It was from his favorite movie.
This is that movie.
Lightyear is the twenty-sixth CGI animated feature by Pixar and a Spin-Off of the Toy Story series, marking the solo feature directorial debut of Angus MacLane (Toy Story of Terror, Finding Dory).
The film serves as an Origins Episode for longtime Toy Story Deuteragonist Buzz Lightyear — or rather, the "real" Buzz Lightyear (voiced here by Chris Evans); in truth, this movie is the official Defictionalization of the blockbuster film that inspired the In-Universe Buzz Lightyear toyline and made Andy so excited to play with the Buzz action figure we met in the original Toy Story.
Joining Evans in the voice cast are Keke Palmer, Peter Sohn, Taika Waititi, Uzo Aduba, Efren Ramirez, Dale Soules, Isiah Whitlock Jr., Mary McDonald-Lewis, and James Brolin. The film was released exclusively in theaters on June 17, 2022, becoming the very first theatrical Pixar offering in more than two years.note The film arrived on Disney+ on August 3, 2022, notably becoming the first non-Marvel film on the platform released with its special IMAX formatting preserved.
See also Buzz Lightyear of Star Command, another Buzz-centric Toy Story spin-off which also purported to be the in-universe real series the toys spun off from. With the release of this film, the cartoon is now supposed to be an in-universe Recycled: The Series adaptation of the film as a television series with a different interpretation of the Buzz Lightyear mythos, though Word of God says that the Buzz and Zurg we know from Toy Story are still from the cartoon's toyline in-universe.note
Previews: Teaser Trailer Official Trailer Official Trailer 2
Lightyear provides examples of:
- Absent Aliens: With the exception of a some non-sentient extra-terrestrial bugs, there are no aliens in this film, with even Zurg turning out to be an alternate-future version of Buzz Lightyear.
- Adaptational Sympathy: Zurg, a Card-Carrying Villain in both Toy Story and Buzz Lightyear of Star Command, is a future version of Buzz and a Tragic Villain trying to undo the mistake he made years ago that got everyone stranded.
- Aerith and Bob: A last name variant; Morrison, Steel, and Hawthorne are mostly common last names, but then the movie presents some over-the-top last names like Lightyear and .... Featheringhamstan.
- Alien Blood: The extra-terrestrial bugs are shown to bleed purple blood when Alisha fires at one in the beginning of the film.
- Alternate Continuity: As mentioned above, this is the In-Universe film that inspired the Buzz Lightyear toyline in the Toy Story universe.
- Ambiguous Situation: It's made clear that the Zurg seen in the film is not actually the "real" Zurg, as Old Buzz stole the gear and technology from a much larger Zurg fleet. What's not clear is Old Buzz's relationship to the "real" Zurg. Is there another, more traditional Zurg out there, and if so, why was he not present on his own ship? Could it be possible that the "real" Zurg is Old Buzz, but in the future, and that the events of the film represent the start of some kind of Stable Time Loop?
- And the Adventure Continues: The film ends with the Space Rangers blasting off at hyperspeed to investigate a disturbance in Gamma Sector 4.note
- Arc Words: "Finish the mission."
- Art Evolution: Buzz's signature spacesuit gets a visual upgrade, owing to a more realistic art direction as opposed to the toys. The colors are less bright, the midsection and hips are more defined, and it overall has proportions and details that make it look more like a real spacesuit. In particular, the red button that expands the wings on the toy is now the pull tab for an emergency inflation device.
- Artistic License – Physics:
- Considering the semimajor axis of the Hostile Planet the Colony Ship landed on of its orbit of its primary cannot be more than 2 Astronomical Units (and is probably substantially less), and that to even reach a Time Dilation value of T 0.5 would require a velocity of .875 of C (Speed of Light in a Vacuum), there is simply no way a simple slingshot around that star's primary would cause that level of subjective Missing Time each time hyperspeed was attempted and failed.
- The hyperspeed deceleration rings were not parked at a plausible Lagrange Point, meaning that there could be no way to insure that they would have been in sync enough to make the deceleration anywhere nearly as reliably as the movie suggests these repetitions took place.
- Belly-Scraping Flight: One that turns out to be more significant than most; as Buzz is attempting to launch the Turnip, the vines cause it to take off at a low angle. Buzz tries to fly it manually, but the ship scrapes the edge of the cliff they'd been trying to clear. This causes damage to the ship's drive which causes them to come crashing back down, and strands them on that planet.
