This review originally appeared on the now-defunct site FamilyWonder.com, which showcased children's entertainment for parents and caregivers.
Title: BUZZ LIGHTYEAR OF STAR COMMAND: THE ADVENTURE BEGINS
Year: Disney, 2000
Running Time: 1 hour 10 minutes
Woody, Rex and the gang are pleased as punch to have received the new "Buzz Lightyear of Star Command" video, which they pop in to watch. Buzz and fellow Space Ranger Warp Darkmatter try to rescue three kidnapped Little Green Men from Zurg's forces, but Warp disappears in an explosion during the attempt, leaving Buzz without a partner. Back at Star Command, Commander Nebula tries to pair Buzz with rookie Princess Mira Nova, but Buzz prefers his solitude, though he agrees to take experimental robot XR on a mission to save the Little Green Men from Zurg's invading forces.
When Zurg steals the Uni-Mind that allows the Little Green Men to work as a collective, gutsy Mira embarks on a forbidden plan to stop him, with Buzz in pursuit. But Buzz has a couple of stowaways on board, and none of them can guess Zurg's plan to convert the entire galaxy to evil using the Uni-Mind. Buzz has to be reminded of the value of cooperation before his team can explore infinity and beyond.
Best For Ages:
2-5 - Emperor Zurg's menacing voice, as well as the many explosions, may frighten very young children.
5-8 - The ideal age for this clever space parody.
8-12 - Older kids will get more of the references to famous sci-fi movies, though the theme may seem trite to them.
Educational Value: Star Command emphasizes the importance of teamwork and of following the rules. Buzz learns the value of having a partner.
Entertainment Value: The animation isn't nearly as innovative as TOY STORY's, but fans of Buzz and Zurg will enjoy seeing them in this space adventure. The action relies a bit much on battles and explosions, but introduces likeable new characters.
Violence: Many space battles with dramatic explosions, though we aren't aware of anyone dying on the ships. Buzz uses his laser on a variety of foes, is shot at in turn by Zurg and his minions. A friendly robot shatters into dozens of pieces. A villain blows up Buzz's mechanical arm.
Emotional Intensity: Buzz believes that his partner has died and mourns at a funeral service. Zurg turns a good ranger to evil.
Frightening situations: Crater vipers try to bite Buzz's head off. Little Green men tortured by aliens with giant brains. When Zurg steals their planet's Uni-Mind to turn people to evil, Commander Nebula speaks in Zurg's voice.
Questionable Behavior: Buzz, Princess Mira, and custodian Booster doesn't always follow Star Command rules.
It's not TOY STORY, but BUZZ LIGHTYEAR OF STAR COMMAND: THE ADVENTURE BEGINS brings back many familiar characters in a fast-paced adventure that will amuse adult science fiction fans as well as kids who like Buzz and Zurg. Though it parodies the STAR WARS films, none of the jokes gets a laugh like Zurg's confession in TOY STORY 2 that he is Buzz's father. Still, lines echoing the rebel mission against the Death Star and Princess Leia's dislike of her title give this video some of the charm of that franchise.
Though there are fights and explosions in nearly every scene, the violence looks comical. Only robots (which the engineers rebuild) receive serious damage. A four year old viewer pointed out that Buzz, Zurg, and the Rangers wear body armor and use mechanical wings to fly; they're obviously super-heroes, without the physical concerns of people or their toy counterparts which can break arms in TOY STORY. Children who have watched Saturday morning cartoons will be familiar with this style of cartoonish fights.
The message about following school rules gets a little underplayed since Buzz and his team keep breaking them, but the emphasis on teamwork and collaboration is reinforced verbally and through the story. Younger kids won't realize that brainwashing devices, pit vipers, and regulations on lightspeed travel are staples of cheap sci-fi movies, though some of them will recognize the voice of STAR TREK's Captain Kirk, William Shatner, performing the concluding song.
Pre-teens are more likely to be amused when XR sneaks a peek at the Victoria's Circuits catalogue, and when Buzz runs through a litany of cliched reasons his partner might have betrayed him including amnesia, evil clone, android replica, and mind control. For older viewers, GALAXY QUEST will provide great entertainment, while younger fans will get a kick out of THE BRAVE LITTLE TOASTER GOES TO MARS.
Children's Television Reviews