Joel Hilke’s review published on Letterboxd:
Most of this Toy Story spinoff feels like a generic space adventure that someone, early on in development, glued a Toy Story connection onto in order to get folks to rush out to the the theater. In other words, no Toy Story, no buckazoids. And they were probably right.
Lightyear is allegedly the real story of Buzz Lightyear from which the toy that ended up in Andy's room was based. In this story, Buzz is a space ranger helping a colony ship find a new home. When an accident occurs, the ship is marooned and Buzz has to get them off-world and back on their journey.
My main issue with this movie is, "so what?" OK... so this is allegedly the "real" Buzz Lightyear... and? I guess there's a physical similarity and a tiny bit of Toy Buzz's cockiness, but the character is otherwise different enough - and generic enough - to be anyone else. Other than the space suit, the flick has no real ties either referentially, symbolically, or thematically, to the Toy Story universe. It also hardly feels like this epic space adventure that an Andy would fall in love with and get the toys for.
Mainly because a lot of this space adventure just feels generic and not very exciting. The second act really kind of plods along and tosses in a whole log of mid-tier jokes about Buzz's team of misfits. It frankly really started to drag and when the movie should be (pardon me) buzzing with energy, it really just goes through the motions.
In other words, faced with Lightyear and any given Star Wars film, Andy's room is full of Luke Skywalker and Han Solo toys.
Now the opening act is actually kind of fun and has some cool sci-fi concepts around time dilation. The end also picks up steam and is kind of fun. There are moments of sci-fi pulp fun but the whole movie should have had that gee-whiz sense of adventure.
It's not the worst film Pixar ever made... but the movie had to remind me this was a Pixar pic. It doesn't really feel like one... it kind of feels like a knock-off. But here we are... first Pixar movie to open up in theaters in awhile and it's this and not, say, Turning Red or even Luca.
And the kids running up and down the aisles, asking their parents if they could leave (seriously overheard that), and being taken out to the bathroom for twenty minutes doesn't encourage me to think this'll be a big hit among the target demo.
For me... I wanted fewer Bucks and more Buck Rogers, to misquote an earlier film. Something that didn't feel like a Toy Story cash grab and something that really instilled the fun spectacle that inspired the Toy Story character.