By: Amanda Guarragi
“To infinity… and beyond!”
For those born in 1995 (like myself), Toy Story was something special. Our generation grew up with Andy and his toys. So to see this franchise get bigger and better as the years go on is great. Lightyear has been a long time coming and it makes sense for the Buzz Lightyear toy to have his origin story displayed on the big screen. Yes, this film is made for everyone, but it also felt oddly personal for 90s babies. Maybe, I’m just an emotional person when it comes to Pixar, but this just felt different. It was a weird mix of nostalgia and a brand new story for the Buzz we know and love. What worked so well is that the Buzz Lightyear in Toy Story and the Buzz Lightyear in his origin story both had the same character development. Those callbacks to the toy version made Lightyear special.
In his original adventure, Buzz Lightyear (Chris Evans) embarks on an intergalactic adventure with a group of ambitious recruits and his robot companion. The story is straightforward and has many obstacles for Buzz along the way. Lightyear is dedicated to the Space Ranger program and thinks that is what defines him at the beginning of this film. He has his best friend, Alisha Hawthorne (Uzo Aduba) who is with him every step of the way. And in true Pixar fashion, within seconds, we understand how strong their friendship is. Some beautiful, heartfelt moments between the characters show the importance of having the right support system around you. Once, Alisha’s granddaughter Izzy Hawthorne (Keke Palmer) comes into the mix, the pressure of fulfilling a legacy is also shown. In a way, Izzy and Buzz both help each other understand their place in the world.
Naturally, when we think of Buzz Lightyear, we think of Tim Allen. But now, hearing Chris Evans voice the original character that the toy is based on, it’s impossible to hear anyone else. Evans has always wanted to be in a Pixar movie and having him play one of the most iconic Pixar characters is perfect casting. Voice acting can be difficult because of the line delivery, but Evans made it seem effortless. It’s almost like you could see him saying the lines as we saw Buzz on screen. He was so expressive and just so wonderful as Lightyear. This works because Evans is such a likable actor and Buzz is an iconic character, so it feels like a comforting combination. Similar to Evans, Keke Palmer was a joy to watch as Izzy and she matched Evans’s energy. Having both of them on two different journeys with one common connection made for an interesting dynamic.
Lightyear has stunning animation that will take you into space with Buzz Lightyear. Pixar has perfected its animation and it has gotten to the point where it seems so lifelike. The scenes in space, especially on an IMAX screen feel so epic in scale. Animation can always push the boundary a bit more than live-action and that’s why it added a different feeling when watching this on the big screen. Even though the story may feel a bit generic, the emotional connection with Buzz and the Hawthornes moves the story along. The one character that will be everyone’s favourite after watching this movie is Sox. He is a little robotic cat, that Alisha got for him as his emotional space companion. Buzz learns to love Sox and the two of them make a great pairing throughout the film. This movie is fun for the whole family and is something old Toy Story fans will appreciate because it will make them feel like a kid again.
Lightyear will be released in theatres Friday, June 17th.