Lightyear (film)

Source: Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

Lightyear
Buzz Lightyear in the space ranger suit sees the outer space on the right.
Theatrical release poster
Directed byAngus MacLane
Screenplay by
  • Jason Headley
  • Angus MacLane
Story by
  • Angus MacLane
  • Matthew Aldrich
  • Jason Headley
Produced byGalyn Susman
Starring
Cinematography
  • Jeremy Lasky (camera)
  • Ian Megibben (lighting)
Edited byAnthony J. Greenberg
Music byMichael Giacchino
Production
companies
Distributed byWalt Disney Studios
Motion Pictures
Release dates
  • June 8, 2022 (2022-06-08) (El Capitan Theatre)
  • June 17, 2022 (2022-06-17) (United States)
Running time
105 minutes
CountryUnited States
LanguageEnglish
Budget$200 million[1]
Box office$156 million[2][3]

Lightyear is a 2022 American computer-animated science fiction action-adventure film produced by Pixar Animation Studios and distributed by Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures. The film is a spin-off of the Toy Story film series, serving as an origin story for the character Buzz Lightyear. It was co-written and directed by Angus MacLane and produced by Galyn Susman, and stars Chris Evans as the voice of the titular character, with Keke Palmer, Peter Sohn, Taika Waititi, Dale Soules, James Brolin, Uzo Aduba, Mary McDonald-Lewis, and Isiah Whitlock Jr. in supporting roles.

Lightyear tells the story of young astronaut Buzz Lightyear, who, after being marooned on a hostile planet with his commander and crew, tries to find a way back home while confronting a threat in the form of Zurg. Initially, the source material for Buzz Lightyear was introduced in the direct-to-video film Buzz Lightyear of Star Command: The Adventure Begins (2000), which was the pilot to a spin-off television series, Buzz Lightyear of Star Command (2000–2001). After finishing work on Finding Dory (2016), MacLane, a science fiction fan, pitched the idea of making a film about Buzz Lightyear at Pixar. To evoke the science fiction films he grew up watching, the animators wanted to give the film a "cinematic" and "chunky" look. Michael Giacchino composed the film's score.

Lightyear premiered at the El Capitan Theatre in Los Angeles on June 8, 2022, and was theatrically released in the United States on June 17 in RealD 3D, 4DX, Dolby Cinema, and IMAX formats. It became the first Pixar film to be released in theaters worldwide since Onward in March 2020, and the first filmed in IMAX. The film is projected to be Pixar's third box-office bomb, having grossed $156 million worldwide against a $200 million production budget (as of June 29, 2022),[4][5] and received generally mixed reviews. Critics praised the film's animation, voice acting, score, and entertainment value, although the screenplay drew criticism.

Plot

Buzz Lightyear, a space ranger in Star Command, and his commanding officer and best friend, Alisha Hawthorne, explore the habitable planet, T'Kani Prime, with their new recruit, Featheringhamstan. They are forced to retreat to their exploration vessel after discovering that the planet hosts hostile lifeforms. Buzz damages the vessel during the retreat, forcing the crew to evacuate in order to conduct repairs and continue their journey. One year later, the crew have constructed a nascent colony along with the necessary infrastructure to conduct repairs. Buzz volunteers to test hyperspace fuel, a key component of the repairs. However, after a four-minute test, he finds that four years have passed on T'Kani Prime, due to the effects of time dilation from having traveled at relativistic speeds. Buzz is introduced to Sox, a robotic feline, and continues testing the hyperspace fuel. With every test, four more years pass on T'Kani Prime, until eventually over 62 years have passed. During this time, the colony develops; Alisha raises a son with her wife Kiko, subsequently dying of old age; and Sox improves the fuel's composition, allowing it to obtain faster-than-light speeds.

Against the orders of his new commanding officer, Commander Burnside, Buzz uses this new fuel composition for a successful hyperspace test. Upon landing, Buzz discovers 22 years have passed, during which T'Kani Prime has been invaded by Zyclops robots led by the mysterious Zurg. Buzz meets up with members of the colony’s defense forces, including Izzy Hawthorne, Alisha’s now-adult granddaughter; Mo Morrison, a fresh, naïve recruit; and Darby Steel, an elderly paroled convict. While initially reluctant to work with them, Buzz eventually warms to them. Together, they plan to attack Zurg’s ship and destroy the invading force.

