Lightyear (2022)… spoilers

A green thought bubble

I just saw Lightyear for the second time this week. It was better the second time.

The framework of Lightyear is that it is the movie that Andy from Toy Story watched which led him to fall in love with his Buzz Lightyear toy. In this film, Buzz Lightyear (voiced by Chris Evans) is a Space Ranger devoted to “completing the mission.” His intense focus on that principle costs him a lot. He doesn’t seem have the insight to see that life can have more purpose than just fulfilling a singular goal.

One of the transformations Buzz undergoes is that he comes to a realization that his friends had worthwhile lives without escaping the strange planet that they landed on. He had been convinced that he was a failure when he couldn’t rescue them. Several of the characters make mistakes that seems to be impossible to correct. Their level of distress is managed because a humorous solution exists to solve the problem. However, Buzz revealed that his career started with failures and the confidence of a mentor helped him succeed.

For some, the fact that a woman falls in love with another woman is too much to accept. Their disapproval seems to be reflexive. Diversity in the film is more deeply rooted than the superficial reading of a half-second kiss between two women as a horrific affront. When Alicia Hawthorne (voiced by Uzo Aduba) tells Buzz of her engagement, Buzz asks what “her” name is, indicating that he knew she was attracted to a woman. The final energy crystal had a rainbow of colors, a nod to the rainbow LGBTQ flag.

The story can be choppy with abrupt transitions. It was almost as if they had too much story to stuff into the allotted time so that scenes need to move quickly from one to the next. For example, their visit to a mine seems like an arbitrary plot device. Although the film foreshadows that particular event, other unexpected situations are science fiction cliches. The robotic cat SOX, (voiced by Peter Sohn) is a good comedian. The ludicrous bee-boop bee-boop when the cat is scanning can be silly, but the cat’s running commentary is also light-hearted. The cat also has some surprises built in.

There was a running gag about life on the planet being dangerous or even hostile. Buzz’s initial reaction is to report that the planet is uninhabitable but they stay. Perhaps this initial reaction was part of Buzz’s determination to escape. I couldn’t see the characters expressing many emotions but a crucial turning point, you see a hint of Buzz’s sadness. That tension quickly fades as the adventures restart.

Although the movie wasn’t outstanding, the story was engaging. It was an action science-fiction story and not a psychological commentary. If I wanted the film to make the characters seem more 3 dimensional, I was pretty much dooming myself to be disappointed.

The movie was good enough to see twice and I enjoyed it both times. The first I was able to see it in a local theater before it closed. The last movie I saw before the pandemic began was Onward, another Disney film. Now that both are available on Disney+ and BluRay, I probably won’t be able to see them on the big screen again.

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