Review: ‘Lightyear’ is an emotional journey to infinity and beyond

East the article contains spoilers for the latest Disney/Pixar movie, Light-year.

Calling all space rangers, Disney and Pixar Light-year hit theaters June 17 and you’re next in line for a life-changing intergalactic space mission – all you have to do is count down to liftoff. Oh, and bring tissues, trust us.

Light-year tells the story that explains Andy’s special birthday present when we met him at toy story in 1995. While he was excited to open all of his gifts, a space ranger quickly became his favorite gift and most beloved confidant. Andy took Buzz Lightyear everywhere with him, though he never felt (or acted) just like a toy.

Disney’s mission with Light-year it was simple, to explain that feeling, and they did it effortlessly. When we first meet Buzz Lightyear, he is on a space mission with his partner, Commander Alisha Hawthorne, as they detect life on an unknown planet. Of course, the otherworldly life forms and untapped terrain make for more trouble than adventure, and they’ll soon find themselves facing their worst odds yet.

As hard as they try, the team ends up marooned on the planet T’Kani Prime, and it’s not exactly a paradise they’ve stumbled upon. Lightyear simply couldn’t steer the craft in the right direction, resulting in a crash landing.

That fateful decision falls heavily on Lightyear’s shoulders, and he’s waging an internal battle as the rest of his team begins to adjust. This is a significant issue in Light-year movie. While it’s a standout story, the depths of what they’re playing unfolds over the first thirty minutes in a surprisingly emotional way.

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Lightyear’s only hope to correct his mistake is to find a way to safely hyperdrive. Upon his return from the first attempt, Lightyear learns that his trips come at a high cost. While it only took 4 minutes for our favorite ranger, four years go by for those on the planet. That’s how it is; His friends are aging fast as time dares to keep up with Lightyear.

This could have spurred two ideas for Lightyear: jump right in to perfect hyperdrive travel, or take a moment to think about what that means. Lightyear goes for the first option, and soon, those around him are rapidly changing. Her best friend, Hawthorne, is soon getting married with children, and before long, she’s celebrating her 40th anniversary with her partner. Her curls soon turn gray and her face begins to wrinkle as Lightyear continues trying to travel through time and space.

Hawthorne gifts Lightyear with a friend to help him deal with these gaps in time, and fans are introduced to Sox, his robot cat sidekick and the character who steals the show. His gift to Lightyear would help him more than he could have imagined, for, returning from another failed hyperdrive attempt: Hawthorne’s office is empty without a device used to play a video message.

The audience immediately cries when Hawthorne speaks to Lightyear from a hospital bed and realizes that she will no longer be there for his next homecoming. She loved her friend, but she missed him so much over the last few decades, and it hits him when it sends an emotional jolt through all of us: he didn’t soak up those moments with her. He spent all his days trying to change the past instead of enjoying the life that everyone had built around him. He missed everything.

Realizing that, Lightyear also learns that his future travel adventures will be scrapped through an order from Star Command. This puts him on a forbidden mission, and with Sox in tow, he successfully travels at the speed necessary to get home, but his course isn’t easy, or fly.

Without revealing too much, Lightyear soon meets his greatest enemy yet, Zurg and his robot minions. He also meets his best allies, one of whom is Hawthorne’s daughter, Izzy. The team of misfits will soon band together to battle the mysterious robots and conquer their fears at the same time. It’s a mission written in the stars, and it’s one they’ll ultimately face together.

In this final act, Lightyear comes face to face with Zurg, who turns out to be a familiar character. What does he learn from the villain? Will he be able to overcome his power and his life’s struggle? Will he ride home with his crew, or will they realize that home is where you make it? You’ll have to get your ticket to space to find out, and you’ll want to board your spaceship quickly because it’s one mission you don’t want to miss.

You’ll fall in love with Sox, Moe, Darby and Izzy, and feel for Buzz Lightyear, the space ranger and the man, in all his strengths and weaknesses. Lightyear gives us all an afternoon to be children again; he brings us back to an authentic kind of joy.

All in all, Light-year reminds us of the enchantment we felt the first time we sat down to watch toy story. It inspired us to find that childish belief in magic again and within ourselves, and most importantly, it allowed us to realize that our most important moments are happening all around us, if we only slow down enough to notice.


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