Following an encounter, Zurg abducts Buzz, bringing him aboard his ship where he reveals that he is an older Buzz from an alternate timeline in which he escaped from Burnside’s forces after the successful hyperspace test. Aided by the effects of time dilation, he traveled to the far future, encountering a technologically advanced and abandoned vessel. He assumed Zurg's identity by wearing his signature mecha suit, and traveled to the now-present to obtain more hyperspace fuel from Buzz in order to travel further back in time and prevent the exploration vessel from landing on T'Kani Prime in the first place. However, Buzz refuses due to the implications of the possible temporal paradox that would result from such actions, which would wipe out the current timeline and everyone from it. Meanwhile, Izzy, Mo, Darby, and Sox board Zurg’s ship to assist Buzz. After a chaotic assault on the ship, Buzz and his comrades-in-arms destroy the ship and escape.

However, Zurg, having survived his ship's destruction, arrives and attacks Buzz, grabbing the hyperspace fuel. As Zurg prepares to destroy him, Buzz shoots the fuel, causing it to explode and incapacitate Zurg. With the fuel gone, Buzz wishes to stay on T'Kani Prime. Upon landing, Burnside arrests Buzz, but relents, allowing Buzz to revive the Space Ranger Corps. Buzz selects Izzy, Mo, Darby, and Sox to form the core of this organization, much to Burnside's surprise. Buzz and his team are then sent off to a new adventure in parts unknown. In a post-credits scene, Zurg is revealed to have survived the explosion.[6]

Voice cast

  • Chris Evans as Buzz Lightyear, a young test pilot and Space Ranger.[7]
  • Keke Palmer as Izzy Hawthorne, Alisha's granddaughter, whom Buzz meets.[8]
    • Keira Hairston as a young version of Izzy.[9]
  • Peter Sohn as Sox, a robotic cat that is Buzz's companion.[8]
    • Sohn also voices an older, worn-out version of Sox used by Zurg.
  • Taika Waititi as Mo Morrison, a fresh, naïve recruit in the colonial defense forces[8]
  • Dale Soules as Darby Steel, an elderly paroled convict who has been conscripted into the colonial defense forces.[8]
  • James Brolin as Buzz Lightyear / Emperor Zurg, the commander of the invading robotic army, later revealed to be an elderly, yet warped, nihilistic version of Buzz from an alternate timeline.[8]
  • Uzo Aduba as Alisha Hawthorne, Buzz's best friend and commanding officer, who is one of Izzy's grandmothers.[8]
  • Mary McDonald-Lewis as I.V.A.N., a voice-activated virtual assistant.[8]
  • Isiah Whitlock Jr. as Commander Burnside, the officer who succeeds Alisha Hawthorne.[8]
  • Angus MacLane as ERIC, DERIC, and the Zyborgs
  • Bill Hader as Featheringhamstan, a new recruit partnered with Buzz and Alisha
  • Efren Ramirez as Airman Diaz, an acquaintance of Buzz.[8]

Additionally, Tim Peake appears in an uncredited cameo as a worker at the mission control center.[10]

Production

Development

Director Angus MacLane

Development on Lightyear started after finishing work on Finding Dory (2016). After co-directing Dory with Andrew Stanton, Angus MacLane was allowed to pitch the idea of making a Buzz Lightyear film, having always wondered what movie Andy Davis saw in the original Toy Story (1995) to get interested in a Buzz Lightyear action figure. MacLane, also a science fiction fan, had felt attracted to the character of Buzz since he started working at Pixar, feeling that the film's story was very "personal" for him, whose favorite movie since childhood had been Star Wars (1977).[11][12] An aspect present in the Toy Story films that Lightyear explores is Buzz's disagreement over the nature of reality, which, coupled with his heroic ideals, made an amalgam of sci-fi clichés that MacLane intended to make more than just a punchline.[11][13]

