‘Lightyear’ reviews praise a solid-if-unspectacular Pixar movie

Buzz Lightyear
Image via Disney/Pixar

Reviews for Disney Pixar’s latest Toy Story franchise addition Lightyear are here, and they’re not the most enthusiastic.

Lightyear, featuring Chris Evans in place of Tim Allen as the voice for the intergalactic Space Ranger we all know and adore, Buzz Lightyear is a very meta take on the movie that existed within the world of Toy Story that originated the toy Andy owns.

Fans will remember how Andy’s Buzz doesn’t initially believe he is a toy, as he is convinced he is an actual Space Ranger, like the character in the movie he is inspired by. We know, it’s a bit of a headache, but early reactions to the film were relatively promising.

Now, as critics get their exclusive viewings underway, the mood is not exactly reaching the stars. Sitting at an 84% score on Rotten Tomatoes after 76 reviews, the consensus seems to be that Lightyear, although good fun, did not reach its full potential.

Time‘s Stephanie Zackarek calls Lightyear “overcomplicated,” with a “dud” of a protagonist, no matter how much personality Evans attempted to bring. The Telegraph UK‘s review is even harsher, with Robbie Collin describing the Toy Story spin-off as Pixar’s “dullest, dreariest, most spiritually empty [feature] to date.” Mick LaSalle of the San Francisco Chronicle agrees, saying Lightyear is “flaccid, repetitive and emotionally dead.” Yikes.

The criticism isn’t unanimous, however, with most critics being of the opinion that Lightyear is a solid film, just not at the level usually expected of Pixar. Variety‘s Owen Gleiberman calls the movie “eminently conventional and likable,” while the LA Times‘ Justin Chang believes Buzz’s origin story makes for a film of “modest charms and secondhand pleasures, made for less-than-creative reasons.”

The star of the film seems to be Sox, the robot cat. David Fear, for Rolling Stone, calls Sox “the movie’s one-stop saving grace,” while The Hollywood Reporter‘s David Rooney jokes that Lightyear has left him “low-key obsessed with wanting an emotional support cat robot like Sox.”

The beautiful animation, which Charlotte O’Sullivan at the London Evening Standard brands as “delectable”, is also getting some serious praise.

In sum, Brian Truitt, per USA Today, puts it best: “Lightyear is a crowd-pleasing effort that doesn’t shoot for the moon but manages to be a nostalgic blast anyway.”

Joining Evans in the voice cast are Taika Waititi, Keke Palmer, Uzo Aduba and James Brolin, among others. Lightyear marks Angus MacLane’s first solo feature film directing effort. It comes out in theaters worldwide, June 17.