Plot: What’s it about?
Who’d have thought that, way back in the mid 90’s, we’d be seeing a new movie made about one of Toy Story’s main characters. Yes, over a quarter of a century after its release, we’re now treated to an “origin” story of Buzz Lightyear. That can be good or bad and as the text on the screen when the movie opens tells us, it’s a bit different than we might expect. I have to admit that this one was a head-scratcher for me. On one hand, I get that Buzz Lightyear is a popular character. But I also get that not all of the credit should go to just that – Tim Allen supplied the voice for Buzz in several films and now, just like that, we’ve got him voiced by Chris Evans. I know there’s a reason, but still…it’s just a bit odd. Providing you can get past that (and I did) and I’d imagine that the core demographic doesn’t really care, this is what we’ve got – new movie that doesn’t rely on Toy Story to tell the tale.
Buzz Lightyear (voiced by Chris Evans) and his crew are marooned on a foreign planet. He vows to colleague Alisha (voiced by Uzo Aduba) that he’ll fix things. However doing that dictates that he must build a power source so that they can get their ship up to a fast speed. He tests this only to come back and find that several years have passed for his crew (this is Einstein’s theory of relativity at work). Buzz keeps at it, but he’s gotten to the point where Alisha has died of old age. He then meets Izzy (voiced by Kiki Palmer), Alisha’s granddaughter. She’s one of three people left on the planet with the others being Mo (voiced by Taika Waititi) and Darby (voiced by Dale Soules). Together with a robotic cat, Sox (voiced by Peter Sohn), Buzz believes that he can undo the situation he’s created. There is a pressing issue of defeating the evil Zurg (voiced by James Brolin).
I do like movies that deal with time travel. And if you need a point of reference, think of this as the segment from Interstellar when they were all down on the planet. If that was intriguing to you then this will be as well. To the filmmaker’s credit, they did manage to take a character we all knew and loved and managed to make him stand on his own. That’s not an easy feat when you’re talking about Buzz Lightyear. The supporting cast is fine as well, but this is essentially all about Buzz. That and Taika Waititi tends to grate on my nerves. I don’t know what it is about that guy, but hey…not that big of a deal, right? Fans of the Toy Story universe should be happy with this and I’m sure this will entertain many a kid as they watch it countless times. Enjoy.
Video: How’s it look?
A new to the format Blu-ray disc will be just about the best picture quality any movie-lover could hope for. And it is. Colors are strikingly bold and very vibrant. One thing that really stuck out was the texture on certain things. While the human faces seem devoid of such texture, there are, of course, exceptions. This kind of detail lends itself to a stellar transfer and I wasn’t let down in the least. Couple that with the it being a Disney title and this 2.39:1 AVC HD transfer is the stuff dreams are made of.
Audio: How’s it sound?
In the “well, that sucks” department we get a nice-sounding DTS HD Master Audio Mix. You have to upgrade to the 4K disc to get the Dolby Atmos mix. Did I say that sucks? Ok, good. As we might imagine, there’s no shortage of “things going on” that’ll keep your speakers churning out the goods from opening credits to end. Dialogue is rich and robust. The score adds to the film as well and we do get the surrounds coming in for some added depth at several instances during the movie. The LFE are very active tool, especially during the final act.
Supplements: What are the extras?
- Featurettes – Three total, showing us how various aspects of the film were created and so forth.
- Building the World of Lightyear – Visits to the Johnson Space Center in Houston and a very familiar cinematic archive gave the filmmakers inspiration as they embarked on the exciting journey of creating Lightyear’s breathtaking production design.
- The Zap Patrol – Meet the actors who gave voice to Izzy, Mo and Darby, the untrained, unprepared rangers who join Buzz on the adventure of a lifetime. While the misfits may not seem ideal for the mission, their unlikely friendship helps see them through challenging times.
- Toyetic – Learn why Lightyear is one of the most “toyetic” films ever. Join director Angus MacLane and others on the meticulous, fun process of creating toy models for spaceships and other production elements that led to the film’s richly textured animation.
- Deleted Scenes – Six in all, complete with an introduction by director Angus MacLane.
- Deleted Scenes Introduction – Director Angus MacLane introduces six scenes that are all drawn, set to music, timed and voiced, but are not included in the final version of this amazing film – which took five and a half years to make!
- The Dump – In one of Lightyear’s original opening scenes, we explore Proxima B, with its carnivorous plants, sulfur pits, weird bugs, hot climate, and lack of coffee! A familiar Space Ranger volunteers to risk all in an effort to return to Earth.
- Polly – Buzz relives childhood memories when he visits an aeronautic museum in which his father is memorialized. There, he finds Polly, his dad’s robot companion bird, who possesses a very revealing recorded message meant for Buzz!
- Meet Izzy – After young Izzy and her family (including her brother Maurice) move in next door to Buzz, the adorable, talkative girl bursts into Buzz’s home, warms up to Sox, and asks Buzz a lot of questions.
- Up in the Lair – After his spacecraft crash-lands and he winds up in the bunker of fledgling Space Rangers, Buzz is introduced to cheesy snacks and a character whose role was cut due to time. He also receives shocking information about his father.
- Tilted Ship – Star Command Space Rangers of the 56th Airborne Alpha Quadrant meet Buzz and the Space Ranger students. Buzz is given a truth serum so he’ll expose whatever he knows about his father’s connection to the aliens who have taken over Proxima B.
- Fathership – Buzz wakes up in what he thinks is his childhood home, where he meets his father, who was a time travel pilot, just as he is. But it turns out he’s on the mothership of the aliens who are destroying Proxima B – and hope to vanquish Buzz as well!
- Audio Commentary – Director Angus MacLane, writer Jason Headley, and director of photography Jeremy Lasky provide insight into the making of this remarkable animated feature while you watch it.
The Bottom Line
I’ve finally come to the conclusion that certain movie universes have been established and when some facets of those universes continue to merit revenue for movie studios – we’ll see more of said universe. Pardon the disjointed sentence. For those that loved Buzz Lightyear from the Toy Story films, this is more of the same. The voice is different (Chris Evans vs. Tim Allen), but if you can get past that, this is pretty entertaining. It’s a shame that we’re cheated out of an Atmos mix, but it’s really not that big of a deal.