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    "Lightyear" Review: Chris Evans Shines As A "Real-Life" Buzz Lightyear

    To infinity and...a new cinematic universe.

    When Pixar first announced Lightyear (not that long ago, in 2020) and information about what the movie was about started to come out, I thought, Damn, that's a really great idea.

    Buzz Lightyear concentrating

    For those of you who don't know, Lightyear is a movie about Buzz Lightyear the "human" and not the toy. H/T to Chris Evans for making this LOL-worthy clarification on Twitter after the teaser release:

    And just to be clear, this isn’t Buzz Lightyear the toy. This is the origin story of the human Buzz Lightyear that the toy is based on

    Twitter: @ChrisEvans

    Although, to be even clearer, this isn't a live-action film. It's still CG. The idea is that this is what a live-action movie would be like within the universe of Toy Story, i.e., for the humans in Toy Story, like Andy. So, yeah, it's kinda meta.

    Buzz Lightyear in "Toy Story"

    OK, so now that you "get" what this movie is. Let's get into it! And FAIR WARNING, spoilers ahead.

    As always, I am not giving away any major plot twists, but if you want to go into this movie not knowing absolutely anything, then just bookmark this for later!

    Lightyear clearly sets the scene by informing audiences that in 1995 Andy was gifted a Buzz Lightyear toy (his favorite character from his favorite movie) and that THIS is that movie.

    A closeup fo Buzz Lightyear

    The opening sequence feels plucked out of a sci-fi adventure playbook. We meet our hero Buzz (Chris Evans), who loves to narrate his adventures in the first person (just like the toy!) and is consistently poked fun at for it by his best friend and commander, Alisha Hawthorne (Uzo Aduba). Buzz and Alisha are on a mission to explore an alien planet with a shipful of scientists, engineers, etc. in hypersleep.

    Buzz and Alisha walking together

    The planet turns out to be quite hostile, and soon disaster hits when Buzz makes a cocky decision that puts the lives of everyone aboard their spacecraft — lovingly dubbed "the turnip" because of its shape — at risk.

    the turnip planet

    Because of his mistake, Buzz, Hawthorne, and their entire crew become stranded on the hostile alien planet. Although, if Buzz has his way, they won't be for long... He hopes.

    Alisha pointing to Buzz

    Under Alisha's command, Buzz tries to figure out how to reach hyperspeed so that he can save their entire crew. But, it turns out, each test flight he attempts, which only takes four minutes in space, actually lasts four years back on the alien planet.

    Buzz Lightyear in space

    Despite failing to complete his mission each time, Buzz is blinded by his obsession with completing "the mission" and continues to test flight after test flight until...62 years (on the alien planet) have passed.

    Along the way, Buzz is gifted an adorable robot pal named Sox (Peter Sohn), who completely steals the show. Sox isn't just adorable, but he's smart (he prefers working on formulas for crystal fusion to chasing toy mice), and is something of a helpful Swiss Army knife Buzz — he has a lot of handy gizmos packed into that smol robot body.

    Sox looking up at Buzz Lightyear

    During his last attempt to reach hyperspace, Buzz crash lands back on the alien planet only to find it's taken a turn for the worse. The people and their self-made city have come under attack from a mysterious entity called Zurg (who fans will recall is Buzz's toy line nemesis in Toy Story 2).

    Zurg pointing his weapon arm

    Luckily, Buzz runs into Izzy Hawthorne (Keke Palmer), the granddaughter of his BFF Alisha, and she introduces him to her group of "self-motivated" cadets.

    Izzy Hawthorne

    What follows is a very paint-by-numbers adventure. There are battles with robots, close run-ins with aliens, and what feels like, for better or worse, nonstop action for the remainder of the film.

    Buzz Lightyear fighting Zurg

    While Lightyear is fun, some of the comedic setups do feel wedged in there. For example, there's a whole gag with a pen that, once it gets introduced, has you constantly thinking, OK, so when's this joke gonna pay off? because it is SO random.

    another astronaut

    And, if I have one actual major gripe, it's that some of the logic in the film doesn't really work. Without getting too into it, let's just say time travel ends up playing a factor, and if you think too hard about it, it won't make sense.

    Sox and Buzz Lightyear in space

    But, as usual, the animation in the film is absolutely stunning. Pixar outdoes itself with every new movie, and Lightyear continues that tradition. I mean the lighting alone in this scene kind of took my breath away (it looks SO REAL?!):

    Sox and Lightyear peeking at something

    And, of course, the star-studded talent all bring their A-game. Chris Evans is perfectly cast as a "real-life" version of who Buzz Lightyear would be (despite it still being an animated character, LOL).

    Buzz Lightyear talking

    The rag-tag cadets that help Buzz out — Mo (Taiki Waititi), Darby (Dale Soules), and Izzy — all have great comedic timing, and as I mentioned above, Sox is absolutely the best character in the whole movie... And, yes, I do want my very own Sox now.

    the crew sitting together

    Huge shoutout and props to Peter Sohn, who totally nailed it as the voice of Sox. He also happens to be a Pixar animator, story artist, and director (he directed The Good Dinosaur), BTW!


    If I'm being truly honest, Lightyear is not a home run for Pixar, and that may be because, as far as the storytelling goes, it treads on already very familiar sci-fi ground. However, it's still a really fun concept that, as executed, has lots of heart, fun family-friendly adventure, cute laughs, and even an existential message about life and the meaning of it. Did the movie make me laugh? Yes. Did it make my cry? Also yes! Is it worth the watch? Absolutely. 10/10 would recommend.

    Lightyear opens in theaters this Friday, June 17, and you can watch the official trailer here:

    View this video on YouTube

    Pixar / Via