Lightyear traps Buzz in a psycho-space-horror and its miserable — 3/10

  • Lightyear is a madman surrounded by unlikable indifferent morons. Antagonist should have won.
  • The animation is great! Chris Evans did fine as Buzz. Sox the Robot Cat is likeable. A few jokes work.
  • It’s a little Aliens. Passengers. Interstellar. Star Wars Episode 1 all smashed together — hence the dystopian horror result. They even give the Space Rangers light sabre machetes.
  • Don’t think about it & you might be able to enjoy the animation.

Spoilers ahead

It’s A Psychological Horror ?

My biggest problem with Lightyear is that it’s just not a fun movie. It’s an awful, dark space horror. & the more I thought about it, the darker it got.

Almost everything about the movie conveys the message that it’s supposed all fun and light! It’s not. It’s an authoritarian dystopia that puts everything on Buzz, takes everything from him, and even after he — accidentally — succeeds with the help of his robot cat, nobody cares & he still has to prove his worth to get to keep anything from his old life. The ending feels like a placation rather than a victory. I couldn’t get that darkness out of my head. Poor Buzz.

I care about Buzz. I almost care about Hawthorne 1 — but she dies of old age. & I later realise she could have stopped him doing the test flights alone and averted the later plot. Which makes her kind of villainous to sacrifice Buzz like that. Weren’t they supposed to be friends? Why do you let him go on flight after flight when it is so obviously affecting him? She & the rest of the colony have at least a dozen chances over a literal lifetime to re-think… is this a good idea? No. They just die & let the next generation deal with it.

I don’t care about anybody else. The other early characters don’t get enough screen time — then all die of old age anyway. Burnside tries to kill his cat! Too many other minor characters are anonymized behind full-face masks. We never explore the colony. Impossible to care about. The 3 later squad characters are painfully useless. Imperfection is fine — this level of screw up shouldn’t even exist on a hostile planet. Literally how are they still alive?

Buzz is compelled to save them even against himself — because that’s who he is & he has nothing & no one else.

Of course he projects his (supposed) friend onto the granddaughter. The movie almost deals with the idea that she isn’t the same person — but diverts & puts Hawthorne Gen 3 in a space ranger suit at the end anyway. Just like nothing happened! It feels like a cosplay when they don’t match up in any way.

Does the colony finally accept that the power core is completed? That the entire Zurg situation was preventable if they’d just done some more simulations or actually listened to Buzz? Does he get an apology for being used while they hid away? No.

The threat from the hostile planet is never made real — as far as I can tell, nobody actually dies or is injured. Then mysteriously the planet ends up not being threatening anymore. Several later scenes they are out on the surface and… everything is fine? Why didn’t they just move the colony to the safe rocky area? Nor is the threat from the later Zurg antagonists made real. The robots are useless even against Squad Screw-up. The laser shield is totally effective and the colonists seem content to just sit inside there forever. But the effect of these threats on Buzz are all too real. Far too real & that’s the central plot of the movie.

Even conceptually, on paper, this movie doesn’t work for me. After all, he’s a parody toy. A foil for Woody amongst a large cast from another movie. His name is a reference to a real spaceman (Buzz Aldrin) & Zurg was a reference to another space movie (Darth Vader from Star Wars). It’s a joke. That’s not enough because it wasn’t supposed to be. Then they fail to flesh out anyone or anything else to fill those gaps and retcon Zurg to himself. His obliterated mental state inspires a 50 year crusade into the future and back & it’s not dealt with satisfactorily. It’s all Buzz, everything is on Buzz and it absolutely crushes him. Even though he’s supposed to have a whole colony to back him up.

Wasn’t he supposed to be a Space Ranger? — A colony ship doesn’t work because he’s too tied to the colony. Too preoccupied in protecting it & Squad Screw-Up to actually… range out! Into, ya know, space!

Being a test pilot doesn’t work because he’s just sat in a cockpit when he’s supposed to have a flying rocket suit! Which he gets to use exactly once. It stinks of checklist movie-making.

The could have dropped the Toy Story connection and just made a psychological space horror. Deal with it more believably, develop the colony and other characters more and free themselves from the constraints & expectations. Personally, I would have been OK with that. I might even have loved that.

This pains me. Because I was the generation that actually were little kids when the first Toy Story came out. Buzz Lightyear really was part of my childhood. Just like Andy. I played with actual Buzz Lightyear toys! The pop out wings & laser blaster were real child hood memories!

Instead of an authentic film, the whole thing seems like Disney/Pixar Corporation is too greedy and misses that toy licencing money from 27 years ago. Every box & reference is ticked. Dome suit, Wings, Add new suit variations, Zurg, Blaster. Add new accessories: laser machete, Pen! Bubble defence! Stealth mode! Add new side-kicks: cat robot. Stupid robot. Squad Screw Up! Add new space ship models! 5 of them! All nice and blocky and easy to mass produce.

It’s all well polished. But it doesn’t have the heart. It doesn’t make sense if these are real people. & I hated watching Buzz suffer like this.

My rating is 3/10 — painful to watch. Poor Buzz.

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