Wednesday, June 15, 2022

No classic but 'Lightyear' proves likable

 The Pixar universe keeps expanding. Based on a character developed in 1995's Toy Story, Lightyear begins by telling us that young Andy (remember him?) received a Buzz Lightyear action figure after seeing the movie that we're about to watch. Andy loved the that movie.
  Me? I’d say it’s more “like” than “love.”
  I guess that suggests a touch of disappointment. The expectations for Pixar movies remains high and the Toy Story franchise has endeared itself to both parents and children. 
  But, hey, “like” isn’t nothing.
  The movie finds Buzz (voice by Chris Evans) as full of himself as ever. He and his fellow Space Rangers have traveled to a distant planet where a mistake by Buzz strands his fellow voyagers, some of whom were hibernating on Buzz's ship. 
  A chastened Buzz must then wrestle with an epic-sized helping of guilt. Buzz, after all, isn't supposed to fail.
  Buzz's hoped-for redemption involves being able to fly at hyper-speed, which -- should he accomplish the task-- will enable him to save those he stranded on a forbidding planet which hosts lethal insects and vines that latch onto human prey. 
   Buzz keeps trying but each time he returns to base, everyone else but him has aged. He's gone for four minutes but those who remained behind have aged four years.
   This includes Buzz's buddy Capt. Alisha Hawthorne (Uzo Aduba), a Space Ranger who marries a woman and becomes the matriarch of a couple of generations of space dwellers. Lesbianism is handled simply: It exists. No big deal.
   Eventually, Hawthorne's granddaughter Izzy (Keke Palmer) will form a ragtag crew with Darby Steel (Dale Soules), a felon with experience in explosives, and Mo Morrison (Taika Waititi), another in the movie's group of unlikely heroes.
    Evans, by the way, takes over for Tim Allen who did the Buzz voice work in previous Toy Story movies.
    Despite its sci-fi trappings, Lightyear isn't Pixar's most adventurous effort even though Buzz isn't a toy in this movie. He's a character in a futuristic adventure that gives him a robot companion, a cat named SOX (Peter Sohn). 
   Gifted with great computational powers, SOX proves a better problem solver than Buzz, who prides himself on finding solutions when the going gets tough.
   Eventually, Buzz learns to trust his new pals but not not before confronting Zurg (Josh Brolin), an emperor who  may remind you of evil imperial space characters from other movies.
   Director Angus MacLane (Finding Dory) may not have reached the stars with this one but Lightyear‘s animation upholds Pixar's standards of quality while telling a story that keeps us involved.

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