Heartbreaking crap, Spiritually empty, & Half-baked: First Reviews are in for “Lightyear” & no one is holding back

lightyear reviews
Credit: Canva Creation

PIXAR’s Lightyear reviews are in as the film finally debuted at the box office on Friday, and already, the criticism within those reviews has flooded the internet and landed in the musings of online users on social media around the continent. And let’s just say that so far, many of those reviews are far less than (inter)stellar.

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pixar lightyear

Credit: PIXAR Animation Studios

According to the Denver Post, the spinoff “has no reason to exist,” but PIXAR says otherwise. In fact, the pensive powerhouse that took the world of animation by storm in 1995 had plans for the Lightyear story even then.

Lightyear, according to PIXAR, is the “definitive origin story” of the brightest space ranger at Star Command–one so bright and so great that he single-handedly inspires an entire line of children’s toys and action figures. You’ve known his name since the first time you watched Toy Story. After all, he’s the prototype for Buzz Lightyear in PIXAR’s Toy Story film franchise.

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buzz lightyear and lightyear

Credit: PIXAR Animation Studios

But for PIXAR’s efforts, the film has “polarized critics,” according to The Independent, with some reviewers praising the spirit of the film and others unabashedly calling it out for any number of reasons.

The Telegraph is merciless in its one-out-of-five-stars scathing review of PIXAR’s first film to hit the box office in almost 900 days, saying it is “heartbreakingly crap,” and “PIXAR’s dreariest, most spiritually empty film to date.” The Telegraph lays the groundwork for the review by describing Disney’s current take on “new” productions, which sets the stage wherein “spin-offs get the fanfare, while new ideas have the air of sheepish afterthoughts.”

If we’re honest, that’s exactly how many of us feel about Disney’s no-end-in-sight line of live-action remakes. It’s distasteful and evidence of a desert where once flowed the milk and honey of creativity.


Credit: PIXAR Animation Studios

“For perhaps the first time in the studio’s canon, every idea in this ‘origin story’ of the Toy Story astronaut feels woefully half-baked. It’s a sign of how much has changed.”

The post continues:

The premise, we’re told in an opening caption, is that this is the film that prompted the 1995 Buzz Lightyear craze – which young Andy, the owner of Woody and Buzz, considered his “favorite movie.” But “Lightyear” doesn’t remotely resemble the beloved family entertainments of that time, let alone wittily and revealingly undercut them. (And isn’t it painfully easy to imagine a Pixar film brilliantly doing just that?) Instead, it looks and behaves like franchise-driven corporate content from the early 2020s, just marking time until it hits feature-length.

-Robbie Collin, The Telegraph


Credit: PIXAR Animation Studios says Lightyear is “one of only a handful in the studio’s 27-year history to feel first and foremost like a piece of well-engineered corporate IP.” Also, the film is apparently very sad.

Though “Toy Story 3” may draw forth more tears from audiences—I’ll never forget my then-thirty-something editor sobbing beside me through that final scene—it is “Lightyear” that, [when] looked at from a broader perspective, is the saddest of the “Toy Story” movies.

-Dana Stevens, Slate

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Credit: PIXAR Animation Studios

If the film trumps the sad parts of Toy Story 3, am I sure I want to see it? To this day, the final scene of the film evokes feelings of sadness and overwhelm–first because of the toys and my innate draw to empathize with them: “Do the toys feel left behind? Do they feel abandoned?” And today, because I have children, I know those “going away to college” days will come, and the sight of Andy driving away is sometimes too much to watch.

Roger Ebert posted his review of the film only moments before the publication of this post, and his understanding of the film’s premise contradicts what PIXAR has told us so far.

Ebert says Lightyear “is not the origin story of the Buzz Lightyear toy,” but rather the “story of the reason the Buzz Lightyear toy wound up in Andy’s bedroom” in the first Toy Story film.

Lightyear' Review: Chris Evans is Pixar's 'Toy Story' Space Ranger – The Hollywood Reporter

Credit: PIXAR Animation Studios

**It’s important to note that Ebert’s review is chock full of spoilers, so if you’re planning to see the film, you might want to dance around his review, at least until you’ve seen it for yourself. 

Ebert goes on to detail the struggles faced by the space ranger in the film, saying that he, like Buzz Lightyear, the action figure, is often prone to do things his way, prone to stubbornness, and prone to ignoring the wisdom of others. This stubbornness costs Buzz Lightyear many things–the most prevalent being precious time.

A Buzz Lightyear Quote for Every Situation | Disney Quotes

Credit: PIXAR Animation Studios

None of these reviews mention the film’s controversial content as the basis for their negativity. Lightyear is the first PIXAR film to feature a same-sex relationship, an addition with which some have taken issue. Because of this, the film was banned in several countries after PIXAR refused to modify the content in the new film.

Lightyear debuted today at box offices in the United States and Canada.

About Becky Burkett

Becky's from the Lone Star State and has been writing since she was 10 and encountered her first Disney Park when she was 11. It was love at first Main Street Electrical Parade. Joy is blank lined journals, 0.7 mm pens, and all things Walt, Woody and Buzz, PIXAR, Imagineering, Sleeping Beauty (make it blue!), Disney Parks history and EPCOT. At Disney World, you'll find her croonin' with the birdies at the Enchanted Tiki Room or hangin' with Woody and the gang at Toy Story Land. If you can dream, you really can do it!