Lovers Loop

Palm Springs is not your typical time loop. 2020 was a year where most people sat around doing nothing almost everyday. So Palm Springs came out at just the right time. Since time loop movies are practically their own genre, the formula needed shaking up. Palm Springs is about more than one person experiencing the loop and it actually begins with the main character already in the middle of it. The latter was one of the original concepts for Groundhog Day, but that wouldn’t have worked.

Though it is a comedy, this was the most mature performance I’ve seen from SNL alumni Andy Samberg. Nyles is a slacker who eventually figured life was meaningless and learned to accept the loop. I wasn’t a fan of the movie’s overly nihilistic tone that Nyles’ name not so subtly indicates. Plus the excessive language and occasional gross moments that the 2020’s keep pushing. Though Cristin Milioti does make an impression as Nyles unwitting companion in the loop. Sarah and Nyles meet at the Palm Springs wedding for Superman and Veronica.

Camila Mendes and Tyler Hoechlin both took a break from the CW to play the couple. Sarah is also a mess, but together her and Nyles do whatever they want without consequences. The only minor inconvenience is another trapped looper played by J.K. Simmons who wants Nyles dead. The mysterious source of the loop is the reason for more than one person being effected. Nyles and Sarah finding meaning in each other is probably the only thing that endears Palm Springs among the ever-growing list of time loop movies.

Palm Springs

Nyles and Sarah do nothing

My Extraordinary Ordinary Life

About Time is the feel good time travel movie of the 21st century. It’s about time I watched the movie. I’ve been curious to see About Time ever since I stumbled upon the trailer back in 2013. About Time is about one man’s journey to find happiness in his ordinary life. Third time director Richard Curtis is known for sentimental British romance. Domhnall Gleeson is a fitting romantic lead who plays the nervous Tim Lake. Tim has a perfectly loving family that includes his caring father James, mother Mary, confused Uncle Desmond, and fairy-like sister Kit Kat. Bill Nighy plays Tim’s father who very casually tells him all the men in their family can travel back in time.

Unlike most time travel movies, Tim can only go backwards in his own life by clenching his fists in a dark room. Unlike most romantic movies, About Time is refreshingly simple with very little conflict and no forced break ups. Tim just wants to get a girlfriend. So he improves his life similar to a time loop movie if it took place on more than one day. This is technically the earliest I’ve seen Margot Robbie as the first girl Tim fails to romance no matter how many chances he gets. This was also the earliest I’ve seen Vanessa Kirby. Tim eventually uses his power to help people like his jaded playwright flatmate played by Tom Hollander. His play sadly features Richard Griffiths in his final role.

Tim eventually falls for Mary played by the lovely American Rachel McAdams. Every attempt to woo Mary feels earned since they initially felt a connection without the use of time travel. Their relationship is genuine and heartfelt. About Time is honestly one of my new favorite genre-bending movies. Characters are hilarious beginning to end, the soundtrack is smashing, and I was so moved that I ended up crying. The only conflict is Tim realizing time travel can’t fix everything in his life. So he eventually learns from his dad that the key to happiness is appreciating life. About Time is a criminally underrated unconventional love story.

About Time

Tim and Mary as newlyweds

Adam & uวpฦŽ

Upside Down is a romance that defies gravity itself. Have you ever seen a trailer to something you never heard of, but knew you had to watch one day? That’s how I felt about Upside Down when I first discovered it. The French Romeo & Juliet style romance with a sci-fi twist is between people from two different worlds… literally! Upside Down takes place on twin planets that are directly above and below one another. Gravity is different on each world and contact is strictly forbidden.

Adam lives in the lower class Down and Eden lives in the upper class Up. Their names are just as on the nose as the movie’s metaphors. Jim Sturgess and Kirsten Dunst have good chemistry as the doomed couple who figure out clever ways to meet in the middle. Dunst is obviously no stranger to upside down kisses. The color palette is a very stylised dark blue with occasional lense flares. The special effects will mess with your head if you don’t get used to them, but they are impressive whenever you see both worlds interact.

