- 27 Nov - 03 Dec, 2021
- 20 Nov - 26 Nov, 2021
What would post-apocalyptic chiller The Road look like if it starred Tom Hanks opposite an adorable robot? A bit like this strange, sentimental sci-fi on Apple TV+ – co-written by veteran British producer Ivor Powell (who worked on Ridley Scott’s Alien and Blade Runner) and directed by Miguel Sapochnik. Well, it undoubtedly boasts some amazing visual effects work.
Tom Hanks plays Finch, an ageing, unwell inventor, who is perhaps the only person left alive on Earth after a human-made environmental catastrophe destroyed the ozone layer and left cities eerily half-buried in heat and dust. Now Finch scavenges for canned food by day and spends his evenings building an android called Jeff (a motion-captured Caleb Landry Jones) which has a Borat-slash-Stephen-Hawking electronic voice. Jeff goofily learns how to walk, to drive Finch’s RV and to understand the world – and his main task will be to look after Finch’s other special friend, a dog called Goodyear, when Finch is dead.
So, the character dynamic in this film is odd: it’s basically a three-way cute-off between Finch, Jeff and Goodyear and there are no other humans in the movie, except for the ones Finch remembers in harrowing flashbacks. And weirdly, the menace and danger that you might expect – the people or things that would actually threaten our lovable trio – are simply not there. While in their RV, Finch, Jeff and Goodyear appear at one stage to be pursued by someone in a car, and then… well, these people, whoever they are, seem to just to go away. There is a curious lack of jeopardy. Our heroes don’t run out of water or food and there are no battery-life issues with Jeff.
At the very end, there is the crucial question of whether Goodyear can learn to love and trust Jeff the way he loves Finch, and it is Jeff who we are supposed to find sympathetic and relatable: he is not like the creepy robots from 2001: A Space Odyssey or Dark Star, and the film even sneakily changes the way Jeff speaks from the ironically affectless robot voice to a more human tone. There is something anticlimactic and bland in it.