- Bittersweet Ending: More sweet than bitter, but still: Buzz defeats Zurg and saves the colony on T'Kani Prime, and, while he'll never be able to get the time he wasted trying to go to hyperspeed back, he has forgiven himself for stranding the colony and gotten over his more toxic tendencies. Commander Burnside reinstates the Space Ranger program, and the film ends with Buzz a Space Ranger once more, alongside his new friends, as they blast off on a new mission. However, the colony will remain stuck on the inhospitable T'Kani Prime for the indefinite future, and somewhere deep in space, Zurg reawakens, no doubt ready to get his revenge.
- Breaking Old Trends: Downplayed somewhat due to being an alternate universe spin-off, but this is the first theatrical installment of the Toy Story franchise not to be scored by Randy Newman. Instead, it is helmed by another Pixar regular, Michael Giacchino (who actually scored the Halloween special Toy Story of Terror, also directed by Angus McLane).
- Brick Joke:
- During the Cold Open, Buzz cannot pronounce the rookie Featheringhamstan's name properly. Much later in the film, Mo puts on Featheringhamstan's suit after finding it in an abandoned mining facility... and also cannot pronounce the name properly. And then the Stealth Mode heads-up display in the rangers' suits runs out of text field space to display the overly long name when they're stealthily attempting to leave the bug-infested depot.
- The robot DERIC tries to explain the route to the mining facilities, but keeps hitting dead ends and has to start over, until the others just decide it's easier to go there themselves. In a post-credits scene, DERIC finally finishes, but then realizes everyone's gone.
- But Not Too Gay: Alisha has one scene where she shares a quick kiss with Keiko, not at all like the passionate man-woman smooches we've seen in past animated movies. It's fairly justified since Alisha and Keiko have already been married for a long while, so quick shows of affection are to be expected.
- Casting Gag:
- This isn't the first time Chris Evans became a captain who wound up in the future and wound up having to fight a giant purple menace who will reset the universe as he sees fit, and is played by a Brolin. Nor is it the first time he's undergone a space mission to save humanity.
- James Brolin was once pursued by a seemingly unstoppable robot. Now he is the seemingly unstoppable robot.
- Autopilot computer I.V.A.N. is voiced by Mary McDonald-Lewis, best known as the voice of GPS system OnStar.
- Catapult Nightmare: Buzz has one where he relives the moment when he crashed the ship. According to Zurg, he has it regularly.
- Chekhov's Gun:
- Mo is fascinated by the detachable pen in his space ranger suit, and asks if anyone needs to use it. He finally gets the chance when Darby needs help opening the emergency break on the Armadillo.
- During the Chase Scene, one of the Zyclops slaps a teleporter button onto the fleeing Armadillo, but doesn't manage to trigger it. When Buzz is captured and the Armadillo out of fuel, Izzy uses the still-attached teleporter button to get the Armadillo, and the rest of the team, onto Zurg's ship.
- Comic-Book Adaptation: Random House have announced a graphic novel will be released in August 2022.
- Company Cross References: One of the buildings on T'Kani Prime is clearly modelled on Space Mountain.
- Conditioned to Accept Horror: Early in the film, characters treat being dragged off at high speeds by giant alien plant tentacles like it's an annoyance. Justified, with Buzz mentioning that they've been marooned on the planet for a full year.
- Contrived Coincidence: After Buzz lands his ship following his test of the perfected crystal, he learns that Zurg's mothership arrived a mere week before him. It turns out to not be a coincidence at all, as Zurg, or more specifically an older Buzz Lightyear, was looking for his ship and his version of the crystal so he could travel further back in time.
- Cool Starship:
- The large Spheroid Dropship that appears in a few beautiful panning shots, towering over the Star Command base in each one.
- The XL-01, the ship Buzz Lightyear pilots during the Epic Launch Sequence, has the majority of screen time, the highlight being when it does a Spaceship Slingshot Stunt around the sun.
- The XL-15, is of the Shiny-Looking Spaceships category, it's smaller and sleeker than the 01. It only gets two shots in the teaser, one sitting in a hanger, the other landed on a swamp planet.
- The Time Passes Montage of the hyperspeed tests has snippets of the various ships used for the test flights.