Trans-World is a company that employes important people from both worlds. Adam develops a gravity defying anti-aging cream and befriends an American Timothy Spall from Up. Since Eden developed amnesia after their last rendezvous, Adam figures out how to stay Up using inverse matter. All the scientific talk can get confusing if you’re not paying attention. The basic story has been told a million times, but I have to admire Upside Down for taking such a unique storytelling risk.

Upside Down

Adam and Eden kiss upside down

Time is Money

In Time takes the expression “time is money” literally. This is a future where time has become currency, payment is given or accepted from a person’s arm clock, everyone has 1 year to live after they turn 25, the poor live minute by minute, and the rich are practically immortal. In Time is similar to Logan’s Run for having a youthful society. Director Andrew Niccol openly admitted similarities to Gattaca. Both movies have retrofuturistic cars, an unlikely romance, and a protagonist who evades arrest in an effort to disrupt the established order. In Time sounded interesting when I first saw the trailer, but I lost interest after the less than stellar reception.

Justin Timberlake can act, but when he’s not expected to sing, it can be hard to take him seriously as an action star. He plays struggling factory worker Will Salas who lives in the ghetto with his mother. Seeing the very attractive Olivia Wilde as his mother can be a bit jarring the first time. Time Zones separate poor neighborhoods like Dayton from wealthy neighborhoods like New Greenwich. Minutemen are literal time burglars who steal time from the less fortunate. Timekeepers are a police force that operate day to day. Matt Bomer plays the century old Henry Hamilton who willingly gives Will all his time.

Which is what leads Cillian Murphy as an obsessive Timekeeper to hunt him down. Will enjoys his wealth, but it doesn’t last long. He ends up kidnapping the daughter of a wealthy elite with too much time on his hands played by Vincent Kartheiser. Amanda Seyfried is cute as a redhead, but I feel like she’s only around to be eye candy. Sylvia willingly joins Will on a Bonnie & Clyde style crusade to fight the system. Maybe it’s the cheesy dialogue or constant time puns, but In Time doesn’t quite land the way Gattaca did. Nevertheless, In Time was still worth my time for its creative depiction of the future.

In Time

Will and Sylvia go on the run

Genetic Perfection

Gattaca is one of the most realistic depictions of the not too distant future. This is a future where genetic perfection is the most important thing in society. Scientifically engineered “valids” are artificially conceived through eugenics and genetically imperfect “in-valids” are naturally conceived. In his directorial debut, Andrew Niccol created a less than science fiction future that’s almost indistinguishable from our own. I first watched Gattaca in my high school science class, but I had a hard time following the complex premise. It didn’t surprise me to learn it wasn’t a financial success.

Genetic discrimination doesn’t sound exciting, but the older I got, the more fascinating Gattaca became. Ethan Hawke plays the “in-valid” Vincent who has a low life expectancy, but a dream worth rooting for. In order to go to space, Vincent must assume the identity of “valid” wheelchair bound swimmer Jerome. Jude Law makes a strong impression without the use of his legs. Vincent goes to extreme measures using DNA samples from Jerome just to join the Gattaca space program. A murder mystery makes the possibility of Vincent getting caught surprisingly suspenseful.

The impressive cast includes Tony Shalhoub, writer Gore Vidal, Ernest Borgnine, and a very early role for Maya Rudolph. Alan Arkin and Loren Dean play detectives using genetic testing to find the “in-valid” imposter. Vincent is only found out by his younger “valid” brother Anton and his attractive “valid” co-worker Irene. Ethan Hawke and Uma Thurman have great chemistry because they actually fell in love on set. Their steamy romance is kept strictly PG-13. Although it feels open ended at times, Gattaca is a smartly written thriller with an inspirational message to defy expectations.

Gattaca

Vincent (aka Jerome) and Irene look up

Welcome to the 23rd Century

Logan’s Run was the most ambitious science fiction film made at the time. Bare in mind this was 1 year before Star Wars dominated the big screen. So their depiction of a futuristic society is a bit more cheesy with a space age soundtrack from Jerry Goldsmith, colorful costumes, and clean sets made from repurposed shopping malls. Logan’s Run is very 70’s, but it was loosely based on a 1967 novel by William F. Nolan and George Clayton Johnson. The movie had a long production run and many changes were made to the book. Logan’s Run is a classic dystopian tale about what seems like a utopian world. In the 23rd Century, a hedonistic society of people live under a dome, but die young at the age of 30.

