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Pixar’s return to theaters has been a long time coming for fans. Following the straight-to-Disney+ releases of Turning Red, Soul and Luca due to the pandemic, it’s been, frankly, too long since we’ve gotten to experience the animation company’s projects the way they’re meant to be seen. It gets even better when you consider that Lightyear, the Toy Story spinoff about the famous space ranger, is the movie that will make that return to the big screen. If you thought you were excited to see the Buzz Lightyear origin story before, just wait until you see these first reactions.
The first 30 minutes of Lightyear were previewed at CinemaCon in Las Vegas, and the media who attended the sneak peek really seem excited about what they experienced. Outside of the trailer — which confirmed we’d hear Buzz Lightyear’s “to infinity and beyond” catchphrase — viewers also previously hadn’t gotten to hear much of Chris Evans’ turn at voicing the titular character, as he is replacing Tim Allen, who voiced the toy in the original movie series. Let’s check out the social media reactions from those who were lucky enough to see the preview.
CinemaBlend’s Sean O’Connell was in attendance, and he calls what he saw “Pixar’s Star Wars.” He praises the animation and says it delivers an unexpected emotional hook:
Saw the opening 20 minutes of #Lightyear. It’s Pixar’s STAR WARS. It’s an original Sci-fi, with spectacular animation and a surprisingly unexpected emotional hook. I went in skeptical, but LOVED what we saw. pic.twitter.com/uqkTx3nED8April 27, 2022
Star Wars is mentioned in more than one reaction, as Lightyear leans more sci-fi than Toy Story’s friendship-based comedies. With the plot being based on the character’s origin story rather than the toy he’s based on, Pixar was free to take the movie in a way different direction, and Charlie Ridgely of ComicBook.com notes that the movie feels more influenced by the tale of a galaxy far, far away than anything seen in Andy’s bedroom. That’s a good thing, in this critic’s eyes, as he says he adores every frame:
I’m finally allowed to say that I’ve seen about 30 minutes of #Lightyear and it’s easily one of my favorite things Pixar has done in years. It’s a full-blown sci-fi blockbuster and I’m not sure we’ve ever seen an animated film quite like it. https://t.co/0u44Jejf7LApril 21, 2022
Parents, get your wallets ready, because critics are confirming what you’ve likely suspected since first viewing the trailer: Kids are going to be begging for Sox merch. Sox, the robotic cat voiced by Peter Sohn, is apparently a show-stealer, and John Rocha of The Outlaw Nation says to be sure to snatch up the toys as soon as they’re available:
THAT WAS A FANTASTIC 30 MINUTES OF #LIGHTYEAR !!No spoilers. Just know that everyone will want a #Sox toy as soon as this film comes out. So start buying them right now or as soon as they become available.TRUST. ME.#Disney #Pixar #Cinemacon pic.twitter.com/MoQrj0y01BApril 27, 2022
Fandango walked away from the first 30 minutes of Lightyear with that same impression, and simply tells viewers to be prepared to fall in love with Sox!
They showed the first 30 minutes of #Lightyear at #CinemaCon and prepare to fall in love with Sox the robot companion cat when they blast off into space June 17! pic.twitter.com/wy58Q3AcYXApril 27, 2022
Erik Davis of Fandango says he was excited to see Pixar on the big screen after so many years. Rather than Star Wars vibes, this critic was feeling more Interstellar, and called the movie “Big, emotional, dorky Pixar sci-fi.” I have no doubt fans are ready to geek out over this one.
We just watched the first 30 min of #Lightyear, which is a BLAST. Got some Interstellar vibes & Sox the cat is gonna steal the entire movie. This was the first Pixar footage I’ve watched on a big screen in years, and it looked gorgeous. Big, emotional, dorky Pixar sci-fi pic.twitter.com/zQEevgGhB8April 27, 2022
Following the “Don’t Say Gay” backlash Disney faced recently, Pixar announced they were reinstating a previously cut same-sex kiss between Uzo Aduba-voiced Alisha Hawthorne and another character. We won’t know the context of that moment until Father’s Day weekend, but Jeffrey Harris of 411Mania says the movie looks to have some “emotional” and “poignant” threads, so that could fall into that category. Harris calls it “classic Pixar style with a hard sci-fi plot,” and he’s ready to see more than 30 minutes:
First 30 minutes of Pixar’s Lightyear shown at CinemaCon. Looks fantastic so far. This looks like one of the most adult and sophisticated animated movies Pixar has ever done. Reminds me of classic Trek, Interstellar, and 2001: A Space Odyssey. #Pixar #Lightyear pic.twitter.com/8NtzOG2XxlApril 27, 2022
Courtney Howard of Variety raves that she was blown away by the film’s visuals. She says the story sets up a compelling hero’s journey for the space ranger, and while we’d expect nothing less from Pixar or this franchise, this confirmation is exciting all the same:
Got to watch about 30 minutes or so of #LIGHTYEAR & was blown away by how visually appealing it is. The environments & character design, scale & scope look epic & breathtaking. The story, specifically casting Buzz as his own worst enemy, also sets up a compelling hero’s journey pic.twitter.com/x92Uu2JBkVApril 21, 2022
The reactions to Chris Evans taking over Buzz Lightyear acting duties from Tim Allen have been positive. Tessa Smith of Mama’s Geeky goes so far as to say, “Chris Evans was the one and only choice to voice this version of Buzz Lightyear,” pointing out that the character shares qualities with another Evans role — Captain America:
Pixar’s Lightyear goes down an unexpected plot path — time travel — but that’s exactly what works. Chris Evans IS Buzz Lightyear. Sox will steal your heart. Zurg is BADASS! Explores the dark side of nostalgia. This isn’t your parent’s Toy Story! #Lightyear (I’ve seen 30 mins) pic.twitter.com/CXjLpk98OGApril 21, 2022
Unfortunately we’ve still got a couple of months to go before we can check out the sci-fi Toy Story spinoff, but it’s encouraging to know that critics like what they saw in the first half-hour of Lightyear. The first Pixar film to return to theaters will do so on Friday, June 17. In the meantime, be sure to check out our 2022 Movie Release Schedule to start planning your next trip to the theater.