Pixar, the studio that has produced so many animated classics, has managed to do the unimaginable.  Somehow, they’ve taken one of their best known and beloved characters, Buzz Lightyear, and put him into a boring, generic science-fiction adventure.  On top of that, Buzz is no longer the officious-yet-funny blowhard.  Instead, he’s a person with no sense of humor and several troubling psychological tendencies.  In Lightyear, Buzz (voiced by Chris Evans) is a Space Ranger whose dislike of computers is matched only by his avoidance of help from others.  (Why?  Who knows.)  His single-mindedness nearly gets himself and everyone else killed, and from that point on, he’s fixated on undoing his mistake.  Buzz proceeds to spend years testing a new fuel cell that could get everyone back home, to the exclusion of all else.  Every test only lasts minutes for him, but years elapse for everyone else.  Best with failure after failure, he loses his only friend Alisha (Uzo Aduba) to old age.  (Yes, this is a children’s cartoon.)

Fortunately, his new companion, a computerized cat robot named SOX (Peter Sohn), helps him solve a problem with the fuel cell.  But first, Buzz must deal with Zurg and his robot henchmen.  Why is Zurg attacking the colony?  Why is Zurg hell-bent on capturing Buzz?  The answers may surprise you, especially if you’ve seen The Lego Movie: The Second Part.  Everything about Lightyear is surprisingly lazy.  With the exception of SOX, the jokes fall flat.  The science-fiction aspect is a timid riff on Interstellar.  The graphics are shockingly dull for a company that made Wall-E.  The morals of the story, about moving on from failure and accepting the help of others, have none of the emotional resonance of prior Pixar movies.  There may never have been a good reason to make Lightyear, but that’s no excuse for the result being this shallow and listless.  If cribbing from a Warner Brothers animated feature isn’t the equivalent of Pixar hitting rock bottom, I don’t know what is.  Pixar won Best Animated Feature not even two years ago for Soul.  How can this be the same studio?  Not recommended.  (Not even on Disney+)

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The Mandalorian (Season 2, Disney+)

This post is full of spoilers.  If you have not watched all of season 2 yet, you have been warned!

The arc of Season 2 of The Mandalorian shows the title character slowly changing his ways, acting less like an independent bounty hunter and more like a collaborator and friend.  From here on out, whenever I’m referring to the title character in The Mandalorian and not the show itself, I’ll refer to him as “Mando”.  This seems appropriate since most everyone who talks and writes about this show on the internet refers to him as “Mando”.  Heck, even a character within the show (Greef Karga) calls him by that nickname.  Mando actually has a name, Din Djarin, but calling him “Din” all the time would sound weird.  (Not as weird as calling someone “Greef”, but  weird enough.)  Rest assured, I’m going along with calling Din “Mando” out of expediency.  I still think it sounds too much like Lando, as in Calrissian.  Calling him “Man” would have been ridiculous.  But I digress.

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Mulan (2020)

Bravery – Truth – Loyalty – Devotion to Family

When I initially heard that Disney was doing a live-action version of Mulan, I thought I wouldn’t bother to see it.  I hadn’t seen the original cartoon, released back in 1998.  Back then, my wife and I had been married six months, so I believe she and I mostly saw films targeted for adults back then.  While I was familiar with the plot of the animated film (a young girl with exceptional fighting prowess and no interest in marital affairs takes her aging father’s place in the Imperial Army), I never sought out watching it.  I’ve never had more than a passing interest in kung-fu movies, or movies based in the ancient orient that involved a lot of swords clanging and people flying around.

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