It feels like forever since I did one of these shot by shot trailer breakdowns but with the release of a teaser trailer for Pixar’s upcoming film Lightyear– a spinoff of the Toy Story series- I knew I had to make a comeback. Toy Story is a film series that means a lot to me personally, as well as to millions of other people around the world. The first film was the very first movie I ever saw in a cinema (I don’t actually remember it though as I was only three years old) and I remember playing the second film on VHS over and over again to the point where I had tons of the lines from the movie memorised and the tape itself worn down. The third film came out when I was 18 years old and about to start university, being in a similar situation to Andy and having to say goodbye to parts of my childhood. I remember seeing it in the cinema twice and bawling both times. The fourth movie wasn’t quite so monumental for me personally but I still went to see it and cried at both the beginning and the ending scenes. So of course, with the announcement of a Pixar movie spin off focusing on the actual person in the Toy Story universe who inspired the Buzz Lightyear toy, I knew I would be hyped for it. With the teaser trailer dropping today I can confirm that the hype is real, so let’s get on with the trailer breakdown!
All Images Courtesy of Disney/Pixar
A Galaxy Far, Far Away
The trailer opens on this beautifully animated shot of Star Command, the mission command centre that Buzz Lightyear- the toy that is- often references in the original films. Star Command seems to be similar to the Houston Space Centre in the Toy Story world but whether it is an actual place or a fictional one within that world is left to be seen. In fact, that is one of the biggest questions that I was left with after this trailer. Is all of this based on real events and a real person that existed within the Toy Story world or is it a fictional story within that world much like Star Wars is with us? It gets even more confusing when you start to consider the Meta nature of it all. What is certain is that this animation is absolutely gorgeous and brilliantly atmospheric, perfectly setting the sci-fi scene.
Lightyear. Buzz Lightyear.
The following shot of Buzz gearing up shows his dog tag with his name and blood type. He also has a shirt that says “Property of Star Command.” I feel like not enough people were ever curious about Buzz’s blood type but its O positive.
We also see Buzz from the back and get a glimpse at his classic purple over the head thing that he wears that I definitely did not think was his hair when I was a kid. Because that would be super weird, right?
Another gorgeous shot that really emphasises the sci-fi vibe is shown next. It is difficult not to see the similarities between Buzz’s ship- that we get to see better on further on in the trailer- and the rebel forces X-Wings from the Star Wars series. This whole shot looks like it was ripped from Star Wars, but in more of an homage kind of way rather than a knock off.
Crystal Blue Persuasion
An ominous and important looking blue crystal gets put into Buzz’s ship, which is another element that leaves more questions than answers. Is this crystal going to have significance in the film? It feels like it will, why else would there be a shot of it? It could also link into the idea of time travel that the film may well be leaning towards if any of the clues in this teaser come to fruition.
This theory of time travel is emphasised by the next shot that we see in the trailer, relating to the “slingshot effect”. This theory is mostly fictional- well known for its use in Star Trek– but there is something behind the “slingshot” model in relation to the idea that being caught in an incredibly strong gravitation pull could hypothetically alter time and space around you. The mass of the Sun could potentially do this if the person in question was travelling at warp drive level speeds. The trouble with that is that we haven’t actually invented that yet so the theory remains a work of fiction. The trailer suggests that this “slingshot” method is being used, so this is likely a futuristic world where this is indeed possible. Again, this leads to questions as to whether this is a real person within this world or whether it is a fictional character. If he was real- and had a line of toys dedicated to him- surely that means he exists in the past from when Toy Story began? But there was never any suggestions in the Toy Story series that this was an ultra-futuristic world with technology of that calibre. Let’s just throw some time travel into the mix to make things all the more confusing.
To The Stars
The design of Buzz’s ship is pretty damn awesome. In the first movie, the box that toy Buzz comes in is meant to replicate his space ship and Pixar have cleverly incorporated the look of the box ship into this more realistic design. It is a nice call back to the original movie as well as a reminder that whoever Buzz Lightyear was in the Toy Story universe, he was important enough to warrant having his ship recreated to house his action figure.
A quick interior shot of Star Command is shown as Buzz embarks on his journey, whatever it may be (though I’m still pretty sure it is time travel related.) This movie does remind me a little bit of the Buzz Lightyear of Star Command animated Disney show that was around in the late 90’s which focuses on Star Command as a peacekeeping organization with space rangers who try to maintain said peace throughout the galaxy. Perhaps Star Command will take on this role in the film or maybe they will be more of a central hub for their rangers, similar to Houston for NASA as I said above.
We get a proper look at Buzz in the next shot as he prepares to embark on his space voyage. I really like the design and animation style of this film from what we have seen so far. The animation is breath-taking – just look at the reflection on his helmet!-but the character design fits really well too. You can definitely see that this is a human version of Buzz, with a more realistic look even with that massive dimpled chin. The character designs are still very much Pixar, with stylised characters that would only work in an animated movie. Buzz is voiced by a different actor this time around, with Chris Evans (known widely for his role as Captain America/ Steve Rogers in the Marvel movies) taking over the role from Tim Allen. This is a move that makes sense as Tim Allen is not the big name that he was when he was in the first Toy Story. This is also an alternate take on the character, so taking a different route vocally isn’t too jarring. His toy version may well have had a different voice from the man himself or the character anyway (which is it??). Chris Evans is also hot stuff in terms of popularity so it’s a win- win for Disney and Pixar.
Not much else to see here apart from Buzz’s ship taking off but I am so in love with this that I just had to post this shot. Look at it!! This is next level animation!!!!
