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24th June 2022

Words: Shane Ramdhany

Pixar’s latest meditation involving Toy Story’s iconic space ranger is simultaneously endearing and unremarkable in its storytelling approach.  It pivots between formulaic and bland to mildly emotional and thrilling at its best moments.  While it cannot be defined as Pixar’s magnum opus, it is at its highest point a serviceable film within the studio’s cinematic metric.

We follow Buzz Lightyear (Chris Evans) on a journey that attempts to explore themes of variable timelines and the cycle of life.  This theme elicits a feeling of poignancy at specific moments but its sustainability wanes as time goes on (no pun intended).  This is primarily due to its utilization of an unfocused lens when driving the story forward.  There are moments where it gravitates towards themes surrounding comradery but end up muddled by overlapping themes of existentialism within time and space. The latter ends up generating more of an endorsement due to its intriguing ideas but is inevitably held back by the former.

Evans casting as the title hero is a glove that fits all too well. Due to his familiarity as one of America’s beloved Avengers, his role in this film seems like a natural assimilation.  However, the cost benefit of this scenario is feeling of familiarity within the character itself that results in a struggle to define the unique prowess of his heroism.  That being said, Evans provides an earnest performance that is more than serviceable to the role.  When this concept of familiarity is combined with uneven storytelling, it yields several missed opportunities to exude more emotional depth.  

The film’s strength lies in its most human moments due to endearing characters so it’s somewhat disappointing that the writing fails to evolve these sequences beyond formulaic ideas of comradery, the fallacy of arrogance and the manipulation of destiny.  These are all notions that could have been embellished to craft a more moving tale but sadly they end up feeling little more than a prototype.  If the narrative had more success with moving beyond what is simply good conceptualization, we would have been treated to a space opera with depth that parallels the universe it spans.  

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