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Lightyear (4K UHD Blu-ray Review)

Pixar finally returned to theaters after taking a mostly Covid-related “direct to streaming on Disney+” hiatus with Lightyear, the sort of offshoot origin story for one of the lead Toy Story characters. And it didn’t really set the box office aflame, being one of the more big name disappointments that came around. Its been on Disney+ for a bit now, but you can own it on the best format available when it arrives on 4K Ultra-HD Blu-ray with a Dolby Atmos track and a slew of extras to make for a nice, full experience. You can pre-order yourself a copy to own when it hits shelves on September 13, by using the paid Amazon Associates link the follows the review at the bottom of the page.

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Film

Legendary space ranger Buzz Lightyear embarks on an intergalactic adventure alongside ambitious recruits Izzy, Mo, Darby, and his robot companion, Sox. As this motley crew tackles their toughest mission yet, they must learn to work together as a team to escape the evil Zurg and his dutiful robot army that are never far behind.

We can debate over whether people wanted or needed a Buzz Lightyear origin/spin-off movie til we turn blue. But, how was what we got anyway? Lightyear finds us in the threshold of telling a classic science fiction serial story of yesteryear with detailed ships, outfits and weapons of the era but with the sensibilities and advancements of today. No matter the time period with which its pulled or displayed, the beating heart of the film is timeless.

The film deals in time travel, finding yourself and finding a family no matter what situation you’re in. Some themes and arcs that are quite common, but its fun to see done in different ways. And this one features a rather fun and frolicking cast that gets the job done. Chris Evans, to no surprise, makes for a solid Buzz Lightyear. The supporting cast keeps this bouncing and fun though, be it the energetic and radiant Keke Palmer or the silly, weird goofiness of Taika Waititi. While those big names easily draw, its the likes of Dale Soules as Darby Steel and Peter Sohn as SOX that prove to be the scene stealers.

What makes this a pretty rock solid and good space adventure is the planet sets, ships, props and action sequences in the film. There’s some well thought out material and genuinely clever set pieces that work quite well. Add in that there is a spice of some rather original stuff here as well. Lightyear‘s world and toys feels ultimately ready to be plopped into Tomorrow Land at Disney World at any second next to the likes of Space Mountain for some kind of cool ride or gaming experience (In addition to all the already Buzz-centric stuff they have at that park and Hollywood Studios already).

Lightyear is a solid generic space adventure (this is a compliment, though it sounds a bit weird to type and read, but go with me), Toy Story tie-in or not. It embraces some classic aesthetics and tropes to find a nice, easy viewing experience. Now, its not ground breaking, Earth shattering or out of this world, but its still quite pleasant, escapist fantasy. There’s plenty of fun, and a bit of an old school approach to producing a children’s animated story that is easy to appreciate and find a fondness for.

Video

Disclaimer: Screen captures used in the review are taken from the standard Blu-ray disc, not the 4K UHD Blu-ray disc.

Encoding: HEVC / H.265

Resolution: 4K (2160p)

Aspect Ratio: 2.39:1

Layers: BD-66

Clarity/Detail: Lightyear arrives on 4K Ultra-HD Blu-ray a native 4K title and looks pretty lovely. Its not one with a big glow or pop, but impresses in its more finer details and natural looking color scheme for being an animated movie. From the Blu-ray to this isn’t a the largest of jumps, but more information is available, its a crisper image with better contrast and saturation abound.

Depth:  Depth of field is quite strong and as is with all CG animated movies, it lends itself with ease to a very pushed back and 3 dimensional appearance. Scale is handled quite well, feeling like a big movie. Movements are natural and smooth with no issues from blur or jitter caused by rapid action sequences or camera movement.

Black Levels: Blacks are deep and natural, providing lovely shadow work and contrast to bring out some beautiful color. no information is lost in the sea of black. Sharper definitions and character detail is brought out with the blacks. No crushing witnessed.

Color Reproduction: Colors have a nice restrained nature to them, with a more darker and used look. While still be quite bold and striking when it needs to, its not your typical radiancy from animation. Many a laser, star system, fire, light up display and such get a nice sting from the HDR.

Flesh Tones: N/A

Noise/Artifacts: Clean

Audio

Audio Format(s): English Dolby Atmos, English 7.1 Dolby Digital Plus, English 5.1 Dolby Digital, English 2.0 Dolby Digital, English 2.0 Descriptive Audio, French 7.1 Dolby Digital Plus, Spanish 7.1 Dolby Digital Plus

Subtitles: English SDH, French, Spanish

Dynamics: Lightyear features a Dolby Atmos track right in line with Disney’s “Better than we used to be, but still not quite what people want” approach. You’ll need to roll your volume dial up a bit and some of the power doesn’t impact like you’re bracing for. Otherwise, this is a really nice, intricate mix with some nice layering, depth and dynamics on display. It is just one step away from a louder, more powerful and maximum engagement experience.

Height: From above you get ships flying over, lasers zinging around, debris falling, music and plenty more that really has a nice time towing the line of accuracy and having fun every so often.

Low Frequency Extension: The subwoofer does a solid, a hair above average job here. Its got good enough power to stomping, explosions, laser blasts, roaring engines, crashes and more…but in almost a “Go as far as I can without waking the baby” fashion.

Surround Sound Presentation: There is a nice, focused attempt here to bring every inside or outside environment to life. Ambiance is pretty constant around the room with some nice unique touches. Sound travels with decent power as it rolls around front to back, side to side and any which way you can (but loose).

Dialogue Reproduction: Vocals are clear and crisp

Extras

Lightyear comes with the standard Blu-ray edition and a redeemable digital code. All extras are featured on the standard Blu-ray disc.

Audio Commentary

  • Filmmaker Commentary – Director Angus MacLane, director of photography Jeremy Lasky, writer Jason Headley

Building The World Of Lightyear (HD, 14:29) – This is a look at crafting everything to live in with the film. This is about crafting the planet, the props, the ships and the finest details of it all. They even got to borrow model stuff from ILM to make it feel a genuine fit. This goes even down to the buttons in the ship in which what they look like and how they function.

The Zap Patrol (HD, 9:08) – This is a featurette about the characters in the film and the cast who play them. Features interviews with the cast. They also go over their dynamic, relations and growth through the film.

Toyetic (HD, 10:00) – The term “toyetic” is one to determine used whether a film or tv show lends itself to making toys. This figures into how Lightyear is such an easy one for that. It dives into how the director made a bunch of models for what he wanted to see in the film and how those wound up turning out.

Deleted Scenes (HD, 26:49)

Summary

Lightyear is just a nice, rock solid space adventure that hits the beats and beams its supposed to and does pretty well when put to task. The 4K Ultra-HD Blu-ray release of it. It features a pretty radiant and lovely presentation that has a nice look and feel to it. The Atmos could be a bit louder on its default and pack a bit more punch, but this is Disney we are (constantly) talking about in this field. It felt light on the extras, but gives you enough. A solid pick up at the right price and time.

This is a paid Amazon Associates link

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Brandon is the host, producer, writer and editor of The Brandon Peters Show (thebrandonpetersshow.com) on the Creative Zombie Studios Network. At Why So Blu he is a Writer/Reviewer. Brandon is a lifelong obsessive film nerd. As eager to educate in the world of film as I am to learn. An avid lover of horror, schlock and trash. You can also find older essays on his blog Naptown Nerd (naptownnerd.blogspot.com).

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