- Cordon Bleugh Chef: Buzz finds that in the time he's been gone, sandwiches have evolved from bread-meat-bread to meat-bread-meat. The others are okay with it, and think Buzz's concept is ridiculous (Darby thinks they would have too much bread). Buzz, on the other hand, can't get past touching wet, greasy meat while eating. Subverted after Buzz tries it, and says it tastes better this way.
- Cosmetically-Advanced Prequel: This movie is supposed to be the same one in-universe that the Buzz Lightyear toys of Toy Story are based on. Compare the detail of characters in this movie to the first Toy Story, then add that in-universe this is supposed to be a movie made in the '90s for extra disparity.
- Covers Always Lie: Buzz wears his iconic spacesuit from the Toy Story series on the movie poster, but he doesn't have it until the last scene, once Burnside recreates the Space Rangers corps in the movie. He wears a similar-looking but less high-tech version of the suit in the beginning and the last act, and very different outfits during his test flights with crystals. Using the iconic outfit on the poster (even though it has almost no screen time) is actually logical, since the movie's premise is "it's the origin of the In-Universe Buzz Lightyear franchise in the Toy Story setting".
- Death World: The main characters (or at least most of them) have been marooned on one of these for several years. Massive plant tentacles grab people and drag them off to an unknown fate with such regularity that the characters treat it like a mild inconvenience, and there's a recurring large flying insect flying into the electrified fences that surround the perimeter of the Star Command base.
- Deflector Shields: Burnside cancels Buzz's hyperspeed project in favor of creating a Laser Shield around the colony, protecting the colonists from the hazards of the planet. The shield actually manages to do its job, as it protects the colonists from Zurg's siege for an entire week, and shows no signs of problems even during The Stinger, where Burnside chuckles to himself as the shield fries a giant bug.
- Diabolus ex Nihilo: Absolutely no explanation is given for where Zurg's ship and robots come from. Old Buzz just found it randomly floating in space after hyperspeed jumping hundreds of years into the future.
- Do-Anything Robot: Sox is supposed to be a psychological recovery aid, but his A.I. is extremely sophisticated, enough to figure out the right fuel mixture to create a stable fusion crystal (even though it did take him 60 years of constant study). It's implied that he was deliberately designed this way by Alisha. It also can shoot a Tranquillizer Dart, is equipped with scanners and flashlight in his eyes, a computer interface at the tip of his tail, and a blowtorch in his mouth.
- Drop Pod: Zurg's robot soldiers use them to land on the planet.
- Earn Your Happy Ending: After getting a sample of what he could have become in his alternate future self, consumed by determination to undo the mistake that stranded everyone on T'Kani Prime and having become monstrous, Buzz lets go of the prospect of undoing his mistake with using the perfected crystallic fusion core and consigns himself to abandoning being a Space Ranger and face the consequences for his crimes of ship theft and insubordination... only for Commander Burnside to forego punishment and commission the formation of a new Space Ranger corps for the colony in the aftermath, with Buzz in command.
- Ejection Seat: The XL-series of ships seem to have this as standard. Buzz uses the XL-15's ejection seat, which takes the form of a winged jetpack, to get a shot at Zurg.
- Eternal Sexual Freedom: While the movie itself isn't set on Earth or in the past, it's supposed to be a film that existed in the Toy Story universe circa 1995. It also features a same-sex couple, which, for the decade, was a rare sight to see in mainstream media.
- Evil Overlooker: On the theatrical poster, Emperor Zurg's silhouette, with Glowing Eyes of Doom, appears above the heroes.
- Fake-Out Twist: When Buzz is beamed up to Zurg's ship, Zurg unlocks his robotic suit to reveal an older man who resembles Buzz. Buzz exclaims, "Dad?" (A twist backed up by Toy Zurg's Luke, I Am Your Father reference in the earlier Toy Story 2 film.) However, Zurg instead reveals that he is actually Buzz himself, from a now-alternate future.
- Faster-Than-Light Travel: Buzz's Cool Starship the XL-01 has a "Hyperspeed Launch" button. The entire premise is that they cannot breach the lightspeed barrier without the proper crystal.
