‘Before he was Andy’s favourite toy, he was in Andy’s favourite movie… this is that movie’, declares the opening of Lightyear. Got that?
Essentially, this isn’t a straight Toy Story prequel. Instead, it’s on a mission to deliver classic sci-fi action, starring not the plastic Buzz Lightyear toy voiced by Tim Allen that we know and love from Toy Story, but the fictional human hero who inspired it (now voiced by Chris ‘Captain America’ Evans).
The animated origin story sees Captain Buzz Lightyear marooned with his crew on a hostile planet, 4.2 million light-years from Earth, after Buzz’s maverick heroics go wrong.
As Buzz doggedly tries to return home, burning through his team’s resources, he eventually learns that there’s no ‘I’ in team, to ask for help, to embrace his mistakes… In fact, a little less learning and a little more fun wouldn’t have gone amiss in Lightyear, which is ultimately a bit of a downer.
Buzz and his crew are stuck on this godawful rock for the entire movie and ultimately just have to lump it.
One could argue this is a clear-eyed and enlightened view on life, and it certainly gives the impression of being made by adults who have undergone a lot of self-help. What it isn’t is a thrilling space adventure you can possibly imagine being an eight-year-old boy’s favourite film.
On the plus side, it’s a Pixar movie, which means it’s lovingly animated with an obligatory heart-tugging sequence about loss, guaranteed to make adults weep. It also gets the thumbs up for representation.
Most notably, Buzz’s commander (Uzo Aduba) is an openly gay (and happily married) African-American woman. It’s also got Taika Waititi in the cast, which is never a bad thing, even when he’s voicing an irritating klutz.
The whole concept is flawed. What made Buzz Lightyear so loveable was that he was a delusional toy who believed he was a space hero. Without that you’re left with a one-dimensional, square-jawed astronaut with overachievement issues.
Thankfully, Buzz isn’t the real star of this show. Limelight is entirely stolen
by Sox (Peter Sohn), Buzz’s mechanical pet cat and stroke of merchandising genius, who’s already top of my Christmas list.
Out Friday in cinemas.