“To infinity…”Buzz Lightyear
Lightyear is the real film based on the fake toy from a real movie who thinks he’s a real person from a fake film which they have now really made. That convoluted (yet technically accurate) description demonstrates how unnecessary a film this is, but as Pixar exhausts the Toy Story franchise it is now looking to spin-offs for brand recognition. Based on the animation style, Lightyear would presumably have been a live-action film within the fiction of the first Toy Story, and perhaps fittingly it feels like an utterly generic sci-fi family film from the 1990s as Buzz takes on robot antagonists with the help of a handful of rookie Space Rangers. There is much to appreciate visually, from soft lighting diffusing through varied skintones to the weathering detail on aged space suits. Technical merits aside, this may be one of the least ambitious stories Pixar has ever told. Although it briefly sets up an interesting time dilation concept as Buzz tests hyperspace fuels, years passing each time he returns to the planet, Lightyear exhausts its creativity within the first act. In two hours it does little to advance Buzz’s character beyond a touchingly poignant gloss to his most famous catchphrase. Though unlikely to be profitable directly, Lightyear will presumably succeed through merchandising with a varied set of space-suited characters and a very cute robot cat, and perhaps Disney’s budgeting requires the studio to make a film like this to fund others like Soul. I am not sure there is quite enough here to keep kids fully entertained for two hours; adults, even accounting for nostalgia, will certainly feel like they have seen this all before.