Review: Tom Hanks, a robot and a dog in ‘Finch’

Tom Hanks does not need a human actor partner or any other sentient being to help him make a movie or scene sing. You can think of Wilson the volleyball, Hooch, and even the laptop from "You've Got Mail" as examples. So it's not surprising that he's first on your list for your postapocalyptic movie about a man and robot.

Review: Tom Hanks, a robot and a dog in ‘Finch’

Tom Hanks does not need a human actor partner or any other sentient being to help him make a movie or scene sing. You can think of Wilson the volleyball, Hooch, and even the laptop from "You've Got Mail" as examples. So it's not surprising that he's first on your list for your postapocalyptic movie about a man and robot.

It's even more surprising that Hanks is able to deliver in " Finch," portraying a robotics engineer dying from radiation exposure, and trying desperately to ensure his dog is taken care of after he passes. This is the kind of story that will tug at your heartstrings. What's more romantic than Tom Hanks dying and a cute puppy? It's hard to resist. Yet, it's not as epic as it could be.

It started as a 20-page story about a man who creates a robot to take over the duties of a student film director named Craig Luck. It was his calling card. Despite some rejections, he kept his name. Robert Zemeckis, an associate producer on "Blade Runner", and "Alien" who co-wrote it, and Hanks, Miguel Sapochnik, and a major Hollywood studio produced the feature. Universal did sell the film to Apple TV+ in the midst of the pandemic.

After a solar event, Earth became a dusty wasteland. Now direct sunlight is the most hazardous thing in the universe. It can cook any living thing in a matter of minutes.

Finch, unlike the lonely, isolated men in "Cast Away", and "The Martian", has no family or place to call home. Finch is in a state of death and the world around him is dying. He wants to do all he can to ensure that the dog lives without him. He has to create a robot that he can train on the fly. The goal is 72%. But they are running out of time so they have to travel in an RV from the 1980s to San Francisco.

The robot is strong, smart and a good reader. However, he is not a servant but a teenager. His accent is a mix of Russian and "Twin Peaks' Black Lodge backwards talk. Caleb Landry Jones, actor (a nod towards his role in "Twin Peaks") made this choice. He also did motion capture work in order to portray the robot. It's hard to sympathize with this robot, regardless of whether it's the voice or the way the character was written. Sometimes, you wish he hadn't been introduced at all. This is not the best thing for him when he's only one of three characters.

The "Finch" movie's scope and size were clearly intended for a large screen and an attentive audience. This might not be possible on a TV in a living room. However, the same was true of "Greyhound," another Tom Hanks film that was still considered a great movie by Apple TV+. Many of the visuals will be familiar to anyone who has seen a postapocalyptic movie within the last 20 years. However, they are still striking and detailed and are not well-suited for small screens. The music cues are likewise very obvious (ahem "Road to Nowhere")

It's not the fault of anyone that a film with warning messages about traveling and living life to the fullest may prove difficult for people who are approaching the second year of life in a pandemic.

You're not likely to come to "Finch", but for Hanks. He's not only the reason to be there, but he's also the reason to stay.

The Motion Picture Association of America has rated "Finch", an Apple TV+ release, PG-13 for "brief violent scenes." Running time: 115 min. Two and a quarter stars out of four.

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