The Movie Waffler New Release Review [AppleTV+] - FINCH | The Movie Waffler

New Release Review [AppleTV+] - FINCH

finch review
In a post-apocalyptic America, a dying scientist builds a robot to look after his dog.

Review by Eric Hillis

Directed by: Miguel Sapochnik

Starring: Tom Hanks, Caleb Landry-Jones

finch poster

Tom Hanks cements his status as the king of sentimentality with this mawkish, heavy-handed but undeniably likeable sci-fi drama from director Miguel Sapochnik.

Finch is a movie that features Isaac Asimov's prime directives and deals with the effects of a solar flare on our planet, but if you're expecting any sort of hard sci-fi, look elsewhere. This is a buddy road movie with such a hopeful outlook that it manages to make crossing a post-apocalyptic wasteland look like a fun journey.

finch review

The eponymous Finch (Hanks) is one of few survivors of the aforementioned solar flare, which turned the ozone layer into something Finch likens to Swiss cheese. As a result, the sun's UV rays are deadly, meaning Finch must live his life in the shadows.

Luckily for Finch, he's a scientific mastermind who has built himself a fortified bunker with all mod cons, including a robot named Dewey (a nod to Silent Running presumably), who is essentially an intelligent shopping trolley Finch takes with him on his scavenging runs.

Dewey isn't great company however, so it's fortunate that Finch has a canine companion in Goodyear, a very good boy he rescued just as things turned bad. Trouble is, the effects of the sun have been taking their toll on Finch for the past decade, and his time is limited as he's dying from cancer. To ensure Goodyear is looked after, Finch builds a sentient robot that will later name itself Jeff (voiced by Caleb Landry Jones). Before he can finish uploading the necessary data to Jeff, he's force to take to the road to avoid an oncoming storm. Finch, his doggo and two droids head for San Francisco.

finch review

What follows is a curious reversal of the Wizard of Oz dynamic. Here it's the tin man who is all heart, and his human master the one who has grown rusty and cynical. Early scenes see Finch reprimand Jeff for his naivete, drumming into him the threat the world poses. But Jeff is an innocent soul, literally born yesterday, and he sees only beauty in the world. As their journey progresses, Finch and Jeff learn a few important mutual lessons.

The script however feels like an early draft that never quite develops its themes. There's a lot of talk about the threat posed by other survivors, but we only get the briefest glimpse of this in an admittedly tense sequence of uncertainty. At one point something happens to the environment that feels awfully convenient, occurring at just the right time to lead into a hopeful ending.

finch review

Finch is torn between a live-action Pixar movie and a more adult-oriented post-apocalyptic drama. Science is dumbed down to a laughable degree here, with Finch creating Jeff''s artificial intelligence by scanning in his library, page by page, and Jeff is straight out of some cheesy '80s Short Circuit knockoff. This lightness clashes with the title character's impending fate and his deep sense of regret. Yet somehow Hanks and the voice work of Landry-Jones combine to make this work. We really buy into their unlikely friendship, to the degree that when Finch gets angry at Jeff we genuinely feel sorry for the bucket of bolts, who looks a lot like a robot version of Beaker from The Muppets. It helps that Jeff is a brilliantly realised CG creation, and thanks to Hanks talents, it never feels like Finch is communicating with a tennis ball in front of a greenscreen.

Post-apocalyptic thrillers are generally the grimmest sub-genre of sci-fi, so it's a pleasant change to see one that suggests that life will ultimately go on, though maybe without the involvement of the human race.

 is on AppleTV+ now.

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