Everyone has a crystal on their palm indicating how much time they have and a “Carrousel” ceremony tricks people into thinking their life will be renewed. It’s complicated, but the idea of overpopulation and blissful ignorance leaves an undeniable impact. Logan’s Run also made use of levitation, holograms, and wide-angle lenses in a miniature city that earned the movie a Special Achievement Oscar. The cast is small, but Michael York is a suitable conformist turned rebel. Logan 5 is a “Sandman” who terminates people who run from their fate. Jenny Agutter plays a beautiful runner capable of changing his ideology. Logan 5 and Jessica 6 go on the run throughout the city and into an unfamiliar world.

Similar to Planet of the Apes, the real world is overgrown with Peter Ustinov as the last surviving old man. Meanwhile, Richard Jordan tirelessly hunts down the runners as Logan’s former partner Francis 7. Roscoe Lee Browne voices a very unexpected evil robot named Box and rising star Farrah Fawcett gets top-billing as facial stylist Holly 13. Despite the sexual themes, Logan’s Run somehow got away with a PG rating. Despite the fact that all women have sexy revealing outfits and are seen casually naked several times. There’s something to be said about the Free Love mentality, but Logan’s Run can be interpreted many ways. Though there was a short-lived TV series and Marvel comics, I’m surprised a sequel or remake never materialized. Logan’s Run is a product of its time that inspired more than it’s given credit for.

Logan's Run

Logan 5 and Jessica 6

It’s Nice to Have a Friend

M3GAN is the perfect combination of evil robot, killer doll, and creepy kid. All things I enjoy in a horror and/or sci-fi movie. Which is why I chose to review it on my 6 year anniversary. M3GAN brings together 2 of the biggest names in modern horror, James Wan and Jason Blum. Making it a Blumhouse Production with a James Wan story unlike the more supernatural Annabelle. I knew I needed to see M3GAN the moment she started dancing in a trailer set to Taylor Swift. I had to share M3GAN with everyone including my equally entertained mom who ended up seeing it with my brother and I. It became an instant obsession of mine and an instant TikTok meme long before the movie came out. M3GAN is more serious than it looks, but it’s also campy when it needs to be with the right balance of horror and comedy. Allison Williams returns to horror as successful roboticist Gemma.

Gemma works for a toy company that develops technologically advanced pets. That part is left out of most trailers along with an important business angle that includes Ronny Chieng as Gemma’s boss who wants to sell her latest product. Model 3 Generative Android, or M3GAN, is meant to be a companion so lifelike that she essentially replaces a parent. There’s clever commentary about the dangers of letting technology raise your kids. In her short career, child actress Violet McGraw also made a name for herself in horror. After losing her parents, Cady lives with her Aunt Gemma who doesn’t know how to connect with her. So she gives all the responsibility to M3GAN. People will compare her to Chucky, but M3GAN has a style all her own. She’s an instant icon with a classic beige dress, blue ribbon, sandy blonde hair, an uncanny rubber face, and creepy baby doll eyes that are always watching. More similar to the 2019 Chucky is M3GAN’s ability to tap into the internet.

M3GAN was brought to life through impressive prosthetic makeup, the robotic movements of child dancer Amie Donald, and the childlike voice of YouTuber Jenna Davis. Once paired with Cady, M3GAN makes it her primary directive to entertain, nurture, and protect her. M3GAN has the best sarcasm, plenty of witty one-liners, and she sings too! I like that there’s no specific reason for her to do the infamous hallway dance. You’d think it would be hard to take her seriously, but M3GAN grows more threatening and animalistic when the occasion calls for it. Despite the PG-13 rating, M3GAN ruthlessly kills several people who either mistreat Cady or attempt to shut her down. Cady grows so attached to M3GAN that you question whether or not she’ll become just as bad. The climax is basically a more high tech version of the original Child’s Play, but there’s enough originality to sell the product. M3GAN is insane, right?

