BRIAN VINER: Buzz Lightyear spin-off lacks Toy Story’s dazzling wit and charm

LIGHT YEAR:

Evaluation:

For those of us who adore Toy Story animated movies, expectations for Pixar’s newest spin-off stretch comfortably to infinity and beyond. Maybe even further.

But my hopes were shattered on Earth within the first 15 minutes or so of yesterday’s early screening and as the end credits rolled I found myself looking for a word never used before in conjunction with a Pixar movie, at least not by me.

The film takes place on a hostile planet millions of light-years from Earth.  Buzz (voiced by American actor Chris Evans) and his crew are forced to crash there

The film takes place on a hostile planet millions of light-years from Earth. Buzz (voiced by American actor Chris Evans) and his crew are forced to crash there

I found Lightyear to be, yes, boring. In fairness, many others disagreed. And there’s still a good chance that the famous battle cry, “To Infinity and Beyond,” first popularized by space ranger Buzz Lightyear in the first Toy Story (1995), actually reflects the hopes of accountants at Pixar’s parent company, Disney.

The film should make a fortune at the box office. Yet, from where I sat, Lightyear was largely devoid of the captivating wit and irresistible charm that enriches all four Toy Story images.

That doesn’t mean it’s not embraced with technical genius – some of the animation is spectacular.

But taking Buzz out of his usual surroundings and portraying him as an actual astronaut in a wacky tale of travel through space and time somehow diminishes his strength as a character.

Plus, depriving him of his darling toybox companions — like Woody the Cowboy and Mr Potato Head — means he effectively has to carry this movie all on his own.

Unfortunately, even his broad shoulders are no match for it. Lightyear is billed as an ‘origin story’ and in a sense, as we’re told at the start it was the movie that made Buzz such a hero to young Andy, the owner of the iconic toys, there’s all these years.

It takes place on a hostile planet millions of, you guessed it, light years from Earth. Buzz (voiced by American actor Chris Evans) and his crew are forced to crash-land there, and because Buzz considers it his fault, he takes responsibility for bringing them down as well.

“To Infinity and Beyond,” first popularized by space ranger Buzz Lightyear in the original Toy Story (1995), will reflect the hopes of accountants at Pixar’s parent company Disney . The film should make a fortune at the box office

He duly becomes a test pilot, attempting to achieve “hyperspeed”, which is the only way for them to escape. But his test flights trigger a phenomenon called “time dilation”.

That means what feels like four seconds is actually four years, so by the time he returns, his commanding officer and dear friend Alisha Hawthorne (Uzo Aduba) has met the love of his life and is on his way. to marry.

The good folks at Pixar then leverage their credentials by casting Alisha’s wife as another woman, with whom — one would assume via a sperm donor, though the animator reasonably leaves that detail to the imagination — she becomes later a co-mother.

This LBGTQ dimension would have caused the film to be banned in the United Arab Emirates and other Muslim countries. I wish I could say it’s their downfall.

With Alisha’s entire lifespan thus compressed, Buzz finds himself associating with her granddaughter Izzy (Keke Palmer), an aspiring space ranger hampered by “astrophobia”.

Also in his gang is a robotic cat called Sox (Peter Sohn), who gets most of the movie’s best sight gags as Buzz and co try to outsmart the menacing Emperor Zurg (James Brolin).

As all die-hard fans will recall, Zurg first made an appearance as Darth Vader’s mickey jack in Toy Story 2 (1999).

Lightyear is billed as an ‘origin story’ and in a sense, as we’re told at the start, it was the movie that made Buzz such a hero to young Andy, the owner of the iconic toys, he all those years ago

Director and co-writer Angus MacLane certainly does his best to pay homage to the original film and its sequels, but I’m afraid a lot of Lightyear will go way over the heads of the age group still, presumably, intended for the target audience.

I wouldn’t try to explain the plot to a nine-year-old, especially a metaphysical encounter between Buzz and his older self.

However, this is not my main objection. Watching all four Toy Story films, I couldn’t help but splutter with delight. This time, alas, the biggest challenge was suppressing the yawns.

Lightyear hits theaters on Friday.