In February 2019, Tim Allen, who voiced Buzz in the films, expressed interest in doing another film as he "did not see any reason why they would not do it",[14] while in that May, on The Ellen DeGeneres Show, Tom Hanks, who voiced Sheriff Woody, said that Toy Story 4 (2019) would be the final installment in the franchise,[15] but producer Mark Nielsen disclosed a possibility of a fifth film, as Pixar was not ruling out that possibility.[16] In December 2020 at a Disney Investor Day meeting, Lightyear was announced as a spin-off film depicting the in-universe origin of the human Buzz Lightyear character, with Chris Evans providing the character's voice.[7]

When asked about the relationship between Lightyear and Buzz Lightyear of Star Command, a Toy Story spin-off series that also serves as an in-universe production starring the Buzz character, MacLane, who directed the CG opening sequence for Star Command,[17] said that he did not have it in mind while working on the film, but always pictured the series being developed in-universe after a trilogy of Lightyear films.[18][12] He later explained that Lightyear serves as a "live-action" film within the Toy Story universe, whereas Star Command serves as a hand-drawn animated series based on the film, from which the toy versions of Buzz and Zurg derive.[19][20]

Casting

Chris Evans was announced as the voice of the human Buzz Lightyear along with the project's announcement in December 2020.[7] Evans was the first and only choice MacLane had for Buzz.[21] He visited Pixar's offices one day and they pitched him the project during a visit. Evans accepted the offer immediately, given his love for animation.[11] Evans credited the original voice actor for Buzz Lightyear, Tim Allen, as his guideline and also wanted to "create his own understanding of the character, and try to make some fresh tracks in the snow while paying homage to his work in the film".[22] He eventually felt comfortable with his own interpretation and had to lower his voice for the role.[22] The director of the film, MacLane, defended the recasting:

Tim's version of Buzz [Lightyear] is a little goofier and is a little dumber, and so he is the comic relief. In this film, Buzz is the action hero. He’s serious and ambitious and funny, but not in a goofy way that would undercut the drama [...] Chris Evans has the gravitas and that movie-star quality that our character needed to separate him and the movie from Tim’s version of the toy in Toy Story.

— Angus Maclane, in an interview to Vanity Fair[22]

Producer Galyn Susman said that the creative team did not discuss bringing back Allen in any capacity for this film because they believed that his voice would've tied the film too closely to Toy Story when the film aims to be its own stand-alone story while also saying:

Tim really is the embodiment of the toy Buzz, and this isn’t the toy world, so it really doesn’t make sense. There’s not really a role. It would just cause more confusion for audiences instead of helping them understand the movie we’re trying to tell.

— Galyn Susman, in an interview to The Hollywood Reporter[23]

Taika Waititi was reported to have been cast in an undisclosed role in November 2021.[24] Keke Palmer, Dale Soules, Uzo Aduba, James Brolin, Mary McDonald-Lewis, Efren Ramirez and Isiah Whitlock Jr. were reported to have been cast in supporting roles in February 2022, following the release of the official trailer.[25] On May 6, 2022, European Space Agency astronaut Tim Peake was revealed to have a cameo as "Tim from Mission Control".[10] On May 25, it was revealed that Formula One drivers Carlos Sainz Jr. and Charles Leclerc would cameo in the film; both playing the same undisclosed character for the Spanish and Italian dubs of the film, respectively.[26]

Animation

The animators wanted the film to look "cinematic" and "chunky" in order to evoke the feeling of the sci-fi films MacLane grew up with.[21] In order to achieve this, they asked a former Industrial Light & Magic employee to build a spaceship model for them, from which the animators drew inspiration; this technique was inspired by designers for early sci-fi films using models as inspiration for their sets and props.[21] MacLane said the animation took several "visual lessons" from early sci-fi and space opera films such as those of the Star Wars franchise, though without intentionally imitating such films.[27]

Korean animators Chun Sung-uk and Lee Chae-yeon worked on the animation process in their homes during COVID-19 pandemic, they opined that it is "overwhelming to see the full scale of what computer animation can do on the big screen".[28] The animation team went to NASA to research about spaceships, space suits and overall set pieces as they wanted "everything to look like a live-action film rather than an animation".[28] According to Lee, a 3D animator, who also worked in Toy Story 2 and 3, said "The director wanted to make a film that felt true so he asked for a much more toned-down version of Buzz's personality. Being part of the team required an enormous amount of responsibility, but it was really exciting for me professionally".[28]

"If you’re watching the film in a regular theater, you may not notice. But when you see the film in IMAX, those shots are actually shot “in IMAX,” for lack of a better word [...] all of that stuff started back on WALL-E, and each film has kind of had its own version. Like, how do we want to shoot this film? What’s the aspect ratio? What do we want the feel of it to be from the lens? And it all sounds like kind of small, little things. But they all add up.

