In this Lightyear movie review we first consider the origin story in reverse. 27 years ago in a small New Zealand country town, I took my three-year-old daughter to see Toy Story, the most amazing movie to break the cinematic mould thanks to the arrival of Pixar. With the wonder of computer animation being birthed within the walls of Pixar and with investment from people like Steve Jobs, our trip to the local movie theatre was going to be forever changed.
It’s 2022 and I’m now seeing the movie that one toy, Buzz Lightyear, was based on. In the original Toy Story, Andy’s spaceman, “Buzz”, came from his favourite movie and this is that movie. Tim Allen’s iconic “To Infinity and Beyond” is picked up by the voice of Chris Evans with supporting fun from Taika Waititi and friends. While this decision to bring in ‘Captain America’ as the voice has been controversial, it’s important to realise this movie isn’t the comedy platform we became used to with Mr. Potato Head, Piggy and Rex in each Toy Story tale. This is a cartoon space drama-adventure with a story to tell and a good dose of aliens and robots to tell it.
Technology has moved nearly three decades along and it shows in the amazing graphic design and rendering of both characters, set and even the backgrounds. The space lighting is stunning, deep dark and beautiful. Yes we can stand amazed as Buzz Lightyear’s hair gently wafts in the wind of an alien planet. Sure the detail that is found in the cartoon versions of spaceships with rust showing their age, and the paintwork peeling back to metal just like in real life, its stunning.
But I’m going to give kudos to director, Angus MacLane, in this Lightyear movie review. MacLane has graduated from his time at all levels of the movie making process with titles like Toy Story, Finding Dory and The Incredibles to now direct, write and voice act in this fun holiday film for the whole family. It really doesn’t matter if we’ve graduated from Walt Disney’s black and white Steamboat Willy, through Hannah Barbara’s Coyote and RoadRunner or even what previously amazed us in the 3D toys of the early Toy Story. All the technology falls apart without a story to bring it all together.
Lightyear, is a story worth telling if we’re willing to look in the mirror and see who is looking back. Mistakes are made and never lose sight of the fact that sometimes mistakes are experienced. We become the people who respond or react to our past experience. The older we get those reactions become more set in our pathways and our ability to reset the past is harder to engage. But then an opportunity presents itself and unless we are able to recognise the window, we may miss another cycle, an opening in life where we can reset our world, our path and regain the past.
Children’s movies are an enigma. Created for the very young, but always appealing to the young at heart, we fill theatres with friends, siblings, parents and carers. Keep in mind that while it’s the adults who have the technology, the financing and movie making experience to produce a movie, we need to know our audience if we’re going to make a connection. But when it comes to getting in touch with our imagination, we have to dig deep into ourselves and the past, revisiting our own childhood in order to find that story that will resonate with today’s audience. So when I was watching this feast for the eyes in its amazing levels of rendered animation, I initially thought this is definitely a movie for 10-14 year-olds, who will revel in the cartoon space action. And then I realised I was wrong, so very wrong.
This was a movie for me. Like many “kid’s movies”, Lightyear has a message for the adults. For any kid out there regretting a mistake, scared of ‘space’, or just a little lost, this is such a good reminder that everything is redeemable and we can always, always reset.
To Infinity and Beyond!