6. Why It Is: The Robot Characters And Technology
While ‘80s and ‘90s movies couldn’t do larger-than-life alien characters, what they could do was robot characters. It was and still is easier to make believable robot characters than to do highly expressive biological fictional characters. With robots, there is always an excuse as to why their faces have limited expressions and limited body movements.
It was also not strange for these robot characters to be fan favorites. SOX, Buzz’s therapy robot cat, is the R2D2 in this scenario. If Andy wanted a toy other than Buzz Lightyear, it would have been SOX. Notice both SOX and R2D2 did not need complex movements to be beloved characters.
Interestingly, one character introduced that accompanied Izzy, Mo, and Darby, is a robot named ERIC. While Buzz gets to have an adventure with the human characters and grows with them, ERIC got left behind from the mission. It is as if this “live-action” sci-fi film is on a budget.
Another way to make sure Lightyear looks like an early ‘90s film is to portray the computers with a retro aesthetic. Despite the film taking place in a futuristic space environment, the technology has ‘90s vibe to it. The interface screens always have a blocky style the way ‘90s computers did.
There is a computer character named, I.V.A.N. - a computer that acts as a virtual assistant in a spaceship. It is revealed in a pivotal scene that I.V.A.N. is a plug-in that can be removed from the ship. To make I.V.A.N. work properly again, the human characters need to blow on it. To anyone who blew at their video game cartridge in the ‘90s, this part is awfully familiar.