lightyear turns action/adventure in a hurry. The filmmakers intend to create a popcorn summer blockbuster while having our hero save the day and the intention is fulfilled.
The time travel and aging of characters are interesting because we see their lifecycle and generations to follow. For example, Buzz is close to Izzy. He cares so much for Alisha who he misses terribly because he has been far away and not aging while she has aged like a normal human.
Lightyear (2022) provides a safe flight plan despite being brave enough to include some diverse characters. It doesn’t connect to the origin of Toy Story as much as I’d like it to and feels rather like a stand-alone.
Time will tell if a sequel is made but it would be unnecessary.