Upcoming Pixar attended a press day for Lightyear this month. A sneak peek of the first 30 minutes of the film was followed by presentations from the Director (Angus MacLane), Producer (Galyn Susman), Sets Art Director (Greg Peltz), Tailoring and Simulation Supervisor (Fran Kalal), Visual Effects Supervisor (Jane Yen), and Director of Photography (Jeremy Lasky).
We predict Lightyear is going to be universally adored upon its release on June 17th. Actually – to be more precise – our prediction is that Sox, Buzz Lightyear’s cute cat robot companion, is going to be universally adored upon his ‘release’ on June 17th. But there’s a whole lot more to love too. So why do we think the world is going to love Lightyear? We’ll break it down for you below.
Lightyear immediately has to overcome a unique predicament: its premise is very weird. It’s a movie that is so popular in the Toy Story universe, that its fictional space ranger protagonist becomes a best-selling toy. The protagonist of Lightyear is Buzz, but not the Buzz Lightyear we’ve gotten to know over the Toy Story franchise’s almost 3 decades of existence.
So right from lift-off, Lightyear has the difficult task of immersing us in a standalone plot that doesn’t rely too heavily on its origins. After watching the first 30 minutes of the movie, we were invested. Lightyear doesn’t shy away from getting right into the story, and the story (or what we’ve seen of it) is cool.
Lightyear has a time travel theme with a twist. Pixar ended up taking inspiration directly from their world of film-making. After becoming marooned on a hostile planet, Buzz ends up having to experience 4-year time skips, a timespan very similar to how long it takes to create a movie in the animation industry. Director Angus MacLane (who has previously directed Toy Story OF TERROR!) explained how working in the film industry begins to make your life feel like it’s jumping forward in 4-year increments:
“The studio is a bit of a time machine … Our films are very time-consuming to produce. Lightyear took five and a half years. And when you finish one of these movies, you come up for air … The world outside these walls of Pixar is a little different than you remember.”
MacLane wanted to explore the theme of “nostalgia for the past while rapidly jumping into the future”.
There are so many great characters in Lightyear, many of which we were barely introduced to in the first act.
Buzz Lightyear (voiced by Chris Evans) is a brave space ranger who seems to spend his time making courageous yet rash decisions. His commander Alisha Hawthorne (voiced by Uzo Aduba) is an equally brave space ranger, but leans a little more on the sensible side.
Sox (voiced by the beloved Peter Sohn, a.k.a. Squishy, a.k.a. Emile) is the movie’s “cute thing”: Buzz’s companion and constant through space and time. Sox is very sweet, and very smart, and also has a welding laser emitter, long range scanners, whisker sensors, an empathy drive, magnet paws, and cat-like reflexes.
Later on, we’ll meet ambitious and varied recruits Izzy (voiced by Keke Palmer), Mo (voiced by Taika Waititi), and Darby (voiced by Dale Soules).
And yes…we will be meeting a giant robot Zurg in Lightyear, voiced by James Brolin. We can’t wait to see what Zurg’s evil origin story might be.
So much thought has gone into the look of Lightyear. From the posters and trailers everyone has seen so far, it’s clear that there is a lot more realism involved than in more recent Pixar movies. Pixar didn’t want to have cartoony characters in a realistic world, nor did they want realistic characters in a cartoony world. They wanted to have it all perfectly balanced, which they have definitely succeeded in doing.
Every little detail has been thought of. Pixar employees took a research trip to NASA. Producer Galyn Susman (who has previously produced Toy Story That Time Forgot), actually studied physics with a dream of becoming an astronaut, so she did some really thorough research! You’ll see the influences in all the complex dials and buttons in Buzz’s spaceships, and the design of the spacesuits that change periodically in 4-year increments.
The team made a decision early on to make the look and feel of all the gadgets and devices in Lightyear very chunky, functional, and tactile. There are no touch screens or fancy holograms. All the technology is influenced by the 1970s/80s: lots of chunky buttons and cartridges and switches. MacLane is an avid LEGO fan, and would often build spaceship designs at home, which the sets art department would form into designs that made it into the final film.
The Director of Photography, Jeremy Lasky, was also the Director of Photography on WALL-E, Pixar’s only other space epic.
We could go on and on about Lightyear and everything we’ve learned about it so far. We could in particular go on and on about Sox into infinity and beyond, but we’ll wait until everyone has had a chance to be swept away by his cat-robot charm before we give any more away.
Keep an eye out for more behind-the-scenes details as we approach June 17th when Lightyear releases in theatres! We can’t wait!Tags: Lightyear Last modified: April 20, 2022