- Five-Second Foreshadowing: After one of the robots escapes with the crystallic fusion, Buzz walks away from his group saying he needs sometime by himself. He immediately gets captured by Zurg and is teleported alongside him to his ship. Since he is revealed to be a future version of Buzz, technically speaking, Buzz did get some time to be literally by himself.
- When helping Buzz escape being decommissioned to go on the test flight using the new hyperspace fuel, Sox showcases he can use Tranquillizer Darts to sedate some star command operatives who try to arrest Buzz, with him quickly figuring out their intent was originally to be used to subdue him if he ever got too far out of line. Sox uses these in the climax to immobilize Zurg, a version of Buzz who indeed got "too far out of line".
- The film's main poster image seen above has Zurg as an Evil Overlooker to Buzz and the space trainees. Buzz's position has him placed entirely within Zurg's silhouette, and its eventually revealed that the "Zurg" seen in the movie is actually a Mini-Mecha piloted by an older version of Buzz, who sits inside the chest piece in almost the exact same location.
- When Buzz achieves 100% hyper speed, there are two bursts of energy in front of his ship going in opposite directions. This would imply that due to event, it would later be revealed that the timeline was split, allowing for two Buzz Lightyears to exist, one who we all know from the film, and the other who became Zurg.
- After Buzz lands after achieving hyper speed, and when the Zyclops takes the XL-15 to Zurg, he demanded to know where Buzz was, implying that he was after his past self.
- It's also worth noting that during the chase between Zurg's fighter ship and the armadillo, Zurg's piloting skills seem almost the same as Buzz's.
- At one point, an exasperated Buzz wishes that he had a time machine to avoid this whole mess. An alternate version of him managed to do so.
- Four-Temperament Ensemble:
- Buzz and the rookies
- Buzz Lightyear - Choleric (the determined, tough and impulsive space ranger)
- Izzy Hawthorne - Sanguine (the optimistic, caring and good-hearted Nice Girl)
- Mo Morrison - Phlegmatic (the neurotic, patient and clumsy Lovable Coward)
- Darby Steel - Melancholic (the grouchy, snarky elder)
- Buzz and the rookies
- Freeze-Frame Bonus:
- At around the teaser's thirty-three second mark, when Buzz's Cool Starship is entering space, you can see the Pixar lamp in the background as a constellation of stars. This bonus is actually reused from Toy Story 2, which also had the Luxo Jr. lamp hidden in the constellation of stars in its opening.
- When Buzz is looking at his rations after returning from his first flight, the boxes are all marked "Breakfast", "Lunch", and "Dinner"... with three boxes labeled "Brunch".
- When Mo checks out the vending machine at the mining facility after the capture-cones scenario, one of the packages in the machine has the Poultry Palace logo on it.
- When Buzz successfully reaches hyperspace, he comes speeding down onto the planet. The button he presses to slow his ship down reads "Falling With Style", which brings to mind what Woody said about Buzz’s "flying" in Toy Story.
- Friend-or-Idol Decision: Buzz has the chance to help Zurg go back in time to prevent the ship from being stranded on the planet, but instead he chooses to preserve the lives his friends led, even going far as to destroying the crystal before Zurg had the chance to use it and even kill him.
- Fun with Acronyms: Darby says that she's going to have fun with "Mister Boom". Then she pulls out a BFG labeled "MR-800M".
- Furry Reminder: Sox is a sophisticated A.I. personal assistant, but because he was designed with a cat-like body, he regularly presents feline behaviors, such as purring when being petted or having his belly rubbed, brushing himself against a person's legs, chasing a laser dot, and coughing up hairballs (actually lighting his blowtorch).
- Future Me Scares Me: Naturally, Buzz is more than a little horrified to discover that an alternate version of himself aged into a murderous, unfettered space terrorist.
- Genre Throwback: The film is supposed to resemble an '80s sci-fi epic, keeping with the backstory that the Buzz Lightyear toyline was created in the '90s. While it isn't entirely retraux, the film has a noticeably desaturated palette and a Star Wars-like Used Future aesthetic. Also, the robot characters are animated in a Stop Faux-tion style, like the go-motion creatures common in that era of sci-fi.
- Got Me Doing It: Alisha kids Buzz for calling their ship a "turnip", but when they get attacked by vines, she's the one who yells "Back to the turnip!"Buzz: Oh, so now it's a turnip?
