Film Review – ‘Finch’ is a Heartwarming Tribute to the Human-Dog-Robot Relationship

Film Review – ‘Finch’ is a Heartwarming Tribute to the Human-Dog-Robot Relationship

It is often said that dogs are a man’s best friend. Many humans expect to outlive their dogs, but in some cases, it’s the other way around, and those who are left must watch a mourning animal understand the deep loss and pain they feel from their absence. If, after a person’s death, no one else can care for a dog, a search for a new owner and companion will typically place. In the event of a post-apocalyptic world with no other people in it, the attachment to a pet can grow considerably stronger. In Finch, it’s what matters most to a man who goes to extraordinary lengths to ensure that his dog will be looked after when he is gone.

Earth has been devastated by a solar event, and Finch (Tom Hanks) walks what’s left of the planet in the company of his loyal dog, Goodyear. Able to stay one step ahead of the harsh winds and dangerous atmosphere due to his expertise in science and robotics, Finch knows how to survive, but is also well aware that even his time on this skeleton of a planet is limited. To prepare for his eventual death, Finch designs a robot, Jeff (Caleb Landry Jones), whose primary function will be to protect Goodyear. The three of them begin a journey west so that Jeff can gain an understanding of the world that he and Goodyear will be left to inhabit without Finch.

Tom Hanks and Caleb Landry Jones (as Jeff the robot) in “Finch,” premiering globally November 5, 2021 on Apple TV+.

Hanks, who is known as one of the friendliest and most dependable actors in the business, is no stranger to playing characters who travel a lonely journey. Whether it’s ending up in the body of an adult while still a child in Big or carrying information to an eager audience from town to town in News of the World, Hanks has a natural likeability that makes him easy to watch and relate to, the perfect face to welcome viewers into a dark and unsettling world with little light in it. His most isolated role, Cast Away, has similarities to this one, but it’s precisely the existence of two living companions that help keep him more tethered to reality and reason than an inanimate volleyball.

Jeff is also very entertaining and endearing, most comparable to a pet who possesses the ability to talk. Much of what he says is based in reason but also missing a few crucial pieces of information that humans take for granted. It’s comforting to know that Finch isn’t entirely alone, and that Jeff has been designed, to a degree, in his image, to mirror the same compassion and love for Goodyear that Finch and, by extension, sympathetic audiences feel. Jones, who often plays malicious, threatening characters, voices Jeff with just the right degree of enthusiasm and curiosity tempered by deliberate programming.

Caleb Landry Jones (as Jeff the robot) and Tom Hanks in “Finch,” premiering globally November 5, 2021 on Apple TV+.

Finch comes from director Miguel Sapochnik, best known for two very memorable epic Game of Thrones episodes, The Battle of the Bastards and The Long Night. This vision of a desolate landscape looks considerably different, containing its moments of terror and seeming inescapability but tinged with much more levity and brightness, far more suitable for audiences of most ages. Its PG-13 rating accounts for its occasional disturbing content, but this is overall a pleasant and affirming tale of friendship that transcends species and even artificial intelligence. Those with a particular affinity for pets and dogs will find recognizable traits in all three characters and appreciate the warmth of the bond that develops and transforms over the course of the film, a relatively expected but nonetheless uplifting testament that some relationships can survive even the end of the world.

Grade: B

Finch — First Look | Apple TV+

Finch premieres globally on November 5, 2021 on Apple TV+.

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