Tom Hanks is no stranger to being the only human character on screen in a film.
All through his latest effort, “Finch,” I couldn’t help but think of him passing his days on the beach and having conversations with a volleyball in “Cast Away.”
He gets a little more to work with in this post-apocalyptic tale of a robotic engineer named Finch who just may be one of the last people alive on Earth. Or at least in the United States. We don’t get a lot of details, but it appears as though the ozone layer of the planet has deteriorated to the point that being exposed to the sun can kill you. With temperatures at deadly levels and radiation in the air, he has survived in an underground bunker.
It’s just Finch, his loyal dog Goodyear and a small scavenging robot assistant that he takes on missions above ground to scour for food to survive. In his downtime, he is building something more substantial – a large robot named Jeff that can easily maneuver, communicate, and be trained to care for Goodyear after Finch is gone.
This is a surprisingly intimate story that delivers more expansive visuals as they head out in an RV hoping to cross the country from St. Louis to San Francisco in hopes of finding a better climate zone on the way.
Everything hinges on the performance of Hanks and, per usual, he doesn’t disappoint. He is given a charming partner with Jeff (voiced by Caleb Landry Jones) – it’s interesting to watch their relationship develop and to hear Jeff’s voice go from cold and very robotic when he first launches to becoming warmer and more human as he absorbs knowledge and understands what his duties are.
Director Miguel Sapochnik has mostly worked in television with many episodes of “Game of Thrones” and the upcoming “House of the Dragon” spinoff under his belt. Working from a screenplay by Craig Luck and Ivor Powell, he builds a compelling story that is deceptively simple and far more heartwarming than expected.
The visual effects are so astonishingly detailed and impressive that it’s a shame most people will only be watching this at home, but Apple’s 4K/Dolby Vision transfer is gorgeous. The aggressive audio mix is highlighted by a lyrical score from Oscar-winning composer Gustavo Santaolalla.
While there is some minor profanity and dark themes, the cool looking robots and adorable dog will likely draw the attention of many children. It’s a pretty mild PG-13, but I think it would make solid family viewing for ages 10 and up (as long as your kids can handle the disaster elements and some imagery of dead bodies).
From seeing the trailer, I had dismissed “Finch,” but it ended up being a very pleasant surprise with another note-perfect performance from Tom Hanks.
“Finch” opens in select theaters and begins streaming on Apple TV+ on Friday.