Short of infinity and beyond

Pixar’s latest movie fails to reach expectations


photo courtesy of IMDB

“Lightyear” was hyped up to be something it isn’t.

Jacob Hargens, Staff Reporter

With a legacy of movies from the past 27 years, Pixar started their 3D animation with “Toy Story” in 1995. The main character, Woody, gets jealous when Andy gets a new toy, a Buzz Lightyear toy. Buzz is a space ranger who travels the galaxy on missions for Star Command.

After getting a sequel in 1999, a third movie in 2010, many shorts throughout the 2010s, and finally a fourth movie in 2019, “Toy Story” is arguably Pixar’s biggest franchise. So it comes as no surprise that Pixar wanted to make an origin story on one of their most popular characters, which was released in June of 2022.

(Spoilers ahead)

At the beginning of the movie, it reveals that Andy from “Toy Story” wanted to get a Buzz Lightyear toy from this movie, which I thought was a nice callback. Buzz Lightyear (Chris Evans), Commander Alishia Hawthorne (Uzo Aduba), and the rookie Featheringhamstan (Bill Hader) head to a mysterious planet as a detour to their original mission.

Lightyear is not one for bringing the rookie with and has to explain to him the rules. While that’s happening, Featheringhamstan gets taken by mysterious aliens and Lightyear is able to save him while narrowly escaping the planet, before crashing. Buzz wants to retire but Alishia is able to convince him not to and Buzz works on his next mission.

Buzz’s mission is to reach a planet through hyper-speed with only one try to see if they can find a new planet to inhabit. He fails and has to return to his home planet. Thankfully, he narrowly is able to make it back after purposely blowing up his engine. I was shocked to see this but after it happened, it kind of blew my mind. 

When Buzz returns, he finds out he’s been gone for four years because hyper-speed sends people through time. Hawthorne and their helpful robot I.V.A.N. (Mary Mc-Donald-Lewis) explains what happened to Buzz.

As a gift for returning, Alisha gives Buzz a companion robot, named Sox (Peter Sohn), whom Buzz does not like at first. Buzz then repeatedly tries reaching hyper-speed, meaning that everyone around him keeps aging, while Buzz doesn’t. Eventually, Alisha passes away from Buzz trying so many times to go into hyper-speed, the movie showed Alisha and others aging, hinting at their deaths.

A new commander, Burnside (Isiah Whitlock, Jr.) tells Buzz that they are now abandoning this hyper-speed mission and will try to make do on the planet they live on. Some workers from Star Command wanted to take away Sox from Buzz but he escapes and steals a ship in the process, which easily brings them into hyper-speed. I was shocked to see Buzz go into hyper-speed so easily after stealing a ship, but it helps move the plot along.

After Buzz lands, some unknown robots take Buzz’s ship away to a giant ship in the sky, an explorer finds Buzz and tells him not to go for his ship. The explorer turns out to be Izzy Hawthorne (Keke Palmer), the granddaughter of Alishia Hawthorne. The Junior Patrol member explains to Buzz that the people who took his ship away worked for someone named Zurg (James Brolin).

Eventually, Buzz and the Junior Patrol fly into space while Buzz learns about Izzy’s fear of space and they get attacked by an enemy ship while crash landing onto another planet. Then, Zurg finds Buzz which makes him confused as to how Zurg knows his name. After crashing once again, Zurg is able to get Buzz and take him to his lair.

Zurg is revealed to be Buzz but 50 years into the future. I’m not a fan of this, in “Toy Story 2,” Zurg is revealed to be Buzz’s dad, retconning that plotline. Zurg found a crystal from going hyper-speed to go back in time, breaking it in the process. Future Buzz wants to work together to go back to the past to prevent Star Command from finding them, as they don’t want that to happen. Present Buzz declines but is taken away by a couple Zyclops’ (Angus MacLane), Zurg’s robot army.

Buzz from the future has his own Sox, but he knocks Zurg out, giving Buzz some time to escape. Izzy knows Buzz needs help, so she overcomes her fear of space and flies out onto Zurg’s ship. She’s able to help Buzz and try to escape but he isn’t able to make it onto the ship before Zurg’s ship blows up, throwing Buzz into space in the process. Luckily, Buzz flies into his own ship but Zurg is right behind him. The Junior Patrol is able to help though. They knock Zurg off the ship, leaving him to float endlessly in space.

Unfortunately, Commander Burnside finds the Junior Patrol and Buzz and wants to punish them for going against many laws but instead wants to start a new Space Range Corp. Buzz says he wants the crew from the Junior Patrol to be on the team, which is approved by Burnside. The movie’s post-credits scene has Zurg floating in space when the lights on his suit turn back on, teasing his return.

Overall, “Lightyear” felt unnecessary. To me, it seemed like Pixar just needed an excuse to make another movie in the “Toy Story” franchise, but didn’t want to make a Toy Story 5. I’m a fan of all the new characters as well as the voices Pixar brought on with them, but it really felt like just a cash-grab.

I like the callbacks to “Toy Story” but in the end, this movie didn’t need to be made at all. I feel like it could have been better if it was made into a short series on Disney+ so the story could be fleshed out more.