Blast off into a spacetime adventure with Buzz Lightyear anytime you like with “Lightyear” on home video.

With sequels, prequels, and legacy sequels all the rage as a means of tapping into pre-existing IP to create media for consumption, that Disney/Pixar would reach into their catalogue to do the same is neither unheard of (The Lion King 1 1/2) or uncommon (Cars on the Road). That The Mouse House would decide to center a film on one of their most beloved characters, Buzz Lightyear from Toy Story (1995), doesn’t surprise as much as it seem like it should’ve come sooner. If it had, perhaps it wouldn’t have been so confusing to audiences in concept. Directed/co-written by Angus MacLane (Finding Dory) and co-writer Jason Headley (Onward), Lightyear is meant to be the film that little Andy (John Morris) saw in theaters prior to the events of Toy Story. This is meant to be his Star Wars (1977). We’ll get into this more later, especially because it’s something that still confuses people, but for those who had no problem with the timeline, enjoyed the theatrical adventure, or hadn’t been able to see it yet, MacLane and Headley’s film is available on digital-to-own and Disney+ to stream as of August 3rd and comes to physical formats on September 13th. With the home release, you can blast off on this spacetime adventure whenever you like!

If you’re looking for a spoiler-free way to way to learn about Lightyear, I recommend heading over to the initial theatrical review. Moving forward, there will be details spilled about the mission at hand.


Chris Evans as Buzz Lightyear in LIGHTYEAR. © 2021 Disney/Pixar. All Rights Reserved.

On a return trip from a scientific expedition, Space Ranger Buzz Lightyear (voiced by Chris Evans) decides to stop the spacecraft carrying himself, ranking officer Alisha Hawthorne (voiced by Uzo Aduba), and a host scientists to investigate a previously unknown planet dubbed T’Kani Prime. Putting his pride before better judgement, Buzz ends up marooning them all, requiring them to set up shop on the less-than-hospitable planet until they can re-create the power source necessary to get themselves off-world. Hope arrives when a temp fuel source is created, but, with each test by Buzz, he shoots a little further into the future: four years per attempt, to be exact. Feeling himself a failure for stranding them all, Buzz carries the weight of each trial as a personal burden until he accidentally finds himself outside of his time, beyond the lifetime of the people he knows, still stuck on T’Kani Prime, but with a larger, looming threat attacking the children’s children of the original mission. Can Buzz get past his failures and save the day or will his pride continue to get the best of him, making everything worse?

First, in case you missed the rigamarole surrounding Lightyear, here’s a quick rundown.

The marketing leading up to the release suggested that Evans’s version of Buzz would be about the real-life Lightyear that the toy would later be based on. This, of course, makes sense as there are plenty of toys or action figures about actual famous individuals: athletes, celebrities, etc. Of course, this does raise larger questions about the tech in the Toy Story universe, yet, audiences were game for it without thinking much of it. Upon the release, however, the film starts with text cards explaining that Lightyear is actually the film that Andy saw in theaters. This makes greater sense than the original explanation as who among the audience (even perhaps you, dear reader) hasn’t owned an action figure from a television program or film you’ve enjoyed? Personally, this aspect makes far more sense conceptually (even if the narrative contains elements that would’ve been considered brazen for the era of its release). Then there was an entire uproar, primarily on the Conservative side of media discussion, regarding Tim Allen, the original voice of Buzz, not returning to voice this Buzz. The actor has voiced every version of Buzz to date (except for the animated series Buzz Lightyear of Star Command (Patrick Warburton), plus video games and shorts (Pat Fraley & Mike MacRae)), so some were upset that Allen didn’t return, citing his Conservative status as the reason Disney didn’t want to work with him on the new project. Except, (a) this film’s narrative wasn’t related to the Buzz of Toy Story, (b) Allen hadn’t always voiced the character, and (c) Allen is doing a Santa Clause television program for Disney+ slated for a Winter 2022 release. The uproar was without merit, but it gave people something to complain about, whereas the film itself is quite enjoyable when it can separate itself from Toy Story, a feat that’s too hard to pull off.


