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Lightyear Movie Review: Relies more on nostalgia than novelty- Cinema express

Lightyear Movie Review: Relies more on nostalgia than novelty

Lightyear ends up being a conventional origin story of a lovable character who should have had more to do than just feeling like a fish out of water

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Published: 18th June 2022
Lightyear Movie Review: Relies more on nostalgia than novelty

How Hollywood transforms a franchise into a cash cow is something worth a case study and the latest example, Lightyear, is a brilliant idea when it comes to exploring multiple avenues for the IP at hand. For many of us who grew up with a healthy dose of Pixar films, Toy Story has been synonymous with animated films involving non-human characters and while the new release can fall under several categories such as 'spin-offs' and 'origin stories', there's more to Lightyear than meets the eye. In 1995 we were introduced to Andy and his chest full of toys and figurines. While Woody the cowboy was the more grounded character, we also got Buzz Lightyear, a space ranger toy who comes to life and first considers Andy's room as a foreign planet, before joining hands with Woody and co to have their own adventures. Lightyear the film though falls under this brilliant space as it's a film based on which the Buzz toy that Andy plays with, is created. Talk about going meta in style!

Cast: Chris Evans, Keke Palmer, Peter Sohn, James Brolin, Taika Waititi, Dale Soules
Director: Angus MacLane

Lightyear follows the trials and tribulations of Buzz Lightyear (voiced by Chris Evans), a Galactic Ranger in Star Command whose persistence to do everything by himself causes his ship and its hyper-sleeping crew to be stranded on an unknown planet that's populated by bug-like creatures and vines that just love pulling people around. When he tries to undo his fault and does a hyperdrive test, the four-minute unsuccessful ride for him ends up being four years for the newly formed colony thanks to time dilation. Repeated tries by Buzz cause him to stay the same age but also go through the pain of seeing his friends turn old and eventually die. When he finally cracks the right fuel composition, 62 years, seven months and five days have passed and he has to go against the odds to complete his mission with a new crew who are anything but helpful. 

Lightyear is an extremely simple tale that's made watchable with callbacks and references to the character as well as the actor who has voiced the role. Pixar, which started its journey with Toy Story, is known for its uncomplicated yet extremely intriguing and heart-warming stories but Lightyear fails to deliver on both those aspects. The film has quite a straightforward plot and relies on the unique Pixar humour which couldn't bear the weight of the film. 

Despite a number of characters crowding the screen, apart from Buzz, it's the robotic feline Sox (voiced by Peter Sohn) who wins our hearts. What works for the film is the niftily added easter eggs which bring in a sense of the much-expected nostalgia. We get ample 'to infinity and beyond' lines, a heroic scene involving Buzz trying out his jetpack for the first time and even a reference to Woody when our titular hero asks if he should "lasso the sun". The film also pays homage to several space and sci-fi films like Aliens, Predators, Terminator and 2001: A Space Odyssey. The fact that Buzz, after his doomed attempts to reach hyper speed, becomes a man who lands in a different time feels like a direct reference to Evans' Captain America in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

Speaking of Marvel, the film also has not one, or two, but three post-credit sequences that establish how the makers are planning on making this into a standalone franchise as well. The film should have been an introduction to the newer generations of the amazing franchise while being a nostalgic ride for elders who love the Toy Story films. But Lightyear ends up being a conventional origin story of a lovable character who should have had more to do than just feeling like a fish out of water. While the sequel has the possibility to be a better film with a much more interesting plot, Lightyear leaves you wishing that this film had more to deliver before the makers started concentrating on infinity and beyond. 

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