Earlier this month, Disney hosted an online media preview of Pixar’s upcoming 26th feature, Lightyear. Coming on the heels of last month’s coming-of-age masterpiece Turning Red, which regrettably didn’t receive a wide theatrical release, Lightyear is Pixar’s long overdue return to the big screen.
Having watched the opening act, I can say that the first 30 minutes deliver. Far from being a jokey spinoff, writer and director Angus MacLane (who previously directed the short BURN-E, and co-directed Finding Dory) shows his comfort with the sci-fi/action/adventure genre.
Sans spoilers, the movie begins with an Interstellar-esque time dilation plot. It’s a fantastic story device, and the script does a great job of not talking down to viewers unfamiliar with the scientific concept. We can ascribe some of that to producer Galyn Susman—a 32-year studio veteran—whose educational background includes a major in physics.
Another thing to expect from Lightyear is a lot of cool spacecraft and vehicles. Disney’s consumer products division has got to be celebrating. The appeal to kids will be huge, nevermind the grown-ups. MacLane is himself a well known LEGO enthusiast: he designed the 2015 LEGO Ideas WALL-E set.
Finally, yes, the visuals are excellent, especially when pushing the envelope on photorealism. (Check out the sequence progression above.) I was definitely left wanting to see more. Fortunately, we won’t have to wait much longer: Lightyear blasts off in less than two months, on June 17.
Watch the official trailer for Pixar’s Lightyear
A sci-fi action adventure and the definitive origin story of Buzz Lightyear (voice of Chris Evans), the hero who inspired the toy, Lightyear follows the legendary Space Ranger on an intergalactic adventure alongside a group of ambitious recruits (voices of Keke Palmer, Dale Soules and Taika Waititi), and his robot companion Sox (voice of Peter Sohn). Also joining the cast are Uzo Aduba, James Brolin, Mary McDonald-Lewis, Efren Ramirez and Isiah Whitlock Jr. Directed by Angus MacLane (co-director Finding Dory) and produced by Galyn Susman (Toy Story That Time Forgot), Lightyear releases June 17, 2022.