The same goes for this shot, which is a look at Buzz’s ship as he breaches the atmosphere and is propelled into space. Look at those visuals. You’d be forgiven if you thought this was a genuine shot from a satellite. Pixar have truly outdone themselves with the animation here.
Deep and Brooding
As we see Buzz’s ship attempting that “slingshot” manoeuvre around the Sun, there is a cut to a broody Buzz looking out at the command centre as what looks like a cat (who we see again later) approaches from behind. The best part about this moment is the choice of song: “Starman” by David Bowie. It’s a classic song as it is but it also suits the character of Buzz- both his human self and his toy self- down to the ground. Side note: I love that they got that little chin dimple just right on him. Even if it does make him look a little like the creepy neighbour from the Hello Neighbour video game.
There are a couple more space shots as well as a scene with Buzz crouching behind a rock with a robot companion. This furthers the idea that the film will be taking elements of the animated television show by making the space rangers a group of eclectic aliens and species from across the galaxy. The next shot was particularly striking though as once again, it gives off major Star Wars vibes. It looks exactly like the swamp planet from The Empire Strikes Back where Luke is trained by Yoda. Even the spaceship looks like the X-Wing that Luke lifts out of the swamp with his force powers. It’s all the same company now though- with Disney owning both Pixar and Star Wars- so I guess it makes sense.
A weird cat like robot thing freaks Buzz out in the next shot, reflecting the scene in the first movie where Buzz goes all kung-fu master when Woody sneaks up on him in their first meeting. It’s a nice throwback and it shows how Buzz- the toy- clearly has a lot of Buzz- the human- within him. I mean, he did think he was the real Buzz Lightyear during the entire first movie didn’t he?
Space Time Continuum
Back to that idea of time travel, a robot friend seems to be trying to explain it to Buzz and a fellow ranger in the next shot. We see the explanation of the “slingshot” effect on the whiteboard as well as the time differences that Buzz will experience, with one minute to him being a whole year to the rest of the Star Command crew. If Buzz ends up being an actual person in the Toy Story world, this could make for a very interesting dynamic. Perhaps he was a hero considered to be lost in a ground-breaking mission but in reality, he travelled through time and space and has only been gone an hour which has translated to sixty years. The narrative possibilities are very interesting, but there is certainly a sense that Marvel has inspired some of these potential plot points. Much like with Star Wars, Disney owns Marvel too so it isn’t that surprising. I just hope that Lightyear feels like its own thing rather than an animated amalgamation of Disney franchises.
Aliens are shown to clearly be very much a thing in this world when Buzz gets wrapped up in tentacles and dragged to the ground before his companion- the same lady ranger from earlier- slices it off of him. Again, this creates some interesting questions if this is based on a real person in the Pixar/ Toy Story world. Do aliens exist in this world? Is it general, common knowledge that they do? I kind of hope that this is a real person in the Toy Story universe as it opens up a lot of fascinating possibilities, even if it makes more sense for him to be a fictional character.
His Name is Mr Meowmers and I Love Him
Okay, I don’t know what this robot cats name actually is but I want it to be Mr Meowmers and I adore him eternally. The cat seems to be doing something on board a spaceship and I sincerely hope it isn’t sabotage. That being said, I think I would kind of love it if the cat the was the real villain of the movie?
A shot of Buzz stealthing his way through what looks like a space station of some kind is seen next. The change in atmosphere here is highly reminiscent of a big budget sci-fi flick, which is the vibe that most of this trailer offers. It’s rare to see that in animation and of course Pixar- one of the most renowned animation studios in the world- would be the ones to do it so smoothly.
Anyone who watched Toy Story 2 as much as I did as a kid will recognise these yellow robots from the opening scene of Buzz infiltrating the lair of the Evil Emperor Zurg. Hopefully that means that the big bad himself will make an appearance. His role was already joked about in the second film, with him being the Darth Vader to Buzz’s Luke Skywalker but maybe he will become a little more fleshed out and have a character that is more than just a running joke/reference.
The Money Shot
We see some ominous doors opening with red smoke emerging- ala Star Wars again- followed by this awesome shot of Buzz’s space ranger suit that we all know from the Toy Story movies. The transition from a toy outfit to a real space suit works fantastically. It still maintains the elements that we know- such as the green and purple colour scheme, the red, blue and green buttons and that retractable helmet- but offers a more mature look and realistic look.
“To Infinity And…”
The only voice line we actually hear Chris Evans say is the word “and” as his lady ranger buddy starts with “To Infinity.” Of course, they don’t finish their sentence because you already know what it is. As well as referencing that timeless catchphrase, we get a full shot of Buzz in his space ranger suit. Both he and his friend- who is also donning the green, white and purple suit- look pretty awesome, perfectly bringing the well-known outfit to life and giving it a more lifelike look whilst not losing the essence of the character that the world knows and loves.
What really struck me about this trailer is how much it feels like a live action film rather than an animation, let alone a spinoff to one of the most beloved animated series’ of all time. The cinematography, the choice of music, the settings and atmosphere, it all gives off the vibe of something you would find when watching a trailer for the next Star Wars film. Pixar have certainly outdone themselves animation wise here too, truly evoking the science fiction film genre in every little detail. Lightyear could be an interesting spin off from Pixar’s most popular series but it may well be a brilliant film in its own right too, possibly even elevating the science fiction genre within the medium of animation in a way that hasn’t been done before. I definitely have my fingers crossed for this one in the hope that it will take its audiences to infinity and beyond. See what I did there? I’ll show myself out.