Lightyear | movie review
To infinity and... struggling to get beyond
Movie summary: While spending years attempting to return home, marooned Space Ranger Buzz Lightyear encounters an army of ruthless robots commanded by Zurg who are attempting to steal his fuel source. (IMDb)
First things first: after seeing Lightyear, I really want Pixar to make a Mass Effect movie now. It'll never happen, but this is such a good-looking sci-fi action-adventure movie that my mind couldn't help but mull over the potential. Of course, my mind was wandering because this movie isn't exactly great at holding your attention, regardless of how good it looks.
That's not to say it's bad, but this movie really does feel like a tie-in for the sake of adding yet another piece to the larger Toy Story puzzle rather than because someone had a genuinely worthwhile story they wanted to tell. Or, maybe they did have a story they wanted to tell, but the execution is so lacking that I doubt anyone will notice what the story is about at all.
Watching Lightyear, I couldn't help but wish that it wasn't a Pixar movie and therefore targeted at a younger audience. I think there's a really good dramatic science-fiction story that could've been told with the set-up this movie has - and some of the plot points that play out - but we were never going to get that with a Toy Story-related movie and that's a crying shame.
There's a lot of humour here, a lot of which misses rather than hits and, even when it does hit, there's nothing here that'll prompt anything more than maybe a smile rather than forcing a laugh - well, maybe it'll make kids laugh, but I'm actually kind of doubting that too. It doesn't help that the humour just feels completely at odds with the more serious stuff and even the more successful jokes still feel like they're detracting from the experience.
Then you have to take Buzz Lightyear himself, voiced here by Chris Evans, who is barely a character. Don't get me wrong, he has a goal and the motivation to strive for it, but we barely learn anything about him as a person. Evans' delivery is fine, but he's not really given much to work with - Buzz is great at driving the plot forwards, but not much more than that.
The rest of the cast kind of fall into the same trap, with a couple of defining characteristics each apparently thought of by the director and the team behind this movie as a suitable replacement for giving them personalities. Again, I can't really fault the performers or their deliveries - what can you do when you're given lines that simply reinforce whatever archetype each character is supposed to represent.
I know it sounds like I'm really laying into Lightyear, but I think it's because it could've easily been so much better than it turned. What we've got is fine, and I don't feel that my time was wasted watching it - 'watching it' being the key phrase here as this movie really is fricking gorgeous at times - but neither is it something I'd want to watch again in a hurry.
Lightyear feels like a missed opportunity and is a bit of a tonal mess to boot - it feels like the premise would've suited a much more serious movie in order to hit the emotional beats it's clearly targeting, but I don't think we were ever going to get that from a Pixar movie and the humour doesn't really balance that well with the drama, leaving a movie that won't last too long in the memory.