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Kevin Krock, editor
DVD Review
Buzz Lightyear of Star Command: The Adventure Begins
(2000) | Approx. 70 Minutes | Not Rated | Reviewed by Al Lutz
Cover Art
Click to Buy
Ratings Summary
(Scored out of a maximum of five)
Audio Video  
Goodies   Interface  
Value   Auto-play previews
Advanced Home Theater - Buzz off

The Movie...

Oh boy, where do we start here? Let's start at the beginning...

There was this wonderful movie named Toy Story that delighted audiences in 1995 with some real heart and soul. "First movie ever made completely in a computer!" the publicity screeched - but that really didn't matter. What mattered is that after the first wonderful few minutes where you were dazzled by how it looked, you found yourself all caught up in what was simply a terrific movie.

What was so great about Toy Story is that it was not only hip, but brazenly in debt to the wonderful tradition of what a Disney movie should be - full of detail, warmth and in particular characters you really believed in. The folks at Pixar really did understand how to tell a story - and most importantly how to enchant you all over again like the classic animated Disney movies used to. They knew, even if Peter Schneider [then head of animation for Disney] and the rest of the suits at consumer products didn't, [they didn't have enough toys made] that they really had something special here.

In the old days at Disney, what used to happen with great projects was that they pretty much knew when enough was enough. Walt Disney himself was adamant that there was really no reason to make sequels to any of the classics, since there was really no way to make that same magic happen again. Plus he felt all that effort could go into making new titles, which would then increase the stable of characters the studio would own.

When they announced a made for video Toy Story 2 - I began to wonder if we were going to be disappointed by something that was made more for the financial guys rather than the audience. [The Aladdin video sequels hammeringly proved that accountants many times do make movies at Disney.] 

When then word got out that "the Toy Story made for video movie was turning out so well, we decided to go ahead and release it in theaters" my spirits began to life a little - after all this was Pixar for goodness sakes - which at this point after the charming Bug's Life - they were proving they could make a Disney movie better than the mouse itself could. [We won't discuss most anything post Lion King shall we?]

Toy Story 2 finally arrived, the world rejoiced [and bought lots of tickets] - and this time there were even enough toys at retail! We all were just as delighted with Woody, Buzz et all as we were the first time. The only disappointment now of course was that Pixar takes a long time between movies, and we'd have to wait a while to see something new from them.

Well Disney now being what it is - a petulant 20% growth machine instead of a mature concern that actually takes care of its intellectual property - that inevitable "made for video" phrase reared it's ugly head again. The word got out that there was finally going to be a "made for" of the Toy Story series. Spies from deep within Burbank had some initial good news - the "made for" would actually be not another sequel to Toy Story, but the debut of Buzz Lightyear's animated series - done as toy owner Andy would have seen.

What a clever idea I thought. With Pixar involved, this could be fun. We then heard that the voice cast was also pretty good - Tim Allen would be back for the lead, and he was supported by such neat people as Sean P. Hayes [from TV's Will & Grace] and Patrick Warburton [Elaine's Puddy from Seinfeld]. William Shatner was even going to do the theme song - ultra cool were the words I was using back then.

Well, the disc finally arrived at the local Fry's, and it was on sale! I had really made a point of NOT reading any advance reviews of the title - so I picked it up, brought it home, slipped it into the LD / DVD combo player, hit the play button and got ready to [as usual] try and figure out how skip all those force- fed ads those customer hostile Disney home video execs make you sit through.

A delightful four minute intro finally kicked in - computer animated by Pixar - and one of the first gags is a joke about those very ads Disney makes you sit though. I was saying out loud - "Oh this is going to be..."

Before the word "good" came out of my mouth - the show began. 

And then I quickly swallowed it back.

After about ten minutes, the DVD had cleared the room of my fellow viewers - and a week later - when we could finally make ourselves sit down and watch the last part of the show [we had given up before] - my roommates and I were shouting back at the screen: [as if said to a dog] "BAD movie, BAD MOVIE!, BAAAAD movie!"

Using a little space terminology here - there is simply no black hole in the universe big enough that could suck your brain harder into a void than this DVD. And that's been worded for the family readership we have here on MousePlanet. 

I'd tell you about the plot - but it doesn't really matter. [And it didn't apparently matter to the folks at Disney either.] The animation is cheap, flat and uninspired, as they do things to the characters here that would have you sent to prison if they were real people. 

The saddest thing is hearing Tim Allen sound so - well - I guess the word is dejected - as he voices Buzz. [He's only doing this one video too - not the rest of the series they now have expanded it to.] Not even the loopy rare non- Priceline appearance of William Shatner singing the final song could save this mess. This is simply an utterly horrible video. I could go on - but you get the point.

The word now is that Disney Home video minions have been bombarding customer feedback boards, such as Amazon's, with good write ups trying to drown out the bad reviews most people have put up. For example, take a look at sameness in writing on the last few reviews now up on the Amazon board for this title, and how unpolished the majority of the negative ones are [as you keep going past those first few]. It's pretty obvious they are trying to patch things up on line here.

