The digital magicians at Pixar have returned with an origin story of one of their most famous characters. Lightyear opens with the explanation that Andy from A Toy Story was given a toy based on his favorite movie in 1995 and that this is the movie upon which the toy was based.
With that explanation out of the way, the film centers on a giant ship deep in space that encounters a planet and awakens Space Ranger Buzz Lightyear (voiced by Chris Evans) to investigate. Along with a fellow ranger and a recruit, Buzz scopes out the planet only to discover it is hostile and makes a hasty exit from the planet. Unfortunately, in doing so their ship is damaged and they are left stranded on the planet and forced to establish a colony.
Years later Buzz is about to undergo a test flight based on a new fuel that the colony hopes will replicate their previous source and will allow them to travel at the insane velocities needed to cover millions of light-years.
Things seem to go as planned until a critical failure and Buzz learns that his four-minute flight actually covered several years on the planet. Undaunted Buzz tries again and again and returns to find his friends aging, having children, and passing away with only his robotic cat Sox (Peter Sohn) to keep him connected to his past and assist him.
While this would make for an interesting enough film it is actually just the setup to the larger story, which involves a hostile Robot army and an evil menace named Zurg who threatens Buzz and a hastily assembled team of volunteers who must now save the day.
The film has amazing animation and all the humor and charm that one associates with the best Pixar films and is not above giving the audience an emotional tug here and there along the way. I can remember more than a few Pixar films that caused audiences to tear up.
Since this is the first of the last three Pixar films to make a cinematic release, it would be easy to say that it is a return to form for Disney/Pixar and leave it at that. This would be an understatement. The film mixes humor, action, and interesting characters to form a very enjoyable and engaging adventure. It is one of the most satisfying Pixar films in recent memory, and every bit worthy of their name.
It will be interesting to see what the future holds for this crew, as I would very much like to see Buzz and his crew return for new adventures. Lightyear is a new Pixar classic that the entire family will love.
4.5 stars out of 5