- Grew Beyond Their Programming: Implied with the one-armed Zurg robot that attacks the trainees and almost captures Buzz. After Mo manages to nail it in the head with a harpoon, it eventually reactivates and proceeds to steadily chase them down no matter where they go, even outlasting the destruction of the Zurg ship, which apparently shut down all the other robots, just to kill them, apparently out of Revenge and the damage they dealt to it messing with its original orders. Burnside ends up shooting it down before it could do anything to Buzz and his team.
- His Own Worst Enemy: Most of the film's conflict and interpersonal issues between the characters stems from Buzz's inability to accept help from others and desire to fix his mistake of stranding the colony on the Death World with his own efforts no matter the lengths he has to go to. Which steadily and literally drive him apart from his close friends as the hyperspace test flights transport him years into the future, causing him to miss most of his colleagues' lives in the interim. This is ultimately symbolized by the film's version of Zurg actually being an Alternate Self to Buzz from a Bad Future, so consumed by this toxic determination that he's willing to go to the extreme of potentially causing a temporal paradox by stopping the crash in the first place. He even destroys his version of Sox when he finally turns against him as well, showing how he's pushed away or destroyed anything that originally mattered to Buzz to sate his obsession. Witnessing how he turns out ultimately motivates Buzz to let go of this mentality in the film's ending.
- Iconic Attribute Adoption Moment: At the end of the film, Buzz gets a new suit that looks identical to the toy's, including his iconic wings, just with more human proportions.
- Insectoid Aliens: The only sentient aliens seen in the film are giant bugs that look like armored beetles with spiky shells.
- Laser Blade: Buzz and Alisha are shown using beam-edged machetes. Later, guards are shown with similarly-augmented pole arms.
- Left the Background Music On: When Buzz is explaining his suit's purpose to Featheringhamstan, triumphant music starts playing. Then it turns out Alisha is playing the music from her own suit, much to Buzz's annoyance.
- MacGuffin: The Hyper Speed Crystal itself.
- Mecha-Mooks: Zurg's robotic Zyclops drones lay siege to the colony and pursue Buzz's team.
- Moody Trailer Cover Song: Actually a remix, but the trailers make good use of a more booming rendition of David Bowie's "Starman", which is an iconic '70s acid pop ballad.
- Mythology Gag: There's enough of them to fill their own page.
- Never Bareheaded: Averted; for the first time Buzz is depicted without his trademark purple space suit balaclava, showing off his brunette locks, as seen in the poster.
- Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: Alisha encourages Buzz to try multiple hyperspace tests so he can get everyone home and atone for his mistake. Doing so not only causes Buzz to miss out on a life of his own, but causes Zurg to come into existence, as he was a Buzz who never had the fortune of seeing how Alisha got to live her own life and decided he didn't care if he erased all of that.
- Nice Job Fixing It, Villain: Old Buzz's decision to time-travel backwards to a week or so before his arrival from his successful Fusion Crystal flight test and attacking the colony ends up causing an alternate timeline from his own where the alternate Buzz that is the movie's true protagonist was unable to return to base since they deployed the laser shield, thus avoiding Old Buzz’s near-arrest and learns to let go of his toxic-level Determinator tendencies by finding fellowship amongst a Ragtag Band of Misfits on the colony.
- Nondescript, Nasty, Nutritious: In his quarters, Buzz takes out a food ration package that looks like a pizza delivery box. He bends and shakes it to activate some kind of internal flash cooking mechanism. Opening the box reveals a TV dinner-like tray with congealed loafs of different colors in the compartments. Buzz then begins to take bites out of one that looks like a giant slab of spam.
- No Plans, No Prototype, No Backup: When Buzz creates the perfected crystalized fuel, which he has to do in secret, he accidentally destroys the formula for it. Much of the film's drama revolves around him having to protect his one source of fuel. Which makes the ending, where he destroys it to kill Zurg/Old Buzz, all the more impactful.
- Not His Sled: In Toy Story 2, a Zurg action figure tells a Buzz action figure that he is his father. In this film, while Buzz initially believes this to be the case, Zurg instead tells him that he is a future version of Buzz.
- Oh, Crap!:
Izzy: Oh boy, we'd love to be rookies.
- Buzz has this when he realizes his new team is a bunch of barely trained trainees — not even graduated rookies, which he holds similar disdain for.
