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Lightyear — Buzz’s True Story, The Toy Story Spin-Off Takes Us To Infinity And Beyond

The Toy Story franchise has always shared Woody’s point of view. Today, after almost twenty years, Buzz gets his spotLightyear.

This marvellous computer-animated toy saga began back in 1995 with the first Toy Story produced by Pixar Animation Studios and released by Walt Disney Pictures, that was directed by John Lasseter (at the time it was his feature directorial debut). The film introduced us to the special friendship between an old-fashioned pull-string cowboy doll named Woody and a modern astronaut action figure, Buzz Lightyear. They were initial rivals competing for the affections of their owner, Andy Davis, but their relationship blossomed into a magnificent bromance that endured in the following sequels. In the 1999 Toy Story 2 (directed again by John Lassater), Woody was stolen by a toy collector, and his friend Buzz lead his mates in the rescue mission. The 2010 Toy Story 3, directed by Lee Unkrich (the editor of the first two films), showed how Woody tried to rekindle the rapport between Any and his toys, after the latter were mistakenly delivered to a day-care centre and thought they had been abandoned by their owner. We left the feats of this world of play in 2019, with Toy Story 4 directed by by Josh Cooley (in his feature directorial debut), when a new toy called “Forky” joined Woody, Buzz and the rest of the gang on a road trip alongside old and new friends.

This spin-off tributes the toy that Andy loved so much because he watched Lightyear growing up. Lightyear — Buzz’s True Story, directed by Angus MacLane (co-director of Finding Dory), tells the origins of the legendary Space Ranger who inspired the Toy Story doll. The narrative begins when Buzz (Chris Evans) is stuck with his crew on a hostile planet at 4.2 millions of light years from Earth.

TEAMING UP – Directed by Angus MacLane (co-director “Finding Dory”) and produced by Galyn Susman (“Toy Story That Time Forgot”), “Lightyear” releases June 17, 2022. © 2022 Disney/Pixar. All Rights Reserved.

Through the mesmerising soundtrack signed by award-winning Michael Giacchino (who composed the music for The Batman and Spider-Man: No Way Home), audiences get acquainted with new characters, such as Commander Alisha Hawthorne (Uzo Aduba), bionic cat Sox (Peter Sohn), and the Junior Zap Patrol self-motivated cadets: Izzy Hawthorne (Keke Palmer), Mo Morrison (Taika Waititi), Darby Steel (Dale Soules). There are also the unfathomable Zurg (James Brolin) and his army of ruthless robots, the onboard computer I.V.A.N. (Mary McDonald-Lewis), Commander Burnside (Isiah Whitlock Jr.), Airman Diaz (Efren Ramirez), and Young Izzy (Keira Hairston).

Beyond the USA, the foreign versions of Lightyear have already created a Buzz. In fact, during the Monaco Formula 1 Grand Prix — that took place on Sunday 29th May in Monte Carlo — the logo of the Disney and Pixar Lightyear film appeared on the Scuderia Ferrari single-seaters, as well as on the helmet and overalls of Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz who have cameos respectively in the Italian and Spanish version of the animated feature film.

No matter what voice or language brings to life Buzz Lightyear, spectators can relate to him because he is ambitious but also vulnerable. Just like the rest of us, he is utterly fallible. This is probably why it has always been easier to identify with this daydreaming character, rather than with the perfectly resolved Woody. Whilst the Sheriff rag doll represented the inspirational character, the Space Ranger is the aspirational character, the hero who, despite his interstellar enterprises, is extremely human. Flaws, fears, resilience are just a few of the many traits that spectators can identify with. Above all, Buzz still maintains his ability to see the world in his own way, albeit his astronomical adventures he still withholds his visionary nature. After all, he is the one who made legendary the motto “To infinity and beyond.

EVIL EMPEROR –  Featuring the voices of Uzo Aduba, James Brolin, Mary McDonald-Lewis, Keke Palmer, Efren Ramirez, Peter Sohn, Dale Soules, Taika Waititi and Isiah Whitlock Jr., “Lightyear” releases June 17, 2022. © 2022 Disney/Pixar. All Rights Reserved.

The premise creates high expectations, but along the way the sci-fi element of time dilation gets in the way and the interactions amongst characters becomes stodgy. The film tries to emulate other audiovisual narratives where alter-egos populate parallel dimensions, such as Lost In Space or Doctor Strange In The Multiverse Of Madness. Through it all, Buzz comes to the understanding that no man is an island and he can’t save the world on his own, but this message is light years away from the empathetic way the Toy Story films managed to  convey that same idea effectively moving viewers.

Nevertheless, this intergalactic animation is the supreme expression of a positive can-do attitude in the face of adversity. Although the story is set in space, it mirrors the endeavours we all confront on planet Earth. Throughout our lifetime we need to deal with wrong decision-making, it’s up to us whether to look backwards with regret and remorse or rise like phoenixes projecting ourselves into the future. As director Angus MacLane effectively explains through his film: “Life is never what we plan for. It’s not about dwelling on the past and wishing things were different — that seems like a waste of time.

Final Grade: B

Check out more of Chiara’s articles.

Chiara Spagnoli Gabardi
Chiara Spagnoli Gabardihttps://www.cinemadailyus.com
Works as film critic and journalist who covers stories about culture and sustainability. With a degree in Political Sciences, a Master’s in Screenwriting & Film Production, and studies at the Lee Strasberg Theatre & Film Institute, Chiara has been working in the press since 2003. Italian by blood, British by upbringing, fond of Japanese culture since the age of 7, once a New Yorker always a New Yorker, and an avid traveller, Chiara collaborates with international magazines and radio-television networks. She is also a visual artist, whose eco-works connect to her use of language: the title of each painting is inspired by the materials she upcycles on canvas. Her ‘Material Puns’ have so far been exhibited in four continents, across ten countries. She is a dedicated ARTivist, donating her works to the causes and humanitarians she supports, and is Professor of Phenomenology of Contemporary Arts at Istituto Europeo di Design in Milan.


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