Lightyear Early Buzz: Does The Pixar Spin-Off Go To Infinity And Beyond?

Buzz Lightyear has gone head-to-head with a cotton cowboy, escaped imprisonment in a cardboard box, and even survived the horrors of an incinerator but only now, nearly three decades after his first appearance, is he going on his most epic journey yet: into space! There's just one difference — the Buzz we see in Pixar's upcoming "Lightyear" isn't the same action figure who befriended Woody. This "Toy Story" spinoff tackles the origin story of Buzz Lightyear, the beloved Space Ranger superhero who inspired the toy line.

Instead of action figure-sized problems, this Buzz will be dealing with issues of the sci-fi variety: during his first flight test to explore new parts of the universe, Buzz ends up marooned on a hostile planet millions of light-years away from Earth. Joined by a team of Star Command recruits, Buzz searches for a way home while grappling with the darkness lurking in the galaxy. That darkness just so happens to include an army of robots and who better to lead them than the menacing emperor Zurg. Luckily, Buzz will be on the case, backed-up by his team, and ready to save the world.

The star-studded cast of "Lightyear" includes Chris Evans, who has hung up his Captain America shield but still has plenty of time to moonlight as a superhero: he'll be voicing Buzz Lightyear himself. Evans is joined by Peter Sohn as the voice of Sox, Uzo Aduba as Alisha Hawthorne, and James Brolin as Zurg. Keke Palmer, Taika Waititi, and Dale Soules are set to voice the Junior Zap Patrol: Izzy Hawthorne, Mo Morrison, and Darby Steel. The filmmaking team behind "Lightyear" includes director Angus MacLane (co-director "Finding Dory"), producer Galyn Susman ("Toy Story That Time Forgot"), and award-winning composer Michael Giacchino ("The Batman," "Up").

Lightyear first reactions

The early trailers for "Lightyear" were visually dazzling. Not only did they feel like a direct nostalgia injection, but it was also all rooted in the suitably epic David Bowie song "Starman," While the idea of a "Toy Story" spinoff that ignores the toys felt weird, the trailers were powerful enough to snuff out some of that hesitance: an epic space adventure with a familiar face? Why the hell not? But does "Lightyear" live up to all those promises? Now that critics have seen the film, it might be tie to find out.

To kick things off, /Film's Vanessa Armstrong was pleasantly surprised by "Lightyear," calling the movie enjoyable despite her low expectations.

But while she was lukewarm, others were a lot louder about their love for the film. Film Poser's Josie Marie said she was "screaming, crying, and clapping in that theater" while Variety's Courtney Howard called the film a "breathtaking love letter to sci-fi."

Variety's Jazz Tangcay wished a big congrats to director Angus MacLane and shouted out Michael Giacchino's score.

DigitalSpy's Ian Sandwell posed the question we've all been wondering since this unexpected "Toy Story" spinoff was first announced: does "Lightyear" need to exist?

Less positive on the film was Next Big Picture's Matt Neglia, who also took a swing at the question of the hour.

Neglia certainly isn't the only one with mixed feelings on "Lightyear." The Filmcast co-host David Chen called the movie "absolutely bizarre," but also admits that it did its Pixar-bound duty and made him cry.

Love and mixed feelings weren't the only responses to Buzz's new adventure, others were a lot less pleased. "Lightyear" marks Pixar's big return to theaters, after three of their best movies in years were sent straight to Disney+ ("Soul," "Luca," and "Turning Red") — and IndieWire's David Ehrlich argues that its the first of the pandemic films that feels like it belongs on Disney+.

Popcorn & Tequila's Shaye Wyllie enjoyed the movie but agreed with Ehrlich's point — "Lightyear" would've made a good Disney+ release.

Even more disappointed was DiscussingFilm's Aaron Fraggle, who wrote, "This was Pixar's chance to go bold, but instead they went by the book."

But there is one thing that can unite the masses. We have it on very good authority that this movie has an MVP, and it's not the guy in the space ranger suit. Sox, Buzz's adorable robot companion is a bonafide scene-stealer and his impending surge in merch will know no bounds.

Fandango's Erik Davis says the film is a blast, that delivers on the Star Wars vibes it promised in the trailers.

The "Star Wars" comparisons don't stop there. In a thread,'s Charlie Ridgely said "Lightyear" has, "the scope of Star Wars, the adventurous spirit of Star Trek, the heart of Toy Story, the chonk of Gears of War."

On the whole, it sounds like "Lightyear" delivers on its promise of an epic space adventure, but whether or not that's enough to justify its existence and win it a title as one of Pixar's best is in the eye of the beholder. But if all else fails, at least Sox will be there!

"Lightyear" is blasting off into theaters on June 17, 2022.