- While helping Old Buzz set up his time machine to avoid the Turnip’s crash, Buzz realises that Alisha won’t meet her wife, and after expressing his concerns to Old Buzz, he brushes it off as a moot point he won’t care about as everything in the past few generations will cease to exist.
- Origins Episode: Serves as one for Lightyear and also, surprisingly, Evil Emperor Zurg, as it shows how he became known to the Galactic Alliance and how he gained his enmity with the titular hero.
- Plot Hole: A minor one occurs at the end of the film. Due to the perfected crystal suffering from an accidental case of No Plans, No Prototype, No Backup and being destroyed, it's not explained how the Space Rangers' ship is able to reach hyperspeed. It could be possible the colony developed technology powerful enough for hyperspeed travel over the years, but this is never made clear.
- Politically Correct History: In a meta-sense. In the Toy Story universe, this movie was released in 1995 at the latest. Alisha being in a same-sex marriage and starting a family with another woman would be extremely radical, though not impossible, for a family movie in The '90s. Of course, this assumes that it was intended as a family-friendly.
- Power Crystal: The crystallic fusion cores are an artificial, synthesized version that are central to Faster-Than-Light Travel, and the first act of the movie is Buzz's pursuit in finding the right mix to create a core that can get the colonists home. Buzz's perfected crystallic fusion core is used as the Armadillo's power source, and is also the Mineral MacGuffin that Zurg seeks for his plan.
- Ragtag Bunch of Misfits: Buzz's crew to defeat Zurg consists of Izzy, an untrained rookie; Darby, a woman on parole with expertise in explosives; and Mo, a guy who just showed up wanting to do something fun. They get more competent over the course of the movie and then get tapped to become true Space Rangers by Buzz in the denouement when Commander Burnside restarts the Ranger Corps.
- Related Differently in the Adaptation: Zurg and Buzz are father and son in Toy Story 2 (or rather, the characters they're based on are), here Zurg is an alternate Buzz from a changed future.
- Robot Buddy: Several robotic assistants to Buzz and Star Command are seen in the compound, including a bulky WALL•E-esque robot named E.R.I.C. who is seen briefing Buzz and a female member of Star Command on Time Dilation and a toy-like robot cat named Sox.
- Rocketless Reentry: With the Armadillo falling to the planet without power, Buzz has to guide it to a safe atmospheric entry and landing while outside the ship.
- Rule of Symbolism: To defeat Zurg, Buzz shoots the perfected crystallic fusion core to blow it up in the madman's face. This symbolizes his total rebuke of the dangerously unhealthy obsession he could have developed, personified in his obsessed alternate future self, and abandonment of an unachievable goal as represented by the fusion core that he spent so much obsessive effort on already to create and make use of.
- Running Gag: People getting yanked by vines, and everybody around them being very irritated by it.
- Sci-Fi Writers Have No Sense of Scale: Invoked in the opening sequence as a likely nod to sci-fi adventures of old but then played straight as the film goes on. In particular, that hyperspeed appears to simply be lightspeed — measured in increments of c, and even the completed crystal causes an increased time dilation effect of 22 years, as opposed to the standard four of the film up to that point raises serious questions on how any interstellar society can even function, or exactly what home Buzz thinks he can get everyone back to. Driven in by the ending, in which Buzz and his new team consider themselves the frontline defense of a "Galactic Alliance" that was seemingly too far away to be able to rescue the colonists in the decades since the initial crash.
- Some scream canisters from Monsters, Inc. can be seen in some scenes.
- When Buzz successfully achieves hyperspeed, in the moment his ship reaches it traveling in space at such incredible speed it warps the passing stars outside the cockpit, there's a brief homage to the "Stargate" sequence from 2001: A Space Odyssey.
- Sleeper Starship: The Turnip has 1,200 crew members in stasis at the beginning.
- Small Universe After All: The opening mentions they're 4.2 million light-years from Earth so they must be in another galaxynote .
- Spheroid Dropship: Nicknamed the Turnip, it's surrounded by girders and cargo containers, with nacelles around its circumference.
- The Stinger: Three.
- The first is a joke, showing Commander Burnside chuckling to himself about his new laser shield after a giant flying insect gets roasted on it like a bug zapper.
- The second is also a joke, showing Deric finally figuring out the directions to the storage shed, only to turn around and see that the others have left.
