Review of Pixar’s Latest, “Lightyear”

“In 1995, Andy received a Buzz Lightyear toy for his birthday from his favorite movie. This was that movie.” This text opens “Lightyear,” a prequel to the “Toy Story” films. Marking the feature directorial debut of Angus MacLane (a co-director on several recent Pixar titles), this film marks a stellar entry in the company’s many acclaimed films.

After being marooned on a distant planet in uncharted space, Buzz Lightyear (voice of Chris Evans) is assigned to do experimental test flights involving faster-than-light travel. When said test flights land Buzz 80 years in the future, he must forge a reluctant alliance with a young woman named Izzy Hawthorne (voice of Keke Palmer), a quirky recruit named “Mo” Morrison (voice of Taika Waititi) and an elderly ex-convict named Darby Steele (voice of Dale Soules) in order to find his way back home and combat the evil emperor Zurg (voice of James Brolin).

Taking cues from science fiction films of years past, the film’s visuals and story present an intriguing take on Buzz’s origin as a space ranger, while still respecting what made his appearances in the main “Toy Story” entries work to begin with. 

On a budget of $200 million, the film is a major artistic spectacle that draws parallels with the likes of the “Alien” series, the original “Star Wars” trilogy and the classic “2001: A Space Odyssey,” among many others. Though not quite on the same order of magnitude as the four main “Toy Story” films, it still contains a good amount of emotional weight and surprising plot details that shall not be spoiled here.

Marking the first theatrical wide release for Pixar since March 2020’s “Onward” (and “Soul,” “Luca” and “Turning Red” being first released as exclusives on Disney Plus), “Lightyear” is the ideal film to welcome Pixar back to the big screen. It’s a stellar prequel that takes its title character on a journey “to infinity and beyond.”

Starring the voices of Chris Evans, Keke Palmer, Taika Waititi, Dale Soules, and James Brolin

Directed by Angus MacLane

Rated PG

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