Movie review: Finch
If this sci-fi feature did not star Tom Hanks, you wonder how bleak it would be.
The amount of grim, end-of-mankind, apocalyptic and/or dystopian content put out by the streaming services makes you wonder if there should be a mental health warning on these films.
Thankfully, Finch is a little sunnier than the usual bleakfest.
Now streaming on Apple TV+, it is set in a post-solar flare world, where the ozone layer is shot to pieces, frying the world with solar radiation, turning much of it into a dust bowl.
Of course, it was not so much the solar flare that killed everyone, more humans who turned on each other.
So Hanks is the titular Finch, a scientist - and one of the last humans (with humanity) - monitoring the situation in St Louis. Why and for whom, we do not know.
He is alone with small helper-robot Dewey (in a very on-the-nose nod to the 1972 sci-fi classic Silent Running) and cute dog Goodyear, as well as his own impending sense of the end.
So he builds an anthropomorphic robot - Jeff - to look after Goodyear should his end come sooner than he thinks.
Unfortunately, a giant storm forces Finch to pack and run before Jeff's brain is fully uploaded, leaving Finch with a well-meaning if impetuous roboteen he has to teach on their road trip of survival to whatever may be left of San Francisco.
It is all bittersweet stuff with a number of elements that will remind you of Wall-E.
The interactions between Hanks and Caleb Landry Jones - who provides Jeff's voice and movements - is sort of heartwarming. At least it would be if there was not an overall feeling of Finch's futility.
Director Miguel Sapochnik, more used to the chaos of Game Of Thrones battle scenes, is blessed with this cast.
As he proved in Cast Away, Tom Hanks solo can keep anyone's attention for hours.
Paired with a rather good dog actor and some very good effects for Jeff, this is an easy watch.
The only other humans are featured far in the background of a tragic flashback, or predators who patrol in their car during a tense game of cat and mouse.
But at just shy of two hours, it does feel like a future shock that could have been told in shorter time as an instalment in Netflix's Love Death + Robots.
Just don't think about how the story plays out past the credits if you want to keep smiling.