Combustible Celluloid
With: Chris Evans, Keke Palmer, Peter Sohn, Taika Waititi, Dale Soules, James Brolin, Uzo Aduba, Mary McDonald-Lewis, Isiah Whitlock Jr., Angus MacLane, Bill Hader, Efren Ramirez, Keira Hairston (voices)
Written by: Jason Headley, based on a story by Angus MacLane, Matthew Aldrich, Jason Headley
Directed by: Angus MacLane
MPAA Rating: PG for action/peril
Running Time: 100
Date: 06/17/2022

Lightyear (2022)

3 1/2 Stars (out of 4)

Ranger Things

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Directed by Angus MacLane in his feature solo debut — he co-directed Finding DoryLightyear may be the most cinematic of the Pixar films. That's not to say that the others are un-cinematic, but Lightyear strives to feel like a live-action movie, while the others are more comfortable in their animated-ness. The widescreen visuals are truly impressive, from a vast, bombed out facility on an abandoned planet to a harrowing spacewalk that, for me, brought back visions of Gravity. It's meant to be the movie that Andy saw that made him want a Buzz Lightyear toy in the first Toy Story (1995), but the comparisons stop there. This is a new Space Ranger, and voiced by Chris Evans in a more human, less goofy way.

It's a potent story, with Buzz accidentally stranding his ship and his crew on a hostile planet. (The suddenness with which killer vines pop out of the ground and grab unsuspecting bystanders offers opportunity for many well-timed jokes.) Attempts to test a new power source send Buzz into light speed for four minutes, which, unfortunately, returns him to the planet four years later. Each test costs another four years, even though Buzz ages only minutes.

When the test finally succeeds, it's decades in the future. He teams with Izzy (voiced by Keke Palmer) — the granddaughter of his best friend Alicia (a Black LGBTQ+ character!) — and her comic sidekicks, Darby Steel (voiced by Dale Soules) and Mo Morrison (voiced by Taika Waititi), to fight an army of giant robots, and, eventually, Zurg. Buzz also has an adorable robot cat called SOX (voiced by Peter Sohn), whose sweet, deadpan line deliveries get some of the film's biggest laughs. (Isiah Whitlock Jr. saying the words "laser shield" is another contender.) Ultimately, it's a lot more fun than it is profound but the joy it evokes is real.

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