Pixar returns to theaters in a big way this week with Lightyear, the Angus MacLane-directed origin story of everybody’s favourite space ranger. This is the movie, we are told, that Toy Story’s Andy would have seen.
To nobody’s surprise, Lightyear is powerfully animated. Scenes of warp travel, impactful close-ups, and some unnerving ‘insectoids’ bring a lot of fun. Chris Evans was the perfect choice to play Buzz in this alternative world.
The story is solid enough too, with a nicely executed time dilation plot. And despite its highly meta premise, Lightyear doesn’t feel self-referential. With a few tweaks this could have been an original Pixar story without any reference to the Toy Story series.
Watch a clip from Pixar’s Lightyear:
But the reveal of Zurg in the second half felt like a missed opportunity to commence a Lightyear saga with an evil, not simply misguided, villain. (Stay until the very end of the end credits; Pixar is thinking sequels.) It also felt too reminiscent of sci-fi films like 2016’s Star Trek Beyond and the 2019 Brad Pitt downer Ad Astra.
Still there’s quite a bit to like, not least of which is Sox, Buzz’s feline robot companion. Voiced by the inimitable Peter Sohn, Sox definitely needs his own Disney+ series.
Lightyear is worth seeing in IMAX, especially if you are near a large-format IMAX screen. (As many moviegoers know, not all IMAX screens are equal.) Taking advantage of the immersive aspect ratio at key moments, the massive picture pulls you into the action. In any case, watch Lightyear on the largest screen you can.
Lightyear opens in theaters June 17.