Disney/Pixar’s Lightyear had lots of potential, but its generic story is a disappointing surprise for a Pixar film.
The Production: 3.5/5
Answering a distress call from an uncharted planet, Buzz Lightyear (Chris Evans) and his crew divert course to investigate. After being attacked by indigenous lifeforms, Buzz, his co-pilot Alisha Hawthorne (Uzo Aduba), and the rest of the crew find themselves stranded. Buzz feels guilty about stranding the crew and decides to try and pilot a shuttle, achieve lightspeed, and rescue the crew. The only problem is that with every attempt, while Buzz only ages minutes, the crew on the planet age four years or more. Buzz flies enough missions for nearly two generations of crew members to pass. When he does eventually achieve lightspeed, a large ship has begun orbiting the planet led by Zurg (James Brolin) that has released a robot army on the surface. Buzz soon finds himself leading a ragtag team of rookies that includes Alisha’s granddaughter Izzy (Keke Palmer), Mo Morrison (Taika Waititi), and paroled convict Darby Steele (Dale Soules) to infiltrate the robot ship and save the crew.
According to the opening credits of Lightyear, this is the movie that young boy Andy saw in 1995 of which his Buzz Lightyear action figure came from. That is an interesting premise, but one that this 2022 movie doesn’t quite payoff, as its sensibilities and themes are more modern than mid-1990s retro. The real problem with Lightyear is that we’ve seen most of this before in various other science fiction space operas, such as Star Wars, Lost in Space, Star Trek, Aliens, even Interstellar. The characters are fairly run of the mill for your typical space opera, with minimal development. The main exception is Buzz’s robot cat sidekick Sox (Peter Sohn), who steals the show. While the animation is up to usual Pixar standards, the story and character development is not.
3D Rating: NA
Lightyear was rendered in 2K, then upscaled to a 4K digital intermediate with Dolby Vision HDR with an aspect ratio of 2.39:1 for its premium theatrical engagements (for its IM AX release, some sequences were completed in the 1.90:1 aspect ratio. For this UHD disc release, Disney’s 2160p HEVC-encoded transfer retains the 2.39:1 aspect ratio throughout and uses HDR10 high dynamic range. This is a beautiful transfer, with bold and vivid colors throughout, deep blacks with strong shadow detail, and a terrific sense of depth, particularly in the wider shots.
As usual, Disney has provided a rather ho-hum Dolby Atmos track for this home release. It’s not horrible by any means, but lacks the punch one expects from a film of this kind. Adjusting the volume up several notches does help, providing a mostly immersive experience with space ships flying overhead and other effects moving seamlessly around your environment. LFE is almost adequate, providing some low-end to the sonic booms and explosions, but not quite enough to really overwhelm you. Dialogue is clear and understandable.
Special Features: 3/5
There are no special features on the UHD disc, but the special features can be found on the included single Blu-ray disc. This may be the first Pixar release that ditches the second disc of extras.
Audio Commentary: Director Angus MacLane is joined by Director of Photography Jeremy Lasky and Writer Jason Headley who discuss various aspects of making the movie.
Building the World of “Lightyear” (1080p; 14:29): A look at the design and inspirations of the film.
The Zap Patrol (1080p; 9:08): A look at the supporting cast.
Toyetic (1080p; 10:00): Using toys as visual concepts for the film.
Deleted Scenes (1080p; 26:49): Director Angus MacLane introduces six scenes cut during production of the film.
Digital Copy: An insert contains a code to redeem a digital copy in UHD on Movies Anywhere.
Lightyear is an entertaining but rather forgettable origin story for one of Pixar’s most famous characters. While the animation is up to the studio’s standards, the story, unfortunately, is not.
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