- The third reveals that Zurg has survived the encounter which saw him getting caught in an explosion caused by Buzz blowing up the hyperspace fuel.
- Stop Faux-tion: As part of an effort to make the film a Genre Throwback to 1980s science fiction films, Zurg and his robot army are deliberately animated in the style of go-motion techniques used during the time period.
- Strong Family Resemblance: Played with. When Buzz sees that underneath Zurg's shell is an older version of himself, his first response is "...Dad?" If anything, this implies that Buzz looks very much the spitting image of his own father.
- Subspace Ansible: "Aversions with FTL Travel" example in the idea of messaging back to Earth is never mentioned.
- Super-Persistent Predator: The one-armed Zurg robot that attacks the trainees and nearly abducts Buzz eventually reactivates and resumes its gradual pursuit of the quartet, able to track them down on foot no matter where they go, even over sections of their journey that they personally required a flight-capable jet for. It finally catches up to them just as they successfully finish their emergency landing from destroying the Zurg ship, coming close to finishing them off before it's finally put down by a shot In the Back from Commander Burnside. Notably, the destruction of the ship was supposed to shut down all the Zurg robots, which is why the Commander and the rest were able to deactivate the laser shield, but that robot's continued operation implied that the damage done to its circuity by the harpoon Mo lodged in its head rendered it immune to similar deactivation.
- Time Dilation: Because hyperspeed is explicitly connected to the speed of light (to the point building up to it is referred to in percentage of c), this comes into play. Each attempt Buzz makes to reach hyperspeed, a process that takes about four subjective minutes, causes four years to pass on the planet. The dilation seems to get worse when the hyperspeed barrier is broken, since the test of the hyperspeed-capable crystallic fusion core instead took 22 years.
- Time Passes Montage: Buzz repeatedly attempts to reach hyperspeed in one of these. Each attempt "costs" him four years, which we see as he remains the same while everyone else he knows grows older. By his last attempt, Alisha has passed away of old age.
- Vagueness Is Coming: Downplayed, as its not exactly the focus of the conflict, but Old Buzz reveals that he repurposed the warship and robot attack drones from the actual Zurg, as the ship itself was just floating in space adrift. He doesn't really elaborate much to Buzz about the specifics, but it's implied to be a reason why Burnside allows Buzz to reactivate the Space Rangers by the end, as eventually in the future, something will build those warships, and they want to be prepared for that.
- Visible Invisibility: When engaging Stealth Mode, the suits' Heads-Up Display will display an outline of any fellow ranger with a name label. As part of a Running Gag with the rookie ranger Featheringhamstan's name, the HUD labels his suit with half the name followed by an ellipsis.
- We Win, Because You Didn't: Buzz chooses to destroy the perfected crystallic fusion core to blow up Zurg, even if it meant completely throwing away the only thing that can get the colonists off-planet, but by then he's come to accept the current state of things.
- Wham Line: After Buzz crash-lands following a finally successful test, we get two in the span of a few seconds as Buzz encounters a soldier with his colleague Hawthorne's name on their armor.Buzz: [shocked] Alisha?
Izzy: Oh, no. [removes her helmet] That's my grandmother.
Buzz: But... Sox! How long were we gone?
Sox: [head rotating and ears blinking] MEOWMEOWMEOWMEOW... 22 years, 7 months, and 5 days.
- Wham Shot:
- Buzz enters Alisha's office at the end of the Time Passes Montage... and it's empty.
- The reveal that Zurg is a robot being piloted by a future version of Buzz himself.
- What Happened to the Mouse?: Although his suit is seen later, no mention is ever made of Featheringhamstan after Buzz saves him when they first arrive on the planet.
- White Male Lead: Buzz, the protagonist, is a white male, while Alisha and Izzy are black females, Darby is a white female, Mo is an Ambiguously Brown male, Commander Burnside is a black male and Sox is a robotic cat.
- Zeerust: While the film mostly avoids this, an exception can be found in the portable I.V.A.N. modules, which resemble video game cartridges from The Fifth Generation of Console Video Games and earlier. Considering this movie was In-Universe released in 1995, this makes a lot of sense and makes for a cute gag for viewers who grew up playing Nintendo 64 and other cartridge-based consoles. Buzz has to blow on the circuitry to get it working at one point.