Jeremy Lasky, about the shooting of Lightyear in IMAX format.[29]

For the IMAX release, it's the first animated feature film in history to have its aspect ratio opened up from 2.39:1 to 1.43:1 for select sequences of the film.[30] Jane Yen, who served as the film's visual effects supervisor, spoke to /Film stating that the team had developed virtual IMAX cameras to shoot the sequences in 1:43:1 and then would be cropped to standard-definition.[31][32] The team had brought two sets of lenses, two cameras, and a larger sensor equivalent to 65 millimeters, which was earlier initiated by Pixar in WALL-E (2008).[29]

Music

Recurrent Pixar composer Michael Giacchino was announced to compose the score for the film, marking his eighth collaboration with Pixar and the second time he would score an installment to a film franchise from Pixar that is traditionally scored by Randy Newman, after Cars 2.[33] He earlier scored for the Toy Story television specials: Toy Story of Terror! (2013) and Toy Story That Time Forgot (2014), the former was written and directed by Maclane.[33] The score was recorded over 15 days, requiring a 39-member choir and an 89-piece orchestra.[34] A track titled "Mission Perpetual" was released as a single on June 3, 2022.[34] Giacchino said the track was his favorite to work on the film, describing it as a challenge due to the music needing to convey Buzz' frustration, sadness, and determination through the sequence.[34] The soundtrack was released on June 17, 2022, through Walt Disney Records.[34]

Marketing

Following the announcement of the film, a first look was shown at the Disney Investor Day on December 10, 2020.[35][36] The marketing campaign for Lightyear began on October 27, 2021, with the release of a teaser trailer, set to David Bowie's "Starman", that received 8.3 million views in its first 24 hours.[37] Compared to other Pixar films, the teaser's viewership ranks second behind a teaser for Incredibles 2 (114 million).[38][39] It was positively reviewed by commentators, with CNN-based editor Leah Asmelash writing, "the trailer filled many millennials with sentimentality".[40] The first trailer was released online on February 8, 2022,[41][42] and was then aired at Super Bowl LVI on February 13, 2022.[43][44] Comicbook.com's Aaron Perine opined that "the animated movie will be as comedic as expected of these family movies" and further stated "Chris Evans' version of the Space Ranger takes shape as he gets used to some alien surroundings. Also of note would be Lightyear's new companion, a robot cat that will also end up being comedic relief played by Peter Sohn."[41] Aaron Couch of The Hollywood Reporter had stated "The Lightyear trailer reveals that Buzz is sent on a rescue flight after he and a group of people are stranded on a planet. After a year of hard work, they’ve managed to send Buzz off world for help."[45]

On April 27, 2022, the first 30 minutes of the film was premiered at CinemaCon along with the second trailer,[46][47] which released online six days earlier.[48][49] It was positively received by critics, who referred the film as "Pixar's Star Wars" and a "beautifully animated, fun, and emotional journey", and appreciated the cinematic qualities, including animation and visuals.[47][50] Critics further went on to praise, the robotic cat Sox (voiced by Peter Sohn), and called it "the standout performer."[51] CNBC's Sarah Whitten compared Sox, with K-2SO of Rogue One and Baymax from Big Hero 6, attributing the character with a "dry sense of humor and blunt vocal delivery and also an innocence and caring nature".[51] On May 5, 2022, a poster, stills from the film, and a "special look" trailer was released online.[52][53]