L-R: Chris Evans as Buzz Lightyear and Uzo Aduba as Alisha Hawthorne in LIGHTYEAR. © 2022 Disney/Pixar. All Rights Reserved.

I discussed some of this in the theatrical review, but to dig in a little further, one of my gripes with the film is the inevitability Lightyear has to contend with in having moments in which the film version and the toy version overlap. If you’re not familiar with the term “toyetic,” don’t worry, there’s a *fantastic* almost-10-minute featurette that digs into this, but the short version is that a property’s toyetic status relates to how likely it is to create toys based on the property. Obviously, a film like Lightyear would be toyetic because Andy bought one, which automatically means that at some point in Lightyear, Buzz must use his voice log device, his gauntlet laser, his rocket wings, say “to infinity and beyond,” and more. When they appear naturally without overuse (unlike the running gag about mission narration), they’re seriously enjoyable, tickling nostalgia while also coming across as authentic original moments. Take the moment when Buzz pops his wings for the first-time; it’s heroic and badass in styling within a pretty terrific sequence, resulting in an automatic fist pump out of excitement. That’s the kind of cinematic experience one can totally see Andy trying to replicate with his Buzz. One big problem, though, is if I watched this film as a kid as I did Toy Story, I would’ve wanted a Sox (voiced by Peter Sohn) and that Andy didn’t is the kind of narrative discrepancy that doesn’t jive. Sox is far more likeable, he’s cuddly, and an incredible Swiss Army-like tool. WHO WOULDN’T WANT ONE OF THEIR OWN?!


Chris Evans as Buzz Lightyear and Peter Sohn as Sox in LIGHTYEAR. © 2021 Disney/Pixar. All Rights Reserved.

Another issue I found with the film is the way it continually browbeats the message within the narrative. The mission finds itself off-course because of Buzz’s arrogance, thinking he knows best and has to do everything alone because he’s the only one who can do something. This is the catalyst for the story and it creates the opportunity for Buzz to push himself, not just emotionally away from his friends, but physically as he journeys through time again and again and again to try to get them home while everyone else takes the necessary time to come to terms with their situation. Because of his stubbornness and false sense of self-reliance, Buzz sends himself decades into the future (only a few months to him, keeping the mistake he made very raw from his perspective) without fixing a damn thing. When he finally meets Izzy Hawthorne (voiced by Keke Palmer), Alisha’s granddaughter, he keeps trying to make everything the same, resulting in many complications and trip-ups because he can’t adapt or accept. It’s a heck of a hero’s journey for Buzz and watching him fail so frequently gets exhausting after a while. Thankfully, once he learns his lesson, the film grows quite satisfying in its conclusion.

Chances are, however, that you came to this looking for details on the home release, so let me break this down for you in the simplest terms: get ready to nerd out.

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Chris Evans as Buzz Lightyear in LIGHTYEAR. © 2021 Disney/Pixar. All Rights Reserved.

Unlike a lot of recent home releases, the majority of Disney and Pixar films, especially the animated ones, include the kinds of bonus materials aimed to invite home audiences into the filmmaking process. In three featurettes, totaling around 35 minutes, audiences get to learn about how they developed the tactile-looking world of Lightyear, detailing everything from art design, set dressing, production design, and character creation, walking us through aspects that feature formerly used NASA space suits, the tools of Industrial Light & Magic, as well as inspiration derived from Star Wars via the Lucas Museum. Like the featurettes of Encanto (2021) and Turning Red (2022) before them, Lightyear’s bonus materials equally invite audiences to get excited about the most technical aspects of animation creation, while making the technical accessible. Admittedly, these bonus materials, more than the other mentioned, are aimed at an older audience. Certainly LEGO enthusiasts will enjoy learning about how MacLane first developed many of the characters of Lightyear using LEGO and the “Toyetic” featurette shows off the proof versions of the toys now on shelves.


L-R: Keke Palmer as Izzy Hawthorne, Peter Sohn as Sox, Taika Waititi as Mo Morrison, Dale Soules as Darby Steel, and Chris Evans as Buzz Lightyear in LIGHTYEAR. © 2022 Disney/Pixar. All Rights Reserved.

