At the beginning of Lightyear, there is a title card that specifies that this is the movie that Andy from Toy Story watched that made him a fan of the character, Buzz Lightyear.
The context is that this is the movie that the Buzz Lightyear we know from Toy Story is based on. The thing is, that title card should not have been there, because Lightyear is obviously not. If Andy got the Buzz Lightyear toy in 1995, then a movie like this would have been made in the late '80s or early '90s.
Yet the main thing is that Lightyear does not look like a movie that would be made at those times. Nor does Lightyear go in line with the Buzz Lightyear lore established in the Toy Story films. Lightyear feels like a movie that is only possible if made today, with trends that are too modern for the period this movie is supposed to be made in.
The few elements that make Lightyear feel like a retro sci-fi movie from the early '90s are also the features that critics believe are holding the film down. Then again, we are not here to judge the quality of the film, only the believability of this film being a product of its period.
The verdict is that it would have been better if it just pretended to be a reboot of the movie Andy watched as a child. Then again there are a few exceptions that make us believe Lightyear is a product of the late '80s and early '90s... Just a few.
8. Why It Is: It Has A Mostly Human Cast
Today we are so spoiled with movies like Guardians of the Galaxy, we forget that if Lightyear was a live-action movie from the late ‘80s and early ‘90s, characters like Rocket Raccoon or Groot would not have been possible yet. The time of fully emoting alien characters can be brought to life on screen was yet to come. The best that could be done at the time would be actors wearing make-up, and even then it would not be convincing, so if a ‘90s sci-fi can avoid that, it would.
So a wise choice has been made for the cast of Lightyear to be formed by mostly only human characters - With Buzz, Izzy, Mo, Darby, Alisha, and so on. If the cast has been filled with alien characters like the character Buzz hangs out within the TV series, Buzz Lightyear of Star Command, we would further not believe that this is a late ‘80s or early ‘90s sci-fi movie. it may look like a Pixar animated movie, but they cannot do that if it is pretending to be a retro live-action movie.
Remember that the main cast of Star Wars - Luke, Han, and Leia are human characters despite living in a world full of aliens. Fast forward to the ‘90s, and the trend of an almost all-human cast is still there, from RoboCop, Total Recall, Stargate, to Starship Troopers. It may be hard to believe now, but Jar Jar Binks was a game-changer.