opinion | Buzz Lightyear finally got his star turn. Here’s how Pixar almost ruins it.

Pixar’s Latest Film, “Lightyear,” Marks the Studio’s First Theatrical Wide Release Since Two years of having feature films used as A loss leader to encourage Disney+ sign ups, It’s the perfect film to bring audiences back to theaters with all the joy and heart (and tear-jerking) from a studio known for making audiences (and now their kids) cry. However, considering the “lighttier” themes of facing your fears and opening your mind to the future, it is ironic that Pixar’s own fear is one of the film’s biggest weakness.

It’s the perfect film to bring audiences back to theaters with all the joy and heart (and tear-jerking) from a studio known for making audiences (and now their kids) cry.

Pixar’s out-of-the-box success in 1995 with its first feature film, “Toy Story,” focused more on telling new stories, more than by refusing to automatically follow up with a sequel. had become remarkable. it was not until A deal with Disney in 1997 That “Toy Story 2” (Basically Means It) a live-to-video project) was forced into theatrical release. It stood as the studio’s only sequel for a full decade; Meanwhile, Pixar put out hit after hit with (mostly) the originals, from “Finding Nemo” to “Up.” Then, 2010’s “Toy Story 3” gave the studio’s flagship franchise an end-of-sense ending—that is, to “Toy Story 4” (ironically, Pixar’s last major release was unaffected by the pandemic shutdown), a gamble that fortunately Paid For fans. (Pixar made a few other sequels during that time, but they were few and far between.)

From that perspective, “Lightyear” might sound similar to “Rocky V,” yet another entry in a franchise that has long outlived its reception. By rights, “Lightyear” should be the first “Toy Story” spinoff to be completely unnecessary. The premise is so closely tied to the original film that the film literally has to use explainer cards to ensure that the audience is not confused. The main premise is derived from “Toy Story” star Andy’s original toys, many of which are merchants from various fictional entertainment franchises. “Lightyear” is the movie from which the Buzz Lightyear toy was made. It is the feature film equivalent of Pixar that “produces episodes of”.Woody’s Roundupfor Disney+.

But the truth is, “Lightyear” has no need for these ridiculous Byzantine connections to the long-running, already finished franchise. It stands on its own as a complete story, with plenty of heart, laughs, and a nice third-act twist that feels both earned and satisfying.

The film opens with Buzz Lightyear (voiced by Chris Evans) investigating a new planet that looks like it would support life, but far more so than he or his companion, Hawthorne (Uzo Aduba). becomes hostile. Arrogant and overconfident, Lightyear turns down offers of help, insisting that he alone can save the ship. And he fails. Buzz then becomes obsessed with “finding the mission,” aka, landing off the planet and returning a crew of 1,200 to Earth. He risks his life by flying daily tests to attempt to jump into hyperspace. But each day of trials is equivalent to four years of life on the planet, until one day he comes back and finds that the one he loved is gone, while he was concentrating on the past, was living a prosperous existence.

Disney and Pixar’s “Lightyear.”Disney Pixaro

Not in step with the new administration’s plans to permanently colonize the planet, Buzz steals a ship to continue testing, aided by his only friend: a robot cat named Sox (played by Peter Sohn, Which steals every scene). This time, he returns to explore the planet under attack from the mysterious Emperor Zerg (Josh Brolin). Only the three crooks and IVAN, the autopilot robot can help him.

There are plenty of references here that die-hard fans of the “Toy Story” movies will recognize, from Buzz’s costume details to the Zerg character who was part of “Toy Story 2.” It’s also an opportunity for Pixar to weed out the simplified antagonist from its initial release. But the real delight comes from all the new additions. Keke Palmer, as rookie Izzy Hawthorne (granddaughter of Buzz’s original partner), was never the heroine of the “Toy Story” series. In “Orange Is the New Blacks” Dale Soules has a field day as ex-convict Darby Steele. And once again, Taika Waititi proves she’s worth every penny Disney is paying her as rookie Moe Morrison, who proves that the pen is really more powerful than the sword—when it matters. .

Comparisons to “Toy Story” don’t do much for the film other than reminding audiences just how far Pixar has come in its nearly 35-year history.

Beyond that, the comparison to “Toy Story” doesn’t do much for the film other than reminding viewers just how far Pixar has come in its nearly 35-year history. (The CGI of the 1990s can’t be compared to some of the impressive visuals from “Lightear.”) But as an actual sci-fi movie, “Lightyear” is missing the tongue-in-cheek humor of “Toy Story” Is. ”, who never forgot that it was about toys. Those original adventures, though grand in miniature, were actually no bigger than a toy box.

And he’s not even bringing in the cool casting change that swaps out the franchise’s original Buzz, Tim Allen. The Less Controversial Chris Evans, One could argue that the rearrangement is partly so “lightyear” can disassociate itself from its original. (The director claims that this is because) It’s “Less Goofy” Than the Buzz “Toy Story” VersionWhich is a stretch.) But then why tie up “Toy Story” in the first place?

Most of Hollywood is convinced that if a project isn’t focused on a franchise that audiences already know, they won’t pay attention to it. But over the decades, Pixar has proven time and again that this just isn’t true. The studio told new stories and (mostly) refused to succumb to sequel-itis. “Lightyear” deserves to be seen as more than yet another “Toy Story” entry. And Pixar must take its own advice to stop living in the past.