Pixar’s Light Year is an insult to the original Buzz Lightyear, but not because of Tim Allen’s rework. The problem goes much deeper, continuing the worst in Toy Story 4 and taking the abuse of Buzz to the extreme. Given the popularity of the original Pixar character, it’s not surprising that the Lightyear version didn’t catch on.
Criticism in Lightyear reviews has focused on its inability to match the quality of Pixar’s best films— or even mediocre ones — with questions about how this movie could be 6-year-old Andy’s favorite movie. The tone doesn’t work for a child, despite the saving grace of Sox the cat, and he doesn’t quite balance his story to impress both family and adult audiences-it’s a pillar of the Pixar movie’s success. And putting aside the ridiculous bombardment of reviews that comes from any even remotely complex content, Lightyear is mostly disappointing because of its potential.
Buzz Lightyear was one of Pixar’s truly great characters, a selfish but sane hero who was wonderful enough to make Woody Tom Hanks feel like a Toy Story villain. The idea that Buzz needed to be reinvented to work in Lightyear doesn’t make sense at best, and at worst is an outright insult, but it’s not surprising when the Toy Story sequels removed what made the character great with each release. By the end of Toy Story 4, Tim Allen’s space Ranger was a parody, he lacked even basic intelligence, and he was greatly sidelined as the film decided to continue Woody’s story. And this suspension was eventually significantly compounded by Lightyear’s decision to completely throw Allen’s characterization out of the window.
Why Chris Evans’ Buzz Lightyear Is So Different
Lightyear director Angus McLane explained that Buzz from Toy Story won’t work in the prequel: “Tim’s version of Buzz is a little dumber and dumber, so he’s a comic character. the hero of the action movie. He’s serious, ambitious and funny, but not in a silly way that could undermine the drama. Chris Evans has the seriousness and movie star qualities that our character needs to separate him and the movie from the Toy Story version of Tim.” Apparently, he wasn’t a good enough hero to make a movie that was supposed to convincingly provoke the obsessive toy buying that led Andy to get his own Buzz for his birthday. The problem, however, is that Buzz Lightyear has always been a hero, always ambitious, always serious and always funny. What he wasn’t was a dumbass—at least until the Toy Story sequels lost sight of him.
In his place, Lightyear chose a more traditional hero, bold, typical and, frankly, more boring than Allen’s version. Yes, Chris Evans’ version has flaws—his fear of what will happen if he doesn’t save the day in the first place—but he’s too healthy, too straightforward, and not disarmingly charming enough to really fit into Buzz’s moon boots from Toy Story. Toy Buzz is incredibly confident, no doubt because his directives are based on the final version of Evans’ fearless hero, and there is range and flair in the way Allen plays him. Chris Evans is a great actor, and at the same time a great superhero actor, but his voice acting follows the trend when the names of actors are chosen without any check for the necessary variety of vocal data.
Why is Lightyear such an insult to the original toy story?
Buzz Lightyear Tim Allen didn’t need to be replaced, but the changes in his character began with the sequels. Tom Hanks’ Woody has always been a hero, and the implied co-billing in the Toy Story finale never came true, as sequels steadily pushed Buzz into a supporting role. He became a comedic character and often became a victim of the comedy “Toy Story”: for example, in the scene with flamenco dancing in “Toy Story 3” and his forgetfulness in “Toy Story 4” on the advice of Woody. Buzz actually degraded, and in Toy Story 4, he was Woody’s assistant at best.
In Lightyear, Tim Allen’s Buzz was not even considered a viable option, despite the fact that he starred in four films and several short films. The evolution of the character in the sequels was so complete that the filmmakers saw only a stupid version that replaced a healthy fool who was only blinded by his program. He wasn’t an idiot in Toy Story, he was a tragic figure, but the sequels made him a contrast to the more straightforward character Woody, and Lightyear’s creative team believed that this was the true essence of Buzz Lightyear. Not only is this completely wrong, it’s also an insult to the original character.