Michael Thomas’s review published on Letterboxd:
Captain’s log, stardate 100056.22.
In 1995, Andy got a toy from his favorite movie. I feel like Andy, and I watched two completely different films. 'Lightyear' takes us to infinity and beyond with the legend, Buzz Lightyear of Star Command (Chris Evans). This film tells the story of Buzz and his first battle with his greatest foe, Zurg. Lightyear is a bizarre concept; this film is canonically in the 'Toy Story' universe and serves as the backdrop for a character we’ve known for nearly two decades. With that said, the film struggles with what it wants to be.
Pixar is phenomenal, and 'Lightyear' might be their best film on a technical level. It’s visually stunning, features a terrific voice cast, and Michael Giacchino’s score is fantastic. Unfortunately, the film is stopped dead in its tracks because of its poor script. 'Lightyear' isn’t just an intergalactic story but also a time-traveling adventure. That means the linchpin of this story is Buzz and only Buzz since he’s the one constant throughout the narrative.
Buzz Lightyear is a character void of personality. He’s a hero who wants to fight tooth and nail to complete his mission. We’ve seen this stoic hero before, and Chris Evans made a career out of this type of role. The difference between a character like Buzz and Captain America is that 'Lightyear' does not attempt to show who Buzz is as a person. There’s a twist during this film that makes you reevaluate Buzz as a character, and it just doesn’t land. Not because it's a lousy story beat, but rather an underdeveloped idea for an underdeveloped character. Buzz is serviceable; it wouldn’t be a big deal if the film were a fun space adventure. Instead, it aims to be a more personal story but fails to give Buzz [and in turn, Evans] anything to work with, making for a boring time.
'Lightyear' doesn’t quite stick the landing, but there’s still a fun time to be had. Outside of my issues with Buzz and how the film’s plot plays out, it’s an okay movie. Again, we have some fun characters and what they do with Zurg is an inspired choice. The film just never comes together in any meaningful way. It’s a story that leaves me questioning why it needed to be made at all.