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'Lightyear' launches Toy Story franchise to infinity and beyond

By Mike Diez Published Jun 17, 2022 1:56 pm

Coming into the opening night of Pixar’s latest animated movie, Lightyear, I decided to not read anything about the movie.

Much like you, I did wonder what it’s about: Is it about the "real world" person that the Buzz Lightyear space ranger toy from the Toy Story franchise is supposed to be based on? Where would this movie fit in the franchise?

Thankfully, Lightyear plainly explained it at the beginning of the movie.

Bear with me: Andy’s (the kid from the Toy Story franchise) Buzz Lightyear toy is based on his favorite movie. That movie is Lightyear. Essentially, we’re all Andy as we watch the movie!

The movie starts out with Buzz (Chris Evans) and fellow space ranger Alisha Hawthorne (Uzo Aduba) commandeering a ship full of scientists as they explore an alien planet. They soon find that the planet is filled with hostile creatures and deadly flora. In his hubris, Buzz makes a crucial mistake trying to pilot the ship as they escape and leaves the whole crew marooned on the planet.

A ship full of scientists sure is handy when you’re trapped on a strange planet. They were able to colonize the new world and mine its resources.

But Buzz is determined to get everyone back to Earth, and he goes on a flight mission to test hyper speed. When he returned to the colony, four years have passed due to time dilation.

For Buzz, only minutes have passed. Yet every time he comes back from a test flight, every one grows older. Buzz’s test flights continue until a new threat emerges in the form of Zurg (James Brolin) and his army of nasty robots. Yes, we also get the origins of Zurg in this movie.

If it seems I have divulged too much of the plot, bear in mind that this is Pixar.

At its heart, Lightyear is a story about human connections amid strange circumstances. It tells the story of ties that bind human beings together, and how we rely on one another to achieve ay kind of success.

Lightyear has some interesting twists that make the story all the more compelling.

At its heart, Lightyear is a story about human connections amid strange circumstances. It tells the story of ties that bind human beings together, and how we rely on one another to achieve any kind of success. In a way, the story circles back to Toy Story’s Buzz, in that he starts out with an oversized hero complex and ends up realizing he needs to become a team player to accomplish lofty goals.

Chris Evans brings a stoic, single-minded Buzz Lightyear to life in this movie. Evans’s fellow MCU star Taika Waititi voices a clumsy space-ranger-wannabe, joining a cast of ragtag trainees who help Buzz find his ultimate redemption. Everyone is also raving about Buzz’s sidekick Sox, a robotic cat that delivers some genuine laughs throughout the movie.

The world Pixar built on Lightyear is incredible. The textures on the animation felt tactile. You can almost feel the toy in your hands as you watch the movie. The glorious space scenes in Lightyear can rival those seen in big budget sci-fi films. Yet you can sense director and writer Angus Maclane toning the effects down enough to make it still look like a movie for kids.

The time travel plot might have some adult viewers think this movie is for them, thus making them expect more out of an already complex concept for kids.

But I can imagine myself as a six- or eight-year old getting wide-eyed at Lightyear and creating core memories out of the experience. And this is where Pixar excels at, creating incredible movies for kids while acknowledging the adults that accompany them.

Lightyear has been making news lately due to some countries banning it due to a certain scene. That is a shame. The movie certainly stands on its own merits, and is certainly the kind of popcorn movie we all deserve after having lost two years due to the snap we call the pandemic. 

There are three post-credit scenes in Lightyear, with the last one hinting at a possible sequel.

Kudos to Pixar for finding new ways to mine its Toy Story franchise and create a spinoff that’s fresh and original. Lightyear opens the possibility of a Woody spinoff, or Duke Caboom movie. The possibilities can go to in…well, you know the rest.

Lightyear is certainly the kind of popcorn movie we all deserve after having lost two years due to the snap we call the pandemic. 

Special thanks to AXN and Skechers Philippines. Lightyear is now showing in cinemas in the Philippines.