Lightyear Footage Reaction: Pixar Evokes Sci-Fi Favorites In A Family Friendly Package [CinemaCon 2022]

CinemaCon is in full swing in Las Vegas, and /Film is there, covering some highly anticipated films. One of those films is "Lightyear," the animated film from Pixar that will show us the origin of another animated character, Buzz Lightyear, the toy Andy got for his birthday in the "Toy Story" films. Yes, this is an animated origin story for an animated toy that is based on an animated person. Whew! The mind boggles.

In the film, Buzz Lightyear (the real one that the toy is based on) has been marooned on a planet for a year with his crew. Now he's doing a test flight to see if everyone can get off the planet (and away from some very aggressive tentacles, apparently) when he runs into a huge and angry robot. With his personal companion robot, a cat named Socks who seems much nicer than the big one, he has to save the universe.

"Lightyear" is directed by Angus MacLane, a 20+ year Pixar veteran who co-directed "Finding Dory" with Andrew Stanton. It's produced by Galyn Susman, with Pete Doctor as executive producer. Chris Evans will voice Buzz Lightyear. The cast also includes Pat Fraley, Patrick Warburton, Javier Fernandez-Peña, Mike MacRae, and Corey Burton.

To infinity ... and beyond!

While even the most ardent "Toy Story" fans haven't been entirely sure what to expect from "Lightyear," the footage reactions out of CinemaCon definitely line up with what we previously reported on the new animated film just last week. According to /Film's Ben Pearson, the main takeaway from the whopping 30 minutes of footage screened ahead of the movie's release in a few months centers on the classic pulp, action-adventure vibe of the overarching plot and the fact that, for better or worse, fans can expect a surprising amount of "Toy Story" references sprinkled throughout the story. The cartoonish and somewhat "off" animation for the humans featured in the movie may fall right into the uncanny valley for some viewers, but otherwise, the incredible amount of detail poured into the otherworldly locations, space-set sequences, and various dangers our main characters encounter will undoubtedly provoke feelings of awe at what the Pixar team has managed to accomplish.

As for the nitty-gritty details of the footage, we follow Buzz and Izzy Hawthorne on a mission to the surface of an uncharted planet. When they come under sudden attack, Buzz sets off amid a huge action sequence to save the life of a rookie cadet who accompanied the pair. It certainly sounds as if the stubborn Buzz that we came to know and love throughout the "Toy Story" movies has been preserved here, as the astronaut action hero insists on overriding his ship's autopilot because he prefers to do things himself. This arrogance, of course, comes back to bite him during their attempted escape when a too-close encounter with a mountain in the way causes their ship to crash and the entire team to be marooned on the surface.

In a surprising development that evokes far more adult movies like "Interstellar" or "The Martian," they end up spending years attempting to return home. Buzz in particular tries (and repeatedly fails) to overcome his own shortcomings in order to enact test flights to once again regain hyperspace capabilities, repeating the process countless times as a classic Pixar montage sequence kicks in to document the arduous and, because of that sweet time-dilation effect, decades-long task. It seems clear that the main focus of "Lightyear" involves evoking classic sci-fi movies of years past — "Apollo 13," "2001," and who knows how many others — and distill those classics into something a little more tangible for kids to enjoy. The studio's usual brand of humor through fun supporting characters and sidekicks, like the robotic cat Sox, also remains intact, and it sure seems as if we've got another Pixar hit on our hands.

Here is the official synopsis for "Lightyear:"

The sci-fi action-adventure presents the definitive origin story of Buzz Lightyear—the hero who inspired the toy—introducing the legendary Space Ranger who would win generations of fans.

"Lightyear" will hit theaters on June 17, 2022.