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REVIEW: ‘Lightyear’ lacks the Pixar magic

Sean I. Mills
Staff writer
email / twitter
Posted 6/26/22

“Lightyear” is what you get when not even beloved animation studio Pixar is trying very hard. It’s no “Toy Story.”

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REVIEW: ‘Lightyear’ lacks the Pixar magic


“Lightyear” is what you get when not even beloved animation studio Pixar is trying very hard. It’s no “Toy Story.”

I don’t think there’s anything inherently wrong in the ideas behind “Lightyear,” I just don’t think anybody tried too hard in putting this film together. This feels like one of those movies where the studio had an original idea and an original script, then decided to slap on the familiar character and name to try to sell more tickets.

Based on the “Toy Story” action figure Buzz Lightyear, the movie “Lightyear” is the origin story of the actual space ranger character. Marooned on a strange planet with an entire city’s worth of people, space ranger Buzz Lightyear struggles against both an army of evil robots and his own self-worth to find a way to get everybody back home.

Don’t let the complicated premise confuse you, because “Lightyear” doesn’t have anything to do with “Toy Story” or the little boy or the action figure. “Lightyear” is its own film about a lonely hero struggling with failure and learning to work with a team, while also fighting against dangerous odds and that aforementioned army of evil robots.

I don’t have any proof, but it really does feel like the top brass at Pixar and Disney took a generic script about a space hero and decided to add a few tweaks to make it about Buzz Lightyear. They’re no fools when it comes to brand recognition.

The real problem is that they didn’t start with a very good script.

Everything in “Lightyear” is pretty basic and unoriginal. The main characters, the supporting characters, the villains, the plot, the lessons learned; it’s all simple and predictable, all something you’ve seen before in other movies, done better. There are no unique or creative visuals that set “Lightyear” apart. There are no really exciting or memorable action sequences.

The movie is even lacking that distinctive pulling of the heartstrings that Pixar is famous for. It’s lacking all of that Pixar magic.

I would like to say that “Lightyear” is fine and watchable, but I don’t want to steer you down that direction. This is a very grounded and, at times, gloomy movie that’s far more about personal reflection and facing your demons than it is about heroic space rangers fighting evil and saving the day. I wouldn’t even consider this a “kids movie” because of how ultimately somber it can be.

There are plenty of gags and basic humor, and the movie has a robot cat added to the film specifically to appeal to children. But I can’t imagine any little boy or girl watching “Lightyear” and then rushing to the toy store to buy a Buzz Lightyear action figure. This isn’t that kind of movie.

You’re better off just watching all the “Toy Story” movies over again.

“Lightyear” is currently only playing in theaters, but you’re better off waiting for it to come to streaming on Disney+.

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