Pixar’s latest movie Lightyear, their first to have a theatrical release since 2020’s Onward, has perhaps set the record for “Pixar movie with the most complicated critical reception”. Nevertheless, it feels comforting to be returning to the familiar territory of theatrical release, followed by Disney+ release, followed by physical release. Lightyear is available on Disney+ from today! The DVD and Blu-ray releases will be on September 13th.
Not only is Lightyear now available on Disney+, but you can also watch it in IMAX Enhanced! This means major sequences will make use of Expanded Aspect Ratio, so the action sequences will be even more impressive. If you missed seeing Lightyear in the cinema, this will give you the next best first-watch experience.
Read on for our first review of Lightyear (with mild spoilers) to commemorate its wider release!
Lightyear is a fun, beautiful, and ambitious space adventure movie. It’s the movie that introduced Toy Story’s Andy to the character Buzz Lightyear, who ended up inspiring a whole line of space ranger toys in the Toy Story universe. The initial premise is a tiny bit convoluted, but you’ll benefit from just not thinking about it too much.
I think the main takeaway from reviews so far is that Lightyear isn’t just a “love it or hate it” movie. You may love it, or hate it, or anything in between. But as ever with Pixar, the attention to detail is incredible: you can really tell how much enthusiasm and talent went into the feel of the world it’s set in, and into the characters and their designs. I like Lightyear a lot. It may not be my favourite Pixar movie, but it may be my favourite space adventure movie. And that is hugely influenced by the best character of the movie: Sox, the loving robot companion cat. (Director Angus MacLane has explained that Andy didn’t own a Sox toy simply because he was completely sold out due to absurdly high demand, which I can one hundred percent believe).
Ever since the release of the near-perfect Toy Story in 1995, Pixar have had to deal with the fairly unique challenge of meeting people’s expectations. As Pixar have continued to rise to that challenge, expectations have become increasingly unrealistic as the years have gone by. This obviously isn’t sustainable. To me, Lightyear, and indeed Turning Red and Luca, have had more of a sense of freedom to them than Pixar movies have had in a long time. This is one of a few reasons that Lightyear has faced mixed reviews. But I think these movies should be celebrated for trying something new, breaking expectations, and not being tied down into focusing on where previous movies have succeeded.
Some criticisms of Lightyear feel right to me. The plot did feel a bit cluttered after the first act – you get the impression that the crew had a lot of ideas that they wanted to be in this movie, and they opted to include maybe a few too many. Ambitious is definitely the word. The rate of new ideas really makes the experience a rollercoaster of emotions. Time travel? Great. Sox? Immaculate. Multi-generational story? Well okay, but the film is only 105 minutes long. Multiple timelines? Wait you’re losing me. Sox in a spacesuit?! OKAY, I’M BACK ON BOARD.
It did feel cluttered, but in a fun way. It was a rollercoaster that I enjoyed every minute of. One criticism that I can’t get on with is that Lightyear felt like the only movie since 2020 to actually deserve a straight-to-Disney+ release. This is nonsensical to me. It’s the perfect movie to welcome you back to the cinema. I saw it in the cinema (which I hadn’t been to in ages), with friends (who I hadn’t seen in ages), and it was just a great time. Stunning visuals, exciting action scenes, loads of twists, and jokes that got the whole audience laughing. It gave me that feeling of “togetherness” that I was craving when Soul, Luca, and Turning Red came out.
If you’re on the fence about watching Lightyear now that it’s out on Disney+, then just do yourself a favour: let go of any expectations you have, watch it, and appreciate how fun and well-made it is. You’ll fall for the characters, the clever plot points, and all those subtle Toy Story references.
I love how different the latest Pixar movies have been. It just makes you realise that they could really take any direction from this point and still surprise us! Here’s to learning more about their next feature film Elemental as the year progresses.
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