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Today we’re talking about Lightyear Review: Chris Evans' space ranger promises a heartwarming ride to infinity and beyond
Lightyear Cast: Chris Evans, Keke Palmer, Taika Waititi
Lightyear Director: Angus MacLane
Lightyear Stars: 3.5/5
My first memory of meeting Buzz Lightyear very surprisingly was not through Toy Story, the movie but rather it was through the merchandise that was released as a part of the promotions for the film. Unlike Andy, I met the toy version of Buzz before I watched the film. As for Lightyear, this the film that left Andy mighty impressed by the space ranger’s character and it’s the reason why he was ready to move on from his beloved Woody (Tom Hanks) for a while after receiving Buzz (Tim Allen in Toy Story) as a gift. With Lightyear, we meet the space ranger and hear his origins story. He’s the character who inspired the toy version of him whom we have loved all through the Toy Story franchise.
If there’s one thing in the Toy Story franchise that always warmed my heart, it was the sweet friendship shared by Woody and Buzz. While the Toy version of Buzz has come to understand that working with a team sometimes makes the mission easier to complete, the movie character that he’s based on is still to understand this. We meet Chris Evans’ Captain Buzz Lightyear on a foreign planet where he and Commander Alisha Hawthorne (Uzo Aduba) have been on a mission to check its hospitable nature. An overconfident Buzz records his mission logs and is dismissive of rookies while on his mission and little does he realise that it’s this very attitude that is going to cost him and the rest of his team’s future on the uncharted planet of T’Kani Prime.
The planet is a host to monster vines and giant flying bugs and during one of his excavations with Commander Hawthorne when all hell breaks loose and Buzz continues to put himself and his belief of being the one-man rescue who can salvage any situation attitude, he ends up damaging the fuel cell, thus leaving himself and the whole science and tech crew working on the planet stranded with no way to return home again until they figure out how to fix the hyper-speed drive.
Disappointed with his actions causing a massive setback, Buzz sets out to take on the mission of solving the hyper-speed issue by nominating himself to take on test flights as multiple versions of hyper-speed testing continue over the years. Unfortunately, though, the test flight which consists of a 4-minute flight turns into. years-long wait for Buzz on T’Kani Prime as time dilation takes place. While Buzz returns the same, everyone else has aged 4 years. With each attempt, Buzz finds the habitants and his colleagues from T’Kani Prime ageing including Commander Hawthorne who also goes on to get engaged and have a child while Buzz continues to remain the same. Even as Buzz is yet to obtain the perfect crystal fuel formula, the ageing process of T’Kani Prime eventually results in Commander Hawthorne’s departure as an old woman with her granddaughter Izzy by her side.
Buzz’s hyper-drive issue to much of his surprise is eventually solved by Sox (voiced by Peter Sohn) who is a digital assistant kitten gifted to Lightyear by Hawthorne for emotional support. Sox finds the perfect recipe to the crystal fuel in 22 years and Buzz is finally able to figure out the hyper-speed issue but there’s something else waiting for him when he returns back from his test flight this time as T’Kani Prime is taken over by the Zurgs (massive robots). Buzz also finds himself in the unlikely company as he meets Alisha’s granddaughter Izzy (Keke Palmer), Mo (Taika Waititi)and Darby (Dale Soules) as the team of rookies he is left to work with. The question is, can Buzz finally ask for help and work as a team keeping his egomaniac side at bay.
Lightyear turns out to be a great celebration of the concept of collaboration. It’s not a novel concept for Pixar who are known to ingest the spirit of teamwork in most of their works. While Buzz is ready to put his personal life on a halt to complete the mission, he fails to realise that those around him have already moved on and made the most of their situations. It’s a reminder of how looking out for the greater good is more important than following commands. The fellowship that Buzz eventually forms with his underdogs gang of rookies consistsof Izzy (Palmer), who is afraid of space, Mo (Waititi) whose clumsiness more often than not lands them in trouble and Darby (Soules) an old broad who could pick up a weapon and work it without any terror makes for the film’s most entertaining and heartwarming bits.
Even as the emotional appeal of Lightyear doesn’t quite reach Toy Story standards, it does warm your heart enough to leave you with a smile as Buzz finally finds his way home, surely not the one he expected but the one he should have accepted a long time ago. What the film does manage to absolutely ace is its animation. Particularly love how technology gets a fun, humanising twist with confetti being blown out for successful missions and of course, the way the character of Sox is written. The cat is sure to win you over with its abilities to make even an otherwise narcissistic ranger like Buzz care for it.
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To follow Tim Allen’s incredible job from Toy Story films after he perfectly voiced the space ranger in the franchise for years, it must have been a tough one for Chris Evans but the actor does pull it off quite beautifully. The Captain America star knows well how to play a larger-than-life character with authority thanks to his Marvel experience and as for Buzz, he thinks no less of himself than the Captain America of space itself. He has a similar can-do attitude. Apart from Evans’ fine voice acting, there’s Keke Palmer who absolutely wins hearts with Izzy. She brings in the perfect amount of innocence in her voice that a rookie space ranger would have. Taika Waititi makes sure to bring enough laughs with his voice acting as Mo.
The Thanos of the space universe happens to be the massive robot Zurg who is voiced by Josh Brolin, whose voice perfectly captures the grandiosity of his character.
All in all, Lightyear is Pixar’s newest adventure film that will leave you with a warm heart and promise an entertaining ride timed at a perfect 1 hour 45 minutes. There is much to love in this origins story for Buzz. Strap on for a fun-filled ride to infinity and beyond while learning some key life lessons on the way.