M3GAN

M3GAN reads Alice in Wonderland to Cady

Followed by: M3GAN 2.0

They’re the Clades

Strange World may be the worst Walt Disney Animation Studios movie I’ve ever seen. I usually don’t care about CinemaScore, but it’s worth noting that Strange World has the lowest rating of any Disney movie since 1991. Even lower than Home on the Range or Chicken Little. I know there are several objectively worse Disney movies, but at least I can still feel nostalgia when I watch them. Strange World is too modern for its own good. Which is why it bombed hard with a pathetic $54.1 million dollar box-office gross against a budget of $135-180 million. Thanksgiving is usually a good release schedule for Disney, but Strange World was almost completely overlooked by audiences. As I said in my Lightyear review, Disney sure does love losing money with the direction they’ve been taking.

Encanto wasn’t a financial success either, but the studio can’t keep blaming the Pandemic for their failure. This time you can’t deny that diversity and LGBT characters were more important than good storytelling. Of course Disney’s sixty-first animated film was banned like everything else they pushed in the last decade. Strange World is the brainchild of longtime Disney filmmaker Don Hall. He was inspired by pulp magazines and adventure movies like Journey to the Center of the Earth, Fantastic Voyage, and King Kong. The teaser was made to look like a classic 50’s trailer, and that was the extent of Disney’s creativity. I’ll always know when a new Disney movie comes out, but I don’t blame anyone who had no clue Strange World even existed…

98. Strange World

Strange World

Strange World is basically a modern day Post-Renaissance Disney movie. Like Atlantis: The Lost Empire or Treasure Planet, Strange World is a science fiction adventure that lost a significant amount of money for the studio. Proving once again that musical fantasies and talking animal movies are more likely to be successful. Atlantis and Treasure Planet both got a much needed cult following, but Strange World doesn’t deserve it. Nor does it deserve the 100 year Disney studio banner. I had little to no interest in Strange World, but my brother and I did end up going a week after its release. Our theater was packed with children and they were dead silent the entire time. Strange World was written by Raya and the Last Dragon screenwriter Qui Nguyen, and it shows. None of the jokes are funny and the story is more boring than it has any right to be. I love a good old fashioned adventure, but Strange World is a clunky mix of old and new themes. The Clades are a family of explorers who end up lost like the Robinson family.

After Encanto and Pixar’s Turning Red, Strange World is yet another Disney movie where family trauma is more important than having a villain. There’s actually a scene in the movie where characters literally say having no villain is bad storytelling. Surprisingly, being self aware about the problem just makes it more annoying. It’s almost like Disney is too afraid to have genuinely evil characters anymore. Instead the conflict is between three generations of fathers and their sons. Jaeger Clade is a stereotypical manly man adventurer with a long handlebar mustache. Searcher Clade is his less adventurous son who cares more about botany. I completely forgot Dennis Quaid and Jake Gyllenhaal previously played father & son in The Day After Tomorrow. Quaid is almost unrecognizable, but I’d recognize Gyllenhaal’s nasal voice anywhere. Stop me if you’ve heard this one, Searcher doesn’t want to be like his father and Jaeger never listens to what he wants. On their latest expedition in the arctic, Searcher makes an important discovery, but Jaeger chooses to continue his adventure and leave his team behind.

The discovery is a bioelectric green energy based plant called Pando. Strange World takes place in a fictional mountainous land called Avalonia. 25 years later, Pando is farmed by Searcher and his family who use it to power their civilization. Farming is no more exciting in a futuristic society as it is in real life. Avalonia looks like the 50’s, but it’s filled with advanced technology like hovercrafts. Though Strange World isn’t centered around a specific culture, it does feature an interracial family. Searcher is white, his wife Meridian is black, and their teenage son Ethan is biracial. There’s also a three legged dog named Legend since disabilities need to be represented somehow. I do love seeing interracial families since I myself am biracial with a white father and black mother. Unfortunately, I have a hard time appreciating it since it was only included for diversity sake. Calling attention to them kissing several times in front of their son feels especially manipulative. Meridian is a strong-willed pilot who barely makes an impression even with Gabrielle Union as her voice. Despite all the unique names in the movie, Ethan has the least exciting name.

