One of the earliest memories I have as a kid was watching the original Toy Story on VHS. Or listening to the book version on cassette tape. The bottom line is that Toy Story was a big part of my childhood, and at its heart were Sheriff Woody and Buzz Lightyear. Like most kids, I loved Woody and Buzz, but I think I liked Lightyear a little more.
Like many kids who dreamed of being astronauts, Buzz Lightyear seemed like the coolest as a kid. He was in video games, he had his own spin-off show; he was just awesome. So, when news came out that Pixar was making the actual movie that made Andy love Buzz, I was intrigued. Enough that I decided to see it two days early via the Andy Experience. Despite the review bombs, Lightyear manages to reach infinity…though not quite beyond.
Chris Evans Was a Good Fit. Change My Mind!
Firstly, it needs to be said that Chris Evans proved to be the best choice to voice Buzz. While fans complain about Tim Allen not coming back, Chris gives us a different kind of Buzz. While not as larger-than-life, Chris’ Lightyear is no less heroic. Early on, though, the film makes it clear that he’s not living up to his full potential.
Lightyear as a Flawed, Nuanced Character
Buzz Lightyear’s always been defined by his determination to finish his mission, no matter what version he is. However, the film reveals this determination comes at the cost of neglecting those around him. He thinks he can do things on his own, that he doesn’t need help, and that leads him to make mistakes that could be avoided. By the film’s halfway point, it costs him almost everyone he knew.
A hero’s only as good as the people helping them, and that’s essentially what Buzz learns in his character arc. It’s recycled from the cartoon’s pilot film, but it still works.
Good thing that Buzz’s team is pretty endearing. Sox is adorable and acts as this constant helping Buzz cope with his emotions. Izzy’s the one who really helps bring Buzz out of his emotional isolation. Darby makes for a good cynic. And Taika Watiti as Mo makes for good comic relief.
The character that proved to be just as interesting as Buzz, though, is Zurg. I can’t say too much about him without spoiling the big twist, but it was something that I did not expect. Good job, Pixar.
A Decent Flick for Toy Story Fans
So, the Lightyear movie isn’t anything groundbreaking, but it is still entertaining. It’s filled with callbacks and references to the Toy Story franchise, and does the character Justice. Pixar could make more films out of it if they wanted…but they probably shouldn’t. Or, at least make a movie finale to Woody’s Roundup.