Buzz lacks a spark

Lightyear (PG, 107 minutes)

Pixar are masters of audience manipulation. Just look at the first ten minutes of Up or the last five of Toy Story 3. But at least we recognize that our emotions are being played with and we readily accept that as part of the entertainment.

However, they have shown in recent years, especially with the last Minions movie, that they are not averse to spreading the love a little too thinly in the knowledge that a name can guarantee bums on seats at least once, maybe twice.

Where this origin story fails is that this is not the Buzz we have come to know and love. That character is, as cowboy Woody constantly reminded him, a toy, whereas this space ranger is the actual hero our Buzz is modelled on.

Marooned ranger Buzz encounters an army of ruthless robots commanded by arch enemy Zurg (ahh, a familiar figure), who attempt to steal his fuel source in a story that lacks inspiration or the sort of imagination that usually brings Pixar characters to life.

The film has even got itself banned in the UAE and Indonesia because of a same sex kiss. Nothing against what is perfectly normal in this day and age and I’m delighted that it has caused outrage amongst saddos still living in the dark past, but it’s animation. Did that box really need ticking?

While this Buzz looks vaguely familiar, he’s not the same, from the change in personality to the voice, provided by Chris Evans instead of Tim Allen.

I’m showing my age now, but it reminded me of when the Herge’s Adventures of Tintin cartoon suddenly changed in the mid 60s with a different actor providing the voice of the title character. Even as an eight-year old I noticed and found it incredibly annoying.

I suppose that the effect here caused the same reaction just confirms that I’ve never grown up, but it also highlights a flaw, and a rare one at that, in Pixar’s reading of its core audience.

Because what’s the point in taking one of your most popular creations and eradicating most of the things that made it so successful in the first place?

But then, remember even Pixar at its worst is still likely to be better than other computer generated animation adventures.

RATING: 5/10


Mick Ferris

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