As a confessed die-hard Pixar fan on paper, it was great to finally see them back in cinemas. The joy of seeing that little bouncing lamp on the screen was designed to bring this viewer a pang of joy like few other media-related events in 2022. One just wishes it had been with a distinctly more interesting product. No getting around this. Well, Lightyear may not be as bad as some people will tell you it’s a distinctly more interesting film to discuss or misrepresent conceptually than watch. On paper, this being the in-universe feature film that was the inspiration for the toy line that eventually led to Andy being enamoured with Buzz Lightyear sounds just weird enough to be intriguing. In practice what Pixar has done here is make an incredibly straightforward space adventure with a new character that channels some of the same essence and catchphrases of his toy equivalent. Chris Evans’s voice work lacks the distinctly believable yet cartoonish approach that makes Tim Allen’s performance so iconic. If anything in a strange way the film fundamentally misunderstands what the appeal of the original Buzz Lightyear is. The deliberately gibberish mythology that the toy has been programmed to believe simply feeds into his delusions of grandeur. It’s what makes Tom Hanks’s delivery of “YOU ARE A TOY” as the hero’s drive towards Pizza Planet in the original so iconic. Thus making a film based on mythology that’s incoherently generic by design as part of the original humour has a ceiling in terms of final results. It’s hard not to feel that Lightyear definitively hits that ceiling. It’s not to say the new film doesn’t have merit. Pixar continues to creatively one-up themselves in terms of just how gorgeous their animation can feel from a presentation perspective. It’s truly stunning stuff that deserves the biggest screen humanly possible. The 3D transfer here is very solid. Offering strong depth and effective pop-out that these days can only be achieved in a theatrical presentation.
The full like a PG-rated interstellar crossed with the Netflix revival of Lost in Space. As a viewer who watched all three seasons of the latter, there’s something to be said for this kind of reliably solid family genre fare. That’s said when you have a product that is on some level trying to convince the audience of reasons for its existence simply being a solid three-star film will not cut it in this day and age. Especially given that we are dealing with Pixar here and there are the last three demonstrably better films to streaming. This author’s fandom for Pixar and Marvel means he will likely have a Disney Plus subscription for however long the service lasts. Projects like Lightyear would be a perfect fit for streaming. The fact the film has delivered relatively poor box office returns compared to expectations suggests that the pioneers of computer animation may or may not be confined to streaming for the time being. This is a sad state of affairs for a company that was originally ( and still is in some ways) the trendsetter for mainstream computer animation. Some viewers’ knowledge of the medium is largely based on Whatever was the last Pixar film that happened to be released. Much is Pixar has the roar aesthetic ability to make even a lower-tier project like this perfectly serviceable on its terms it’s broadly unremarkable.
Lightyear is that rare case where the memes and internet discourse and confusion around the premise or more interesting and engaging than the film itself. Mobius wishes its online presence could be anything like this engaging. Nevertheless in an age in which Pixar is still capable of achieving greatness Lightyear being their first theatrical release in three years doesn’t feel right. Needless to say, the three Pixar films before this sands theatrical release run circles around this lower tier ( but far from terrible) effort.