Fandango Media's managing editor Erik Davis, and John Rocha, film critic for Outlaw Nation, predicted a demand for Sox toys, even before the film's release.[51] Mattel, which had the master toy license for Toy Story franchise, had announced a new Lightyear toy line consisting of action figures, playsets and vehicles.[54][55] After Sox's character in the film, received praise from insiders, Mattel created "an animatronic interactive version" which costs $80, apart from the plush and action figures. Mattel's executive lead, PJ Lewis had said "We knew he was much more than a sidekick and offered multiple ways to drive product innovation for the ‘Lightyear’ line. Plus, we have a few cat people on the team who were smitten."[51]

Lego has revealed three new sets based on scenes from Lightyear. The three sets were available on April 24, 2022.[56] On May 29, 2022, Ferrari announced that Lightyear would be a sponsor on their cars starting at the 2022 Monaco Grand Prix. In addition, Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz Jr. would also be cast for roles in the film, respectively voicing for the Italian and Spanish versions.[57] American food manufacturing company Lightlife, collaborated with Disney and Pixar for launching several food packages inspired from the film. It also planned for a sweep-stake promotion, which enable customers to win several prizes, including private film screening and Disney merchandises.[58][59] Singapore-based WE Cinemas announced the debut of "Lightyear Premium Pack" with refreshments marketed with stills and images from the film.[60] A half-hour-long documentary featurette entitled Beyond Infinity: Buzz and the Journey to Lightyear was released on the Disney+ streaming service on June 10 in anticipation of the film's release, chronicling the conception and production of Lightyear.[61]

Release

Lightyear had its world premiere at the El Capitan Theatre on June 8, 2022,[62] and was theatrically released in the United States on June 17, 2022,[63][64] by Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures in RealD 3D, 4DX, Dolby Cinema, and IMAX formats.[65][63] It is Pixar's first film since Onward (2020) to receive a theatrical release after Soul (2020), Luca (2021), and Turning Red (2022) were assigned direct-to-streaming releases on Disney+ in response to the closure of cinema theatres due to the COVID-19 pandemic.[66][67] Lightyear also becomes Pixar's first film to be filmed in IMAX formats.[68]

The film was banned in the Arab world (including Bahrain, Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Oman, Palestine, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Syria and the United Arab Emirates) and Malaysia,[69][70][71] due to a scene featuring a same-sex kiss between Uzo Aduba's female character Alisha Hawthorne and her partner.[72] The People's Republic of China also requested that the scene in question be removed.[73][74] Indonesia stated that they did not ban the film, "but suggested the owner of the movie think about their audience in Indonesia where an LGBT kissing scene is still considered sensitive."[71] In Singapore, the scene resulted in the film being allowed only for people above 16 years of age.[75] The scene was initially cut from the film in mid-March 2022, but following Disney CEO Bob Chapek's opposition to Florida's Parental Rights in Education bill and the internal polarizing uproar it caused within Disney, the scene was reinstated.[76][77] Speaking to Variety's Angelique Jackson, Evans had stated about the scene saying: "I’ve been asked the question a few times — it’s nice, and it’s wonderful, it makes me happy. It’s tough to not be a little frustrated that it even has to be a topic of discussion [...] The goal is that we can get to a point where it is the norm, and that this doesn’t have to be some uncharted waters, that eventually this is just the way it is. That representation across the board is how we make films."[78]

Reception

Box office

As of June 27, 2022, Lightyear has grossed $91.9 million in the United States and Canada, and $64.1 million in other territories, for a worldwide total of $156 million.[2][3]

In the United States and Canada, Lightyear was originally projected to gross $70–85 million from 4,255 theaters in its opening weekend, with some estimates reaching as high as $105 million.[1][4][79] However, after making just $20.7 million on its first day (including $5.2 million from Thursday night previews), estimates were lowered to $51–55 million. It went on to debut to $50.6 million, finishing second behind holdover Jurassic World Dominion.[80] Additionally, the film earned $34.6 million from 43 international markets, bringing its worldwide three-day debut to $85.2 million.[81] In its second weekend, Lightyear declined 64.1% to $18.2 million,[82] which is the second worst drop for a Pixar film after Onward (–73%), which opened in the midst of the pandemic.[83]