And for those of you who may argue "well the kids seem to like it" - keep in mind many children also find refrigerator boxes, rubber bands and pillbugs to be vastly entertaining too. Shouldn't any good parent hope for a little more that that out of life? The joy of the two Toy Story movies was that they succeeded on so many levels - both with children and adults - with their intelligence, wit and style. This Buzz Lightyear DVD almost requires that viewers be bodily restrained in order to make it through the entire program. I shudder to think how poor quality the following series will be.

At the end of this review I'll explain how you can get a refund for this title - which I promptly applied for. If you haven't purchased this disc yet, I would suggest you rent it first. If you can make it to the end in one sitting, then it may be something you wish to own. My bet is that very few of you will make it that far.

The Goodies...

Here's the description of what the disc offers - from Disney itself:

  • "Buzz Lightyear" Digital Comic Book! Two reading options:
    • Have the narrator read the comic book to you.
    • Read the comic yourself. The words appear right on the screen.
  • "Buzz Lightyear of Star Command" Trivia Game! Test your wits! Score is tallied and ranked after each game.
  • Rogues' Gallery Game! A "Who's Who" of the villains lurking in the Gamma Quadrant. Test your Star Command knowledge by matching the villains' wanted posters with their descriptions.

As with most DVD interactive materials - once you play the games or do the activities, the fact they allow for little or no interaction or change in routine means that you will be forever repeating the sections when you go back to them.

The comic book feature again shows how out of touch Disney executives are with the audience - it uses such small type that you need jumbo sized screens to properly read it. I guess the division president doesn't have anything smaller than a 40" set in his abode.

Disney DVD as a product line generally features simplistic programming, and very low- brow feature sets - mostly due (as was related to me) to insanely tight budgets and their not wanting to hurt any other multimedia product [i.e. CD-ROM] sales.

Younger children - especially the ones who watch videos over and over again - may find the activities and comic book fun - but for everyone else once done, they are over.

The Video, Audio and Interface...

The video looks adequate - nothing exciting to report here. The animation quality certainly does not require anything beyond VHS resolution to show it off, that's for sure. Menus are workmanlike - in particular the art utilized looks cramped and busy.

I'll steal a line from Kevin Krock [editor of this section] about those damn previews: 

Finally, the video previews warning... as with most Disney DVDs, you'll have to slog through several force-fed Disney previews before you even get to the movie menu. Fortunately, you can skip through them one- by- one, but it's still a big annoyance.

Amen brother.

The Advanced Home Theater...

There is a 5.1 sound mix on this - which is only effectively used in the intro segment that Pixar created for the release. Other than that, the sound isn't much to write home about in the rest of the movie. Many viewers who watched this one with me were too loudly complaining about how bad it was to notice the sound anyway... ;)

The 1.78:1 "widescreen" has to be a joke they are playing on DVD owners - this one's made for TV from minute one and the minimal black bars at the top and bottom of the screen are apparently there only for decorative use. 

[I keep hearing these lesser widescreen widths are better served by not going anamorphic in the video transfer - but I think the blown up scan lines you get when you up the picture size up to fit in the widescreen TV you may have help provide more interest than the actual program content ever could.]

The Final Evaluation...

If you love the Toy Story movies, do yourself a big favor and do everything you can to avoid this one. [Hell, I'd even parental lock out the Disney Channel when it finally shows up there.] 

They say you can never go home again - and even though we did get to magically do that via a wonderful theatrical sequel to the original movie from Pixar - the Toy Story universe has been pumped bone dry on this incarnation by the accountants disguised as animators at Disney. I suggest you save your money instead for the three disc "Toy Box" set special edition of the two Toy Story movies Disney is releasing - that should be wonderful.

Now - if for some reason you DID buy this release [and that's ok, the first step in solving a problem is admitting it] - and you feel the same [or even more violently] about it as I did - there is hope.

The Buzz Lightyear title is covered by the Disney "Your Satisfaction is Guaranteed" program - which most of you can take advantage of, with a few minor exceptions. Visiting the site linked above will display on your screen a form in a new window that you can print out - with instructions on where to return the DVD for your money back.

The only hitch in this otherwise good idea of a consumer program? If you bought your DVD from out of state [which means it probably would affect most on-line customers] then you cannot take advantage of the offer. That's a pretty bad deal if you ask me. Thankfully I had made my mistake, um, purchase locally - and for the cost of the postage and a padded envelope [under two dollars] I was only out cash- wise about what it probably would have run to rent this.

DVD FEATURES

Goodies

Buzz Lightyear Digital Comic Book
Buzz Lightyear Of Star Command Trivia Game
Rogues' Gallery Game

Technical Specifications

Region 1 encoding 
 Color, Animated, Closed-captioned
Widescreen Letterboxed - 1.78:1

VHS FEATURES

Goodies

  • None
Technical Specifications
  • English Dolby Stereo Surround
  • Full-frame (1.33:1)
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