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Buzz Lightyear of Star Command: The Adventure Begins
A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that the action relies too much on battles and explosions, but introduces likeable new characters. There is some serious drama here, though, that may disturb kids: Buzz believes that his partner has died and mourns at a funeral service. Zurg turns a good ranger to evil. Crater vipers try to bite Buzz's head off. Little Green Men get tortured by aliens. When Zurg steals their planet's Uni-Mind to turn people to evil, Commander Nebula speaks in Zurg's voice. The ideal age for this clever space parody is grade-school kids. Older kids get more of the references to famous sci-fi movies, though the theme may seem trite to them.
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What's the story?
Woody, Rex, and the gang are pleased to receive the new "Buzz Lightyear of Star Command" video, which they pop in to watch. Buzz and fellow Space Ranger Warp Darkmatter try to rescue three kidnapped Little Green Men from Zurg's forces, but Warp disappears in an explosion during the attempt, leaving Buzz without a partner. Back at Star Command, Commander Nebula tries to pair Buzz with rookie Princess Mira Nova, but Buzz prefers his solitude. Buzz does agree to take experimental robot XR on a mission to save the Little Green Men. When Zurg steals the Uni-Mind that allows the Little Green Men to work as a collective, gutsy Mira embarks on a forbidden plan to stop him, with Buzz in pursuit. Buzz must be reminded of the value of cooperation before his team can explore infinity and beyond.
Is it any good?
It's no Toy Story, but this offshoot brings back many familiar characters in a fast-paced adventure that amuses adult science fiction fans as well as kids who like Buzz and Zurg. Though it parodies the Star Wars movies, none of the jokes gets a laugh like Zurg's confession that he's Buzz's father in Toy Story 2. Still, lines echoing the rebel mission against the Death Star and Princess Leia's dislike of her title are humorous.
Though there are many fights and explosions, the violence always looks comical. Only robots (which the engineers rebuild) receive serious damage. A 4-year-old viewer pointed out that Buzz, Zurg, and the Rangers wear body armor and use mechanical wings to fly; he saw them as superheroes without the physical weaknesses of real people or even of toys, which can break. Like the fighting kids see on Saturday-morning cartoons, the combat scenes are more about action than injury. The message about following school rules gets a little muddled since Buzz and his team keep breaking them, but the emphasis on teamwork and collaboration is reinforced throughout. Younger kids won't realize that brainwashing devices, pit vipers, and regulations on lightspeed travel are staples of cheap sci-fi movies, though some may recognize the voice of Star Trek's William Shatner performing the concluding song.