Disney continued to pat themselves on the back when they announced Ethan as the first openly gay character in a Disney animated movie. Openly gay comedian Jaboukie Young-White practically voiced the same kind of character in the Baymax! shorts. Ethan has a crush on another boy named Diazo and it’s so forced that it’s actually painful to watch. Trying to be awkward and relatable is cringy regardless of the character’s orientation. Ethan continues to talk about his crush throughout the movie, despite it having no relevance to the plot. You’d think it would be a source of conflict, but Ethan’s parents and the grandfather he never met are all unquestionably supportive of him. Instead, Searcher is afraid Ethan’s adventurous spirit will turn him into his father. The chance for adventure comes along when the President of Avalonia arrives with a special mission. Callisto Mal is yet another generic strong female character for Disney voiced by Lucy Liu. She’s an old friend of Searcher who leads an expedition to find the reason why Pando is dying out.

Naming their airship Venture is a not so subtle reference to King Kong. The crew includes Dopinder himself Karan Soni as a significantly less funny nerdy crewmember and a bunch of other unimportant redshirts. Since the cast isn’t limited to one ethnicity, Alan Tudyk voices an actual character. Duffle pilots the Venture and gets immediately killed just like Wash from Firefly. Ethan is a stowaway on the airship that Meridian ends up piloting. They end up journeying to the center of Avalonia in the titular Strange World. The red and magenta landscape is not as exciting as Journey to the Center of the Earth. Everything seems random from moving cliffs to red dragon-like creatures. Searcher and Legend end up seperated, while Ethan does some exploring on his own. They run into giant carnivorous creatures called Reapers, but Searcher is rescued by his father Jaeger who somehow survived over 25 years stuck in the Strange World. He uses a flamethrower on the Reapers and leads his son across acidic oceans in the hope of finding the airship to escape.

Meanwhile, Ethan runs into an amoeba-like creature that he names Splat. As silent Disney sidekicks go, Splat is no Magic Carpet. Splat initially leads Ethan to the Reapers, but he changes his mind after he shows him kindness. All three generations are united when the women come to their rescue. Jaeger gets along with his grandson, but Searcher continues to hold back. They end up playing Ethan’s favorite card game Primal Outpost which spells out the moral of the movie. Since Strange World has a not so subtle environmental message, almost all the heroes end up looking bad. Searcher and Jaeger eventually see eye to eye when they use Pando to attack the creatures. Ethan starts to have second thoughts and he ends up making an unexpected discovery with his dad. SPOILER ALERT! The twist is kind of obvious when you notice how much Strange World resembles the inside of a body. Hence the Fantastic Voyage inspiration.

Splat and the rest of the creatures are basically antibodies and Pando is a virus attached to the heart. Jaeger leaves once again and Callisto has the Clades locked up, but they still aren’t the villains. When they escape, the Pando is destroyed and they’re forced to live in a world without the energy source. In the end, all three generations grow closer inside and beneath Avalonia which is actually a giant World Turtle. Strange World is somewhat reminiscent of pulp magazines, but the comic book aesthetic is only around in the beginning and end. I might’ve liked the movie a lot more if they stuck with the much more unique 2D pulp animation accompanied by the catchy “They’re the Clades” adventure tune. Instead Strange World looks like every other round glossy computer animated Disney movie from the last decade. Character animation, clothing, and locations are technically well rendered, but nothing impressive. Strange World is a serious wake-up call that Disney hopefully learns from.

97. Strange World

The Clade family explore the center of the world

To Infinity and Beyond!

Lightyear is Pixar’s most desperate attempt to profit off the success of their most beloved franchise. Buzz Lightyear has been a fan favorite ever since his introduction in Toy Story. Every appearance has brought something new and entertaining to the Space Ranger. A feature-length spin-off is the last thing Lightyear needed. Mostly because an origin story was already done a lot better 22 years ago in the traditionally animated direct-to-video movie Buzz Lightyear of Star Command: The Adventure Begins. Even the animated series was a better interpretation of the character. Heck, the 3 minute video game opening in Toy Story 2 is more epic than anything in Lightyear. Lightyear asks the question, what was the movie that made Andy want a Buzz Lightyear action figure?