Both Deadline Hollywood and Variety attributed the underperformance to competition from Jurassic World Dominion and Top Gun: Maverick, though ultimately noted it as a disappointment given the brand strength of both Pixar and the Toy Story franchise.[4][5] Los Angeles Times writer Ryan Faughnder believed that the film was at a disadvantage since as a spin-off film it did not have well known Toy Story characters such as Woody. He also noted that spin-offs tend to not gross as much as the main franchise installments, and compared the film to the spin off films Solo: A Star Wars Story and Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw.[84] Pamela McClintock of The Hollywood Reporter wrote that in addition to competition from Jurassic World Dominion and Top Gun: Maverick, the lackluster opening was attributed to brand confusion in the film's marketing.[85] Martha Ross of The Mercury News also questioned if the response from conservatives on social media over the decision to recast Allen in the part was to blame for the film's underwhelming opening.[86] Other analysts believed that some families might have not shown up to theaters after getting used to watching Pixar films at home due to their three previous films Soul, Luca, and Turning Red being released directly to Disney+ during the pandemic.[5][87]

Critical response

On the review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes, 75% of 272 critics' reviews are positive, with an average rating of 6.7/10. The website's consensus reads, "Lightyear settles for being a rather conventional origin story instead of reaching for the stars, but this gorgeously animated adventure ably accomplishes its mission of straightforward fun."[88] It is the lowest rated film of the Toy Story franchise on Rotten Tomatoes.[4] Metacritic, which uses a weighted average, assigned the film a score of 60 out of 100, based on 57 critics, indicating "mixed or average reviews".[89] Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of "A–" on an A+ to F scale, while PostTrak gave the film an overall positive score of 85% (an average 4 out of 5 stars), with 62% saying they would definitely recommend it.[4]

Peter Bradshaw's four-star review for The Guardian stated "This cracking origin story for Toy Story’s spaceman hero is fun and clever and reminds us why we loved Pixar in the first place."[90] David Rooney of The Hollywood Reporter called it "a funny spinoff with suspense and heart, a captivatingly spirited toon take on splashy live-action retro popcorn entertainment."[91] Emma Stefansky of Thrillist said "There's plenty in Lightyear to enjoy, and it's one of Pixar's better efforts over the last 10 years, but it ultimately feels half-done. It feels like it ought to be the beginning of something, like its narrative is a prologue stretched into a feature awaiting the much more interesting second and third and fifth installments down the road."[92] Valerie Complex of Deadline Hollywood stated "Lightyear does not rely too much on Toy Story lore to build its world, but it would have benefited from showing some connection to that part of the franchise instead of using title cards." She further praised the technical aspects and wrote "The animation is gorgeous and hyper-realistic. The art department put their all into designing this universe and its characters and robotic villains," but criticized the screenplay saying "sometimes the story becomes convoluted and drags on, almost like there was a need to pad the runtime, causing Lightyear to get into even more trouble and creating a never-ending slew of trampling obstacles."[93]

Variety's Owen Gilberman wrote: "Lightyear in its eminently conventional and likable way, is a far less audacious movie than that. For what is surely not the first time, Buzz’s I-can-do-anything myopic bravado has failed [...] part of that may be that in the 'Toy Story' films, he is a toy — that’s part of the joke, one that Buzz is never quite in on. He thinks he’s a real Space Ranger! So when you actually turn Buzz Lightyear into a Space Ranger, you enlarge him and diminish him at the same time."[94] In contrast, BBC's Nicholas Barber wrote "The story is thin, repetitive, and almost entirely dependent on the heroes being clumsy" and gave the film two stars.[95] David Ehrlich of IndieWire wrote "Lightyear remains firmly stuck in the past even as it hurtles toward the future. And while screenwriters Jason Headley and Angus MacLane need that push-pull in order to tell a story about reconciling the lure of nostalgia with the potential for something new, it’s hard for a movie to sell us on living in the moment when every scene feels like it’s settling for less."[96] Kaleem Aftab of Time Out called the film "a franchise low, Pixar's meta 'Toy Story' spin-off gets lost in space."[97] The film has received criticism from some American conservatives, who have argued that the film's scene with a same-sex kiss is inappropriate for children.[98]

See also

References

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