Buzz Lightyear:Not today Zurg!
Beware: Spoilers may follow.
In the first two Toy Story movies, Buzz Lightyear always alluded to his own universe in thinking that he was an actual space ranger. I as well as presumably many other people wanted to see what that was like. Everything he described seemed very intriguing such as flying through space, fighting the evil Emperor Zurg, fighting aliens etc. seemed like something worthy of an engaging spin-off. Buzz Lightyear of Star Command: The Adventure Begins was the pilot movie in kickstarting that spin-off. And as far as it goes it hits the perfect vibes as if it were a Saturday morning cartoon.
The story is that Buzz Lightyear is a member of the Galactic Alliance fighting the evil emperor Zurg. Zurg wants control of a powerful technology known as the uni-mind, which is a device the LGMs (Little Green Men for short) use to communicate with one another and remain efficient in the galaxy. However, Zurg captures the device and plans to manipulate it to make everyone’s mind as evil and diabolical as him. Buzz is sent in to stop him however they request that he have a partner. Buzz, however, refuses as he lost his last partner Warp Darkmatter and the pain of losing him made him blame himself for it. Thus he repeatedly drives away the other rangers that try to help him including a princess named Mira Nova, a robot the LGMs create named XR, and a janitor named Booster.
The setup for the story sounds somewhat basic but there’s somewhat of a self-awareness factor to it. The comedy both pays homage and parodies the tropes from old Saturday morning cartoons. For instance, in the climax, Zurg lures out Buzz by falsely threatening to target a planet of orphans and widows. In addition, it does show the stuff that you might expect from a cartoon like this based on what has been referenced in the Toy Story movies. The movie doesn’t really have much in the way of emotion or any twists and turns that you won’t see coming but the adventure of it all still feels fun and silly. And in a sense, it feels intentional like it wants to just show off the fun of the adventure.
All the characters have great talent behind them including Nicole Sullivan, Larry Miller, Patrick Warburton as the LGMs, and especially Wayne Knight as Zurg. Knight’s voice, in particular, is downright unrecognizable and it’s played in both a menacing and funny manner. And the characters themselves do a great job at working off each other with their different personalities.
The movie (and by extension the show) doesn’t come close to being on par with anything the Toy Story trilogy has had to offer but for someone who just wants to know more about Buzz Lightyear’s universe, this is worth checking out. It genuinely feels like this was the character and adventures the toy was based on. It’s very clearly meant for kids but its comedy and charm is just enough for adults. Check it out for yourself and enjoy the journey to infinity and beyond.