The idea came from Pixar animator Angus MacLane. Though he directed the computer animated portion of Buzz Lightyear of Star Command, MacLane envisioned a sci-fi adventure inspired by the films of his childhood. So despite being part of a long-running franchise, Lightyear is technically another passion project for Pixar. Considering my disappointment with Toy Story 4, I wasn’t sure how to feel about a solo Buzz Lightyear movie 3 years later. After dumping Soul, Luca, and Turning Red on Disney+, it was encouraging when Lightyear became the first theatrical Pixar film since Onward. Then I grew worried with every character change or modern update. For one reason or another, Lightyear bombed at the box-office. Proving just how out of touch Disney has become…

52. Lightyear

Buzz Lightyear narrates in front of Alisha Hawthorne

Lightyear doesn’t come with a short despite its theatrical release. Every Pixar movie should be seen on the big screen, so I’m glad they finally realized that. Lightyear is one of my least favorite Pixar films, but the state of the art computer animation is more lifelike than ever. The best comparison would be an even more advanced version of WALLยทE. Director Angus MacLane wanted the animation to be “cinematic” and “chunky” like Star Wars. Which is why landscapes, clothing, and vehicles are more realistic looking. Turns out MacLane used LEGO builds instead of traditional concept art. There were actual LEGO sets later on, but I still think it’s a cool idea. Character designs are mostly stylized, but made to look a lot more human than anything in Toy Story. Compared to the toy he’s based on, Buzz Lightyear maintains his general head shape and large chin, but it’s obvious they’re going for a live-action feel. I’m not sure why they didn’t just make a live-action movie. There comes a point when something is so realistic that it defeats the purpose of animation.

Lack of imagination and fun are big reasons why Lightyear failed. People tried to blame the Pandemic or at-home convenience, but I laughed all the way to the bank when Minions: The Rise of Gru grossed significantly higher without even trying. What should’ve been a fun space romp ended up being generic and boring. An audience full of children barely reacted to Lightyear. I’ve loved Buzz Lightyear since I was a kid, but there’s no way someone as young as Andy would claim this as their favorite movie. According to an on-screen text, Lightyear is meant to be a movie within a movie released in 1995. We’re seriously expected to believe a clearly 2022 movie actually came out in the 90’s. Despite centering around Buzz, Lightyear pushes diversity just like every other Disney and/or Pixar project. The movie lost a significant amount of its foreign audience with another easily edited same-sex kiss. The scene was cut out originally, but former Disney CEO Bob Chapek used it as an act of defiance. I won’t get too specific, but I will say Disney seems to love losing money with their “progressive” content.

The most obvious misstep was recasting Tim Allen with Chris Evans. Tim Allen will always be Buzz Lightyear no matter what anyone thinks of him. Disney claims the decision wasn’t politically motivated, but even his good friend Tom Hanks agrees they should’ve cast him. Buzz was always a good source of comedy, but Allen could still be serious when he needed to be. Chris Evans is a great Captain America, but he is not Buzz Lightyear! The only similarity is a grand sense of heroism that works a lot better with a toy who thinks he’s a Space Ranger. Aside from using “Starman” in the trailer’s, Michael Giacchino replaces Randy Newman for a more adventurous soundtrack. Lightyear’s trademark space suit has the same color scheme, but it’s a clunky prototype suit with several missing features. Space Rangers are issued laser swords, blasters, cloaking technology, and an inflatable escape button. This version of Buzz also shows off the hair underneath his purple cowl, and it’s just as distracting as hearing Evans voice. The movie begins with Buzz as a young Space Ranger who serves Star Command alongside his partner Alisha Hawthorne.

