With its fabulous animation, honorable hero, and lovable sidekicks, this tribute to a host of space adventures is a story of perseverance, teamwork, and friendship. This version of Buzz Lightyear is ideally voiced by Evans, who already has that perfect Captain America halo of courage, loyalty, and hard work. For him, finishing a mission is paramount -- even above his own comfort or sense of belonging. His relationship with Alisha/Commander Hawthorne is a highlight, because they have complementary strengths and trust and respect each other. Aduba does a lovely job of expressing the commander's concern, love, and humor for her space ranger partner/bestie. Similarly, Palmer, Soules, and Waititi are hilarious as the ragtag trio who test Buzz's ability to rely on others, ask for help, and act as a patient and encouraging team leader. And Peter Sohn's scene-stealing portrayal of Sox the brilliant and candid robo cat is sure to delight viewers of all ages.
Director Angus MacLane impresses with the technical excellence of the movie's animation: Textured hair, Sox's fur, and the aggressive vines are as amazingly detailed as the epic landscapes of space and the planet on which all the action takes place. Composer Michael Giacchino's score is spot-on for '90s blockbusters, and the script tips its hat to nearly all of the big space-based films, from 2001 to Star Wars and back again. And Disney takes a big step forward (for them) on the representation and inclusion front by featuring a Black lesbian character. There's no coming out necessary for Commander Hawthorne; Buzz knows that his best friend's partner would be a "her," just as she knew he would need Sox because he'd end up lonely after all the time jumps. Animated movies need more organic inclusion, and Lightyear handles it in a natural way. Ultimately, although Lightyear isn't at the top of Pixar's "heartwarming" (and heartrending) scale, it's far more than the cash cow some viewers expected.