Movie: Lightyear
Plot: While spending years attempting to return home, marooned Space Ranger Buzz Lightyear encounters an army of ruthless robots commanded by Zurg who are attempting to steal his fuel source.
Cast: Chris Evans, Keke Palmer, Taika Waititi, Uzo Aduba, and James Brolin
Director: Angus MacLane
Release Date: June 17, 2022
Studio: Pixar Animation Studios
HCA Overall Grade: B

Ryan McQuade says, “Lightyear is a moving movie to see in our modern, cynical times when we can see people grow beyond what they are into the people we need them to be. This storytelling isn’t reinventing the spaceship but that’s okay when it is told so refreshingly and done at such a confident, entertaining level by MacLane and his co-writer Jason Headley. Mix in one of the best new characters in recent Pixar memory in Sox the cat, who steals every scene they are in, and Pixar has another winner on their hands.”

Grade: B

Don Shanahan says, “Without a speck of cumulus cloud wallpaper in sight, the spirit of a child’s favorite film is precisely the type of amplified extravaganza coming your way. If you thought the best big-screen Buzz Lightyear-centered action you would ever get would be the opening of “Toy Story 2,” heavens to Betsy, you ain’t seen nothing yet! Maybe you or your own children will join Andy 27 years later in DIY-ing your own Space Ranger get-ups after this phenomenal adventure.”

Grade: B+

Aaron Neuwirth says, “Referencing everything from the Toy Story films to Star Wars to Star Trek to even 1998’s Lost in Space, a whole lot of care went into making a movie that evokes the sci-fi films director/co-writer Angus MacLane grew up watching. Looking past the fairly simple framework that seems to be confusing adults, this is good stuff for kids.”

Grade: B

Tessa Smith says, “A visually stunning, cinematic masterpiece. Lightyear explores some darker and heavier themes, like the dangers of living in the past and what can pass you by if you choose to only focus on the negative. Sox will steal everyone’s hearts and is by far the best part of the movie, but the cast as a whole is fantastic.”

Grade: A-

Patrick Stoner says, “If you were setting a lure to bring families back into theaters to resume their visits to the big screen, you would go to Pixar and tell them, ‘Get a Buzz on.’”

Grade: A-

Josie Meléndez says, “Pixar does it again! ‘Lightyear’ delivers in heart and humor, approaching the dangers of obsession over perfectionism through an epic sci-fi adventure. In true studio fashion, the movie is perfect for families complete with beautiful diversity and representation that should most definitely become the norm in contemporary storytelling. Also, Sox is the true MVP.”

Grade: A-

Rachel Wagner says, “To my somewhat skeptical surprise it was an enjoyable space adventure. As distracting as all the Toy Story connections are, the core story and characters are fun and the animation is terrific.”

Grade: B

Rick Bentley says, “Under Angus MacLane’s direction, Lightyear hits enough key points to make the film work as long as you can overlook the writing gaffes. It has a solid look and the story moves at a quick pace (possibly to hide the writing problems). Toss in an odd cast of characters and the familiarity of whatever it is you want to call the connection to Toy Story and Lightyear may not go to infinity and beyond but it does maintain an acceptable entertainment orbit.”

Grade: B-

Kevin Taft says, “I have to admit, I was curious about this one in how it fits into the Toy Story franchise. My problem with it is that it oddly feels small. Especially when the title character’s tag line is, “To infinity and beyond.” Yet another time travel/sort of multi-verse movie, Lightyear never takes off. It looks great, but I honestly can’t remember one set piece. Sure, Sox the cat is amusing and “yay” for LGBTQ+ representation (albeit this is supposed to be a “movie” from 1995), but it just doesn’t click on any level. It moves along without really going anywhere truly exciting. And for this to be Toy Story Andy’s favorite movie, I expected more. At his age, my fave movie was Star Wars. This ain’t that.”

Grade: C

Erik Anderson says, “Lightyear doesn’t feel like the Buzz Lightyear we know from Toy Story, which is good and bad. Evans aims high but is less effective than KeKe Palmer and Uzo Aduba’s fantastic work. Sox is great!!”

Grade: B

Michael Lee says, “Lightyear is a visually spectacular love letter to the sci-fi genre. Despite its unclear plot, the film’s themes and story of perseverance, trust, and humility should resonate with audiences. And honestly, who doesn’t love Sox the emotionally supportive robotic tabby cat?”