Additionally, there’re six deleted scenes, plus an introduction, that lay out an alternate opening, an alternate storyline that would’ve seen Buzz’s father as the villain (as set-up by Toy Story 2), and a character cut for the sake of time. The majority of these feature scratch voices, though one was so close to inclusion that Evans did record dialogue, but none of them got past the animatic phase of development. If this isn’t enough, there’s also a feature-length commentary track from MacLane, Headley, and director of photography Jeremy Lasky (Finding Nemo) that’s as much a guided tour of the film as anything.


Chris Evans as Buzz Lightyear and James Brolin as Zurg in LIGHTYEAR. © 2022 Disney/Pixar. All Rights Reserved.

On a rewatch, Lightyear is a fun experience, even when bogged down by the browbeating approach to the message and the heaviness of the callbacks. The cast is game, the cinematography and design of the world is gorgeous and thoughtful, and there’s at least one sequence in which I continue to feel uneasy at the vastness of space. I don’t know if Lightyear will be a launchpad for future adventures as the end credits imply (hope?) it may, but I’d be delighted to go on a new mission. Especially if Sox is involved.

Lightyear Special Features*:

  • Lightyear Filmmaker Commentary – Join director Angus MacLane, writer Jason Headley, and director of photography Jeremy Lasky as they provide insight into the making of this remarkable animated feature while you watch it. (1:45:05)
  • Building the World of Lightyear – Visits to the Johnson Space Center in Houston and a very familiar cinematic archive gave the filmmakers inspiration as they embarked on the exciting journey of creating Lightyear’s breathtaking production design. (14:28)
  • The Zap Patrol – Meet the actors who gave voice to Izzy, Mo and Darby, the untrained, unprepared rangers who join Buzz on the adventure of a lifetime. While the misfits may not seem ideal for the mission, their unlikely friendship helps see them through challenging times. (9:04)
  • Toyetic – Learn why Lightyear is one of the most “toyetic” films ever. Join director Angus MacLane and others on the meticulous, fun process of creating toy models for spaceships and other production elements that led to the film’s richly textured animation. (9:54)
  • Deleted Scenes Introduction – Director Angus MacLane introduces six scenes that are all drawn, set to music, timed and voiced, but are not included in the final version of this amazing film – which took five and a half years to make! (0:57)
  • The Dump – In one of Lightyear’s original opening scenes, we explore Proxima B, with its carnivorous plants, sulfur pits, weird bugs, hot climate, and lack of coffee! A familiar Space Ranger volunteers to risk all in an effort to return to Earth. (3:58)
  • Polly – Buzz relives childhood memories when he visits an aeronautic museum in which his father is memorialized. There, he finds Polly, his dad’s robot companion bird, who possesses a very revealing recorded message meant for Buzz! (4:42)
  • Meet Izzy – After young Izzy and her family (including her brother Maurice) move in next door to Buzz, the adorable, talkative girl bursts into Buzz’s home, warms up to Sox, and asks Buzz a lot of questions. (2:05)
  • Up in the Lair – After his spacecraft crash-lands and he winds up in the bunker of fledgling Space Rangers, Buzz is introduced to cheesy snacks and a character whose role was cut due to time. He also receives shocking information about his father. (5:32)
  • Tilted Ship – Star Command Space Rangers of the 56th Airborne Alpha Quadrant meet Buzz and the Space Ranger students. Buzz is given a truth serum so he’ll expose whatever he knows about his father’s connection to the aliens who have taken over Proxima B. (5:06)
  • Fathership – Buzz wakes up in what he thinks is his childhood home, where he meets his father, who was a time travel pilot, just as he is. But it turns out he’s on the mothership of the aliens who are destroying Proxima B – and hope to vanquish Buzz as well! (4:18)

*bonus features vary by product and retailer

Available on digital and Disney+ August 3rd, 2022.

Available on 4K Ultra HD, Blu-ray and DVD September 13th, 2022.

For more information, head to Walt Disney Studios/Pixar’s Lightyear webpage.

Categories: Home Release, Recommendation

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