Most of the cast is respectable, but it’s clear a lot of them were chosen for the sake of diversity. Which is probably why the African American Uzo Aduba voices Lightyear’s best friend and commanding officer. Even his iconic catchphrase “To infinity and beyond” is something Lightyear and Hawthorne say together. They explore a planet called T’Kani Prime on a Star Command vessel that Buzz refers to as “the Turnip.” Any attempt at humor feels forced, but several moments lean heavily into dialogue from the Toy Story movies. I can’t say no to nostalgia, but it only highlights the movie’s flaws. Lightyear turns away a rookie named Featheringhamstan that ends up caught in the planet’s deadly vines. Hawthorne saves them both and Buzz attempts to steer the Turnip away from danger. Lightyear does have a villain, but Buzz ends up looking bad when he causes the ship to be marooned on T’Kani Prime. Get used to it, because we’re stuck on this one generic looking planet the entire movie. Though he takes responsibility for his actions, Alisha gives him the mission to fix their hyperspace capabilities.

1 year later, Star Command crew have colonized the planet and Buzz is a test pilot ready to fly into space with the fuel crystal needed to achieve hyperspace. Pedro himself Efren Ramirez briefly voices another friend of Buzz who sees him off. The slingshot maneuver is explained, but I’m not sure how well kids will follow it. After a failed first flight, Lightyear returns 4 years in the future after his 4 minute flight. Time dilation has been done several times before, but it’s the driving force of the movie. Buzz discovers Alisha is engaged and casually asks who the lucky lady is. As Buzz continues to test the hyper crystal, Alisha grows old with her wife Kiko. The split second kiss is barely in this supposed 1995 movie. In order to cope with the loss, Buzz is issued a robot therapy cat named Sox voiced by The Good Dinosaur director Peter Sohn. I know everybody loves Sox and he is a scene stealer. In fact, I’m pretty sure Andy would rather have a Sox toy after seeing the movie, but to me it’s the same old cat jokes with a robot twist. Sox attempts to figure out the hyper crystal problem during Lightyear’s next few flights.

The intended tear worthy moment is Buzz returning to a vacant office where the now deceased Alisha leaves him a final message. Isiah Whitlock Jr. voices her replacement Commander Burnside who confirms the termination of the Space Ranger program and their journey home. So Buzz hijacks a ship with Sox in order to test the stabilized hyper crystal. The successful hyperspace launch pays homage to 2001: A Space Odyssey, but it also lands Buzz 22 years into the future. Since it was a big year for her, Keke Palmer voices Alisha’s grown up granddaughter Izzy Hawthorne. She pretty much picks up where her grandmother left off in terms of personality. The only difference is Izzy wanting to become a Space Ranger despite her fear of space. Izzy saves Buzz from Zyclops robots that can only say “Zurg.” I knew Zurg would be the main villain, but they make way too many changes to the Evil Emperor who isn’t even an emperor. Aside from his helmet and booster gun, Zurg appears to be a massive purple robot with legs and no cape. Zurg barely resemble the toy we saw in Toy Story 2.

His robot minions attempt to penetrate the laser shield protecting Star Command. So Izzy and Buzz devise a plan to destroy the ship that controls the robots. They enlist a rag tag group of Junior Cadet rookies who haven’t seen combat. Orange is the New Black star Dale Soules voices short hispanic elderly convict Darby Steel and the overexposed Taika Waititi voices himself voicing frantic deserter Mo Morrison. Lightyear is an animated movie with limitless possibilities, yet this was the best they could come up with?! A wannabe Space Ranger, an old lady who’s good with bombs, a guy obsessed with pens, and a robot cat are seriously the extent of Pixar’s imagination. There’s also another robot named DERIC that gets left behind and an AI named I.V.A.N. that Buzz doesn’t like. Buzz Lightyear of Star Command had alien Princess Mira Nova, giant frog alien Booster, and repurposed robot XR. All of them have significantly more personality than these losers. Izzy’s crew stumble through a Zyclops attack and attempt to find another Armadillo ship when there’s is destroyed. It’s in a ship hangar that Buzz suits up in his old Space Ranger uniform.

