Lightyear follows a realistic Buzz Lightyear before the events of Toy Story where he must save his own life and the lives of others as he struggles with friendship and the value of a team. The film is visually satisfying, however, is lacking in the story department and its uneven delivery. Still, the 1080p HD image looks amazing, but the 7.1 audio mix sounds softer than normal. The bonus features are great. Worth A Look!
Pixar has come a long way since its debut feature film Toy Story all those years ago. Pixar changed the animated game with their unique CGI animation and conjured up a universal love with their characters, particularly with Woody and Buzz Lightyear. A few decades later, Pixar has brought their beloved character Buzz to the big screen yet again with his own film titled Lightyear which tells Buzz's personal story of how he became the hero of the galaxy. As each Pixar movie releases, it's easy to see just how technology has made each new flick more beautiful than the last, and Lightyear is no different as this is the best-looking Pixar film thus far. With some emotional beats and some funny adventures, Lightyear impresses despite its bland story that's been told before.
Usually, Pixar is a good bet at the box office. They often make hundreds of millions of dollars with each release, but with Lightyear, it was a box office failure. There were many reasons for this, including the lack of other favorite Toy Story characters, not having Tim Allen reprise his voice role as the titular character, and even having a dense science-fiction narrative that might not grab the masses. But the end result is something a little different for Pixar, which is commendable even if the film feels surprisingly flat most of the time.
It's quickly mentioned that this film is an actual movie that Andy went to see as a kid in Toy Story that inspired his love for the Buzz Lightyear character, which serves as the main bridge between both films. But it's instantly aware that Lightyear is a very different film than mere plastic toys trying to get back to their human counterpart. Buzz Lightyear (Captain America himself - Chris Evans) is on a Star Trek type of mission to boldly go and discover new planets and systems. Buzz and his partner Alisha Hawthorne (Uzo Aduba from Orange is the New Black) take their spaceship to a new planet to look for signs of life.
Due to a mishap, the entire crew is stranded on the planet where Buzz tries different experiments to get the vessel into light speed in order to get back home. As these attempts fail, that similar formula of relative time from movies like Interstellar where it might seem like four minutes to one person is actually four years to everyone else falls into place. With so much time passing to everyone else but Buzz, evil robots show up including the iconic Zurg as everyone tries to survive and finally get off the planet.
Lightyear's underlying message, which comes full circle with the Toy Story films is that friendship and help from others can help any issue. Nobody is a one-person island and that's the conflict within Buzz who wants to do everything himself with no help. As the film plays on, he slowly has to realize that help from friends is the key to survival. It's just too bad that a certain Beatles or Joe Cocker song wasn't consistently playing subliminally in the background. Those emotional sequences of Buzz having to cross paths with aging amongst his crew and alone seem a little on the nose with its delivery, but it's well intended. The true spotlight is on its visuals here. The foreign planets, space, and action beats are phenomenal.
Chris Evans as Buzz is wonderful and he brings that MCU Captain America confidence and conviction perfectly here. Perhaps the most memorable character is the new robotic cat named Sox who acts as Buzz's therapist and companion throughout the film. In fact, a spinoff film of Sox should be in the cards somewhere, because this little feline was a hit every time it graced the screen. There's a lot of charm here, but with its rote narrative, it can be a forgettable film in the Pixar mythology, even though there are some great things going for it.
Vital Disc Stats: The Blu-ray
Lightyear flies its way to Blu-ray via Disney with a Blu-ray + DVD + Digital Copy package. The discs are housed inside a hard, blue plastic case with a cardboard sleeve. There are inserts for Disney promos and their digital copy. The artwork features the entire animated cast of Lightyear looking out into space.
Lightyear arrives with a glorious 1080p HD image that looks stunning. The color palette has a wide gamut of bright colors that light up the screen. The warmer shades of orange and red look amazing on Sox the cat and in the lighting on the ship and villainous eyes. Computer screens show great blues that mix with the silver greys of the ship. The purple and green colors of the pace suits also look wonderful and bright. With the 4K image and its HDR, the colors are more nuanced in darker sequences and other lighting conditions, but this 1080p HD picture is spectacular as it is.
The black levels are deep and the animated skin tones look natural for Pixar. The detail is vivid and gives way to some excellent textures in faces, hair, and the spacesuits that show all the necessary detail in each character and background. This is the best-looking Pixar film to date and there are no problems with aliasing, banding, or video noise.
This Blu-ray release comes with a DTS-HD MA 7.1 audio mix and not the Dolby Atmos track that is on the 4K version. Sound effects sound great, however, Disney still enjoys having the volume at a lower increment than normal, so adjusting the volume up a bit will bring up that sound to normal standards. Big action effects like explosions, robot movements, and spaceships taking off are a little lackluster and don't encourage that large audio immersion of bass or other elements since the sound is softer. The score always adds to the suspense and adventure of the film and the dialogue is cleanly presented with no problems.
Lightyear looks visually incredible and has some wonderful themes going for it, however, its story and tone keep it from being too memorable and coming across as rote. The 1080p Blu-ray image looks excellent, but the 7.1 audio mix sounds less-than-thrilling. The bonus features are all worth watching. Worth A Look!