I hope you had a great holiday season. Mine was so fantastic I managed to lose two draft posts! Which is embarrassing when you’re supposed to be a professional programmer, and your blog is connected to GitHub.
One of the highlights of my winter break (which wasn’t really a break because I work for a modern-day Scrooge & Marley) was finally getting around to watching Finch on Apple TV+. It was released in November of 2021, but in typical Eric fashion, I didn’t get around to watching it until after Christmas.
We don’t get a lot of sci-fi comfort food. Good or “real” sci-fi is about real life and tends to engage in social commentary, make us cry, make us laugh, and always make us think. But it’s rare for a sci-fi story to give you the warm and fuzzies.
But Finch does exactly that, as it does all of the above.
Finch opens in a future where the world has been ravaged by global climate change. But in a departure from many recent films, the changes were brought on by a solar flare that destroyed the Earth’s ozone layer, as opposed to the slow(er) destruction of the climate that we talk about while we drive around in our SUVs and pickup trucks.
Finch is an engineer hunkered down in a factory with a dog and a couple of homemade robots. The movie opens when he finishes the most advanced he’s built so far. Soon after, he needs to find a new home for his motley crew.
I don’t want to give away any more of the plot. It’s a movie that benefits from going in without the weight of any in-depth reviews or commentary.
Tom Hanks is Finch, and only the human to appear in the movie. Caleb Landry Jones, who appeared in X-Men:First Class and Get Out is the voice of Jeff, Finch’s newest creation. Seamus plays Goodyear, the dog who plays a big role in the story.
Finch has few surprises. That doesn’t mean it’s predictable—there’s still plenty of tension, and the ending isn’t entirely what I expected. But it’s a family film with a comfortable tone that assures you that you’re in safe hands.
You’re in Tom Hanks' hands.
Hanks brings the solid moral center and common decency that he brings to all of his characters, but Finch is neither soft nor perfect. Life in the post flare world hasn’t been easy, and he’s had to toughen up a bit. He’s also a man on a mission and grows frustrated quickly when something gets in his way.
Finch’s post solar flare world is desolate and cruel. The flare destroyed the world’s ability to produce crops, which led to a permanent break in the supply chain. This led to the violence, cruelty, and inhumanity that play an increasingly outsized part in modern science fiction. But Finch avoids the temptation to wallow in it. It’s there. It’s real. It’s an important part of the story, but it’s felt rather than seen.
Jeff, the new robot, is an AI. His portrayal is delightful. We see Finch boot him, perform some early troubleshooting and then watch Jeff learn to walk and talk. Much of the comedy and drama that follows is related to Jeff learning how to survive in a cruel world.
Finch is a must-see for sci-fi fans. Get to it if you haven’t already.
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