Starring: Chris Evans, Keke Palmer, Peter Sohn, Taika Waititi, Dale Soules, James Brolin, Uzo Aduba, Mary McDonald-Lewis, Isiah Whitlock Jr., Bill Hader, and Efren Ramirez
Director: Angus MacLane
Lightyear is a nice addition to the Pixar filmography. Playing heavily as a sci-fi action film, that vibe carries the film’s successes and flaws. The visuals and set pieces are beautiful and tense, which create a steadily engaging pace, and Chris Evans nails the essence of Space Ranger Buzz Lightyear. His chemistry with Uzo Aduba (Alisha) and Keke Palmer (Izzy) is great. But the action focus left the storytelling feeling less cohesive than the usual Pixar fare. Nevertheless, a good Pixar film is a great film from most other studios, and this is no different. Oh, can we please get more Sox (Peter Sohn) EVERYTHING!!!
While I suppose Lightyear has some fun elements, the whole affair just feels a little trivial. Outside of Buzz’s (Chris Evans) robot cat, Sox (Peter Sohn), none of the side characters really connect, and the attempts at humor never get enough breathing room to be truly funny. It’s all a tad rushed, to be honest. Interestingly, this is Pixar’s first theatrical release after three straight-to-Disney+ releases, but it feels like the type of movie made specifically for the streaming platform. It comes across more as an IP-algorithm money grab and toy marketing device than a fully thought-out movie, which means kids will probably dig it.
Although it has its moments, Lightyear being “fun” or “solid” is barely enough to genuinely call it “good.” It works on its own terms, for sure, but those terms are fairly plain for an animated sci-fi adventure, as its storytelling never really reaches for something deeper except in gesture. There are some decent action sequences and fun side characters, but little innovation or emotional poignancy to cling to. Each slower moment passes quickly to the next joke or plot point, as if the film is afraid audiences will get bored. It’s not bad, but as Pixar goes, it’s decidedly average.
Lightyear is fine, I guess. The animation is stunning - not just life-like, but the sci-fi of it all looks incredible (if you’re gonna watch this, I suggest you see it in IMAX). All the characters are likable, especially Sox (Peter Sohn), who steals every scene, and the film has enough heart and entertainment to justify a watch. However, where it struggles for me is the story. The first two acts? I bought in, mainly because of some genuinely interesting ideas; Then the third act makes some odd choices that just took me out of it. Still, it’s a good time despite its flaws.