Grade: B

Cole Jaeger says, “Lightyear offers most of the adventure and heart we’ve come to expect from Pixar. It isn’t the most inspiring story we’ve heard from Pixar, and some characters lack chemistry. Still, this is an engrossing time at the movies, with character-driven action and good laughs from Lightyear’s robot cat sidekick Sox.”

Grade: B

John Nguyen says, “Lightyear is a mildly fun adventure, but for Andy’s favorite movie, I wanted more out of this. As a Pixar movie inspired by Toy Story, it’s lacking that emotional impact. And the best character? It’s Sox, and he needs his own series.”

Grade: C-

Mara Knopic says, “Lightyear is a more than serviceable addition to the Pixar queue, though it fails to soar into its upper echelon despite possessing all the requisite components. Chris Evans was a natural casting choice and shines as the title character, conveying recognition of the previous performance by Tim Allen in the Toy Story films while also creating a distinctive identity for this movie. The plot is coherent and fairly accurate scientifically, yet it does not steer the story to any truly powerful emotional moments; furthermore, the film does not offer a meaningful principle or lesson for children that the viewer has come to expect from Pixar. The movie is visually stunning and a joy to watch on the largest screen possible. Overall, Lightyear is enjoyable and inoffensive, just not excellent.”

Grade: B

David Gonzalez says, “It’s no surprise that Lightyear blasts into the rarefied air of Pixar’s upper echelon. A majestic constellation of cinematic excellence with a space adventure tailor-made for all ages.”

Grade: A

Francisco Cangiano says, “Although it never reaches the emotional stars of the Toy Story saga, it does deliver the goods as an animated sci-fi action-adventure for the whole family. Chris Evans is aces as the lead, while feline buddy Sox steals the whole damn thing.”

Grade: B-

Jana N Nagase says, “Lightyear is visually stunning, fun & entertaining! It’s not the best of Pixar Studios but I had a great time! Sox, the cat robot, is the best character ever created and the best part of this story!!”

Grade: B-

Patrick Beatty says, “A mixture of Star Wars, Star Trek, and Battlestar Galactica, is present in some way with ‘Lightyear’. We know that in Toy Story 2, the story of Buzz is a parody of Star Wars, and while they may throw a curveball for fans expecting a specific moment, it holds true to the inspiration, and keeping to that genre makes it unique in the Pixar universe.”

Grade: B

Maggie Lovitt says, “Lightyear isn’t quite on the same level as Inside Out, Turning Red, and Coco—falling short of the emotionally devastating depths explored in those exceptional films—but it still provides a fun trip to the movies.”

Grade: B

Jana J Monji says, “Lightyear is a triumphant return to the character of Buzz Lightyear–now in a different reality than the Toy Story movies, but despite the family-friend delights, the film is a fail for East Asian representation.”

Grade: B

Zoë Rose Bryant says, “Lightyear may not be a necessary extension of the Toy Story brand, but, taken on its own, it’s a satisfying and suspenseful animated sci-fi spectacle with vibrant visuals, thrilling twists, and a new supporting character standout for Pixar in the form of the sweet (but secretly sly) cat Sox.”

Grade: B

Alexander Robinson says, “It’s weird to say that Lightyear is one of Pixar’s lesser films considering the majority of their catalog. The concept of a standalone Buzz Lightyear movie has a lot of potential considering the background that Pixar had given the character in the Toy Story movies (and the animated series, Buzz Lightyear of Star Command). Chris Evans does a great job voicing this new version of Lightyear and Sox the Cat is just wonderful. Some of the movie’s lowest points however are whenever it makes nostalgic callbacks to Buzz in the Toy Story films. Sometimes these callbacks lead to questionable plot decisions that go against the lore that’s been established in the prior movies. These elements are not bad enough to ruin the movie in any way but you get the feeling that Pixar is clever enough to avoid nostalgia baiting. While Lightyear doesn’t go to infinity and beyond, it is certainly fun at the end of the day and worth checking out.”

Grade: B+

Scott Menzel says, “Lightyear looks great and offers an interesting story for its new characters. On the flip side, Lightyear has a major continuity issue that pretty much ignores what came before it. The film lacks the heart and emotional punch that is found in the majority of Pixar films. Sox the Cat steals the show and is the film’s MVP. Outside of Cars 2, this is the first Pixar film that feels like a complete and total cash grab. It’s a shame that this film didn’t end up on Disney+ instead of Turning Red.”

Grade: C-

Lightyear is playing exclusively in theaters