Unfortunately, his new crew is also given different colored Space Ranger suits that end up causing an alien bug attack. They also end up at an outpost where they’re trapped in red capture cones. When they escape, they get some downtime eating sandwiches. I’ll admit the meat sandwich with bread in the middle is about the only clever joke in the movie. Buzz ends up with a wrist mounted laser weapon that he uses against an attacking Zurg. All is revealed when Zurg captures Buzz and takes him to his ship. SPOILER ALERT! Though he looks like his father, James Brolin actually voices a much older Buzz who ended up in an alternate timeline. I’m pretty sure they only cast Brolin, because Evans previously fought his son. Having no villain is one thing, but an evil Buzz is just a lazy attempt to shock the audience. The only reason he’s called Zurg, is because the robots can’t say the word “Buzz.”

Zurg-Buzz wants the hyper crystal to travel back in time and become a hero again after he was rejected. Buzz-Prime nearly agrees, but he changes his mind when he realizes it’s better to accept the life they have. When Zurg turns against himself, future Sox gives him time to escape with the hyper crystal. The climax is an internal conflict between Buzz and his future self. Everyone gets something to do. Sox uses concealed tools, Izzy conquers her fear with a perilous spacewalk, Darby builds a makeshift bomb, and Mo finally uses his useless pen. Buzz commandeers a ship with the hyper crystal and Zurg follows with a rocket pack. I didn’t realize it at the time, but my brother pointed out the fact that Buzz doesn’t fly in any of the trailers. Turns out they were saving that moment for when the ship gives him a pair of wings that he uses to stop Zurg and keep his crew from crashing.

It was a cool moment at the time, but flying is such a big part of the character that they didn’t use till the last minute. Though furious, Burnside reinstates the Space Ranger program and the authentic Space Ranger suits are also not seen until the last second. Which means Andy wanted a toy that was barely featured in the movie. Buzz and his crew head to the Gamma Quadrant of Sector 4 and the very last post-credits scene reveals Zurg to still be alive. Though the director wanted a trilogy, there’s no way that’ll happen now. The Toy Story franchise has grossed over a billion dollars at the box-office with Rotten Tomatoes scores as high as 100%. Yet it was all ruined when Lightyear ended up with a 75% and a pathetic $226 gross against a $200 budget. Lightyear is nowhere close to infinity and beyond.

53. Lightyear

Buzz Lightyear vs. Zurg

Spin-Off of: Toy Story

The Microverse

Fantastic Voyage pushed the concept of miniaturization further than anyone thought possible. By shrinking a crew of people down to microscopic size and inserting them inside the human body. If that plot sounds familiar, it’s because dozens of cartoons are practically required to make a Fantastic Voyage episode. I can’t tell you how many parodies I’ve seen before watching the original 1966 movie. I always assumed Fantastic Voyage was a Jules Verne story, but it’s actually 100% original aside from inspiration from The Incredible Shrinking Man. Though the novelization was written by sci-fi legend Isaac Asimov before the movie’s release. Richard Fleischer was the perfect director who already had submarine experience with 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea.

A nifty miniaturized sub called the Proteus is manned by a crew for the U.S. Government. Their mission is to save the life of scientist Dr. Jan Benes who perfected shrinking technology. A failed assassination by the Soviet Union gives Benes a lethal blood clot that can only be removed by a precision laser within the body. The crew consists of a more heroic Stephen Boyd as CIA agent Grant, Raquel Welch as sexy technical assistant Peterson, William Redfield as ship pilot Captain Owens, Arthur Kennedy as suspected laser surgeon Dr. Duval, and Donald Pleasence as the much more untrustworthy medical officer Dr. Michaels.

Meanwhile, Edmond O’Brien and Arthur O’Connell play Military officers who help on the outside. The crew travel from the heart to the lungs avoiding antibodies and white blood cells along the way. The 1 hour time limit is stressful, but the most tense moment is in the ear canal where even the smallest sound can send a shockwave. Any interpretation of the movie has a different exit strategy, but the original goes for the eye. Fantastic Voyage can be a little dated with it’s colorful recreation of the human body, but it still looks really impressive for 1966. Enough to win an Academy Award for Best Visual Effects and Best Art Direction – Color. A sequel or remake might have improved its special effects, but Fantastic Voyage doesn’t need a franchise to be fantastic.

Fantastic Voyage

The Proteus crew swim around Benes’ body