Disney/Pixar's 'Lightyear' completes its mission as stellar adventure

2022-06-19 00:36:46 By : Mr. ZHENGXUE FU

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Rated PG. At AMC Boston Common, Regal Fenway, AMC South Bay and suburban theaters.

Who would have guessed that Buzz Lightyear, the “to infinity and beyond” Space Ranger toy in the “Toy Story” line-up, would have an origin story so fraught with existential angst? This new Disney/Pixar offering “Lightyear,” featuring Sudbury’s Chris Evans, taking over voicing chores from Tim Allen, begins 4.2 million miles from Earth when young, real-life Buzz crashes the giant turnip-shaped spacecraft he’s piloting, stranding dozens of hyper-sleeping passengers on an alien world.

That forest-covered world is full of big, dangerous bugs and an unseen, underground creature with grabby, green tentacles everywhere. Is this any way to “complete the mission,” which is Buzz’s other catchphrase? Buzz’s chief cohort on this brave new world is best friend and fellow Space Ranger Alisha Hawthorne (Boston-born Uzo Aduba). Working as a test pilot, Buzz uses a chemical compound sourced on the new world to see if it will power his space jet to “hyper-speed” and get “the Turnip” flying again. The problem is that every time Buzz takes a test flight in space, he moves ahead in time and everyone on the world grows older by several years, while he stays young.

Holy Dorian Gray, where did the savants at Pixar (the film was written by Jason Headley of “Onward” and Angus MacLane of “The Incredibles,” who also directed) get this plot line? At one point, Buzz returns from a test flight to find the large, guarded living compound created by the colonists under siege by evil robots from a giant spacecraft hovering in the sky. At this point, Buzz’s most steadfast companion is a mischievous, robotic cat named Sox (Peter Sohn). But he also meets new friends Izzy Hawthorne (Keke Palmer), Alisha’s granddaughter, and her fellow Space Ranger wannabes Darby Steel (Dale Soules), an elderly ex-con, and slacker Mo Morrison (Taika Waititi). Together, they will tackle a powerful enemy named Emperor Zurg (James Brolin) and one they must defeat to “complete the mission.” Izzy must overcome a deep fear of space — “astrophobia” — to help Buzz in his quest.

“Lightyear” shares a lot of the science-fiction details with “Star Trek” and some of its humor with the “Guardians of the Galaxy” films. Even the score by the omnipresent Michael Giacchino sounds “Star Trek”-ish. Yes, there will be merchandise, lots.

The “Toy Story” series began in 1995. There are now four films, the most recent released in 2019. “Lightyear” is preceded by “Buzz Lightyear of Star Command: The Adventure Begins,” a conventionally animated, direct-to-video 2000 film featuring Tim Allen. The robo-cat Sox steals the new film and comes across as a talking R2-D2 with fur and claws. If you wonder how Pixar had the foresight to put the letter Z on the chests of the evil robots, you are not alone.

Buzz remains the eternal optimist. But he is less full of himself than in the “Toy Story” films. Among the comic elements, the Keaton-esque “capture cone” bit is funny; the sandwich of the future routine, disgusting. Robot humor is certain to be the subject of the doctoral thesis of some enterprising graduate student (no need to thank me). To the Comedy Store and beyond …

(“Lightyear” contains possibly frightening action and characters in peril.)

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