Lightyear (2022) Review

I was sitting in the imax screening of Lightyear when I started to wonder why all the previews were about kids movies. Then it hit me, I was sitting in a kids movie. I don’t think that strategy was around when I was growing up, but I love that the industry made the adjustment. One of the greatest surprises was the advertising of the 40th anniversary of Steven Spielberg’s E.T. : The Extra-Terrestial, which is making a return to IMAX screens this year. It made me feel nostalgic, and for one second I was a boy hoping for a return to that world.

But in the meantime, I was exploring another galaxy which provided some stunning visuals. In fact, the film contains 30 minutes of IMAX animation. You can always count on Pixar’s innovation, and they did not hold back with this space ranger. They developed a virtual IMAX camera system (including a large sensor equivalent to 65mm and spherical lenses) to shoot the sequences at full frame 1.43:1. While simultaneously shooting the rest of the film in virtual anamorphic 2.39:1 (by “center cropping” the image.) Using a widescreen presentation was done intentionally, as it emulates the way ’70s and ’80s sci-fi movies were shot.

But Pixar didn’t stop there, they consulted with IMAX in regards to creating an immersive experience by not overlooking how sound affects the speaker set up as a result of its proprietary mastering. Ultimately flipping Pixar’s workflow on its head, and requiring a new approach to shot composition, editorial, and sound consideration.

Much has been said of Lightyear, with many not understanding why Tim Allen wasn’t returning as the title character, myself included. Others are concerned about how it lacks the heart of the Toy Story franchise Buzz was born from. If you take Andrew Stanton, writer of Toy Story 2, and you take renowned writer/director Pete Docter (writer of Up, Inside Out and Soul) as your executive producers, you’d think you are in good company to deliver once more. But they could not conjure the magic to make a proper origin story.

It wouldn’t be a proper Pixar movie if it didn’t deliver with it’s positive messages, and in that regard it delivers with the run of the mill, believe in yourself motif. But it modernizes this frame of thought, by encouraging individuals to forgive themselves whenever they fail or make a mistake. It’s the message that encompasses every character in the story, the idea of second chances, allowing others the opportunity to try again. But it’s also underscored by a more compelling concept, time travel.

If you could go back in time to remedy your mistakes, is it worth the price of admission? Often time we wish we had a rewind button but we weren’t given one because we would never stay in play. Rarely does a time travel movie offer stakes. Lightyear teaches you that it’s too high a price and it’s often a selfish maneuver.

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