By: Lana K. Wilson-Combs
As you might expect, Disney/Pixar's "Toy Story" spin-off, "Lightyear"
looks fantastic. The animated, space adventure from director/screenwriter Angus MacLane
("Finding Dory") comes up big in that department.
Yet, a movie loaded with so much voice talent, should be an absolute blast. Instead, it is rather pedestrian and lacks much of the fun and magic of "Toy Story."
In addition, "Lightyear" has so much going on story wise that it might zip right over the heads of little ones.
"Lightyear" tells the origin story of Buzz Lightyear. He's of course the character--voiced by Tim Allen--in the "Toy Story" series and the beloved action figure of the kid, Andy.
Well, apparently Andy saw Buzz in a space movie and loved him. That movie of course is "Lightyear." That's a nifty little premise to build upon, and "Lightyear" tries mightily, but it becomes convoluted and gets lost in space.
Buzz, now voiced by Chris Evans ("Don't Look Up" and "Free Guy") is a Space Ranger boldly going where no astronaut has gone before. He's also the narrator of the movie. When Buzz and his fellow Space Ranger Alisha Hawthorne (a commanding Uzo Aduba, "National Champions") and their silly sidekick Featheringhamstan (Bill Hader, TV's "Barry") set out on a mission and attempt to return to Earth, Buzz is sidetracked by an intriguing planet.
They land on it and decide to check it out. They soon discover it's not a welcoming environment and try to leave but they can't because Buzz messed up the ship's power source. Now, they are stranded. Buzz can't believe how careless he was and that he has jeopardized the safety of his crew.
There are humongous bugs on the planet that are threatening to kill them.
Buzz tries a risky experiment to get everyone home, but each time he does and doesn't succeed with it, he loses four years of time. Consequently, everyone around him is aging, except him.
What's up with that?
Looking to make amends for his mistake, Buzz takes on a new mission against the orders of Commander Burnside (a funny Isiah Whitlock Jr., "Da 5 Bloods") and forced to battle Alien robots under the rule of the mysterious emperor, Zurg (James Brolin, TV's "Sweet Tooth").
At first, Buzz is reluctant to work with the team that includes: Izzy Hawthorne (Keke Palmer, "Nope"), who is Alisha's very adult granddaughter, the insecure Mo Morrison (Taika Waititi, TV's "Reservation Dogs") and Darby Steel (Dale Soules, "Midday Black, Midnight Blue"), an elderly paroled convict. Of all the characters, Soules' is perhaps the oddest. She doesn't come across as a good representation of a senior citizen and her character seems so stereotyped. And for all the talk about the same sex scenes, well, they play rather heavy handedly and are shoe-horned into the plot.
If there is one bright spot in "Lightyear" it's Sox, a robotic cat (voiced by Peter Sohn, "Luca" and "The Good Dinosaur"). Sox is Buzz's companion and has special powers that can get him out of sticky situations. The pretty kitty also has some funny one-liners, and will no doubt be a must-have item for kids and a huge seller among Disney/Pixar merchandise.
Overall, "Lightyear" aims high, but it doesn't quite soar to infinity and beyond.
Be sure to catch my N2Entertainment.net movie talk segment on the Kitty O'Neal Show Fridays at 6:20 p.m. on radio station KFBK 93.1 FM and 1530 AM.
Watch This Trailer For "LIGHTYEAR"
Lana K. Wilson-Combs is a member of the Broadcast Film Critics Association (BFCA), The American Film Institute (AFI), and a Nominating Committee Voting Member for the NAACP Image Awards.