Arguably the most successful of the recent screenplays, this sees “Finch” (Tom Hanks) as seemingly the lone survivor of a “Solar event”. This has exposed the Earth’s surface to lethal sun rays both to people and animals. Effectively anywhere without shade will be burnt to a crisp.
Finch is alone, apart from his dog “Goodyear” and four wheeled robot “Dewey”. The provenance of Goodyear is explained later but Dewey is Finch’s own creation, being a smart robotic engineer.
Finch is sick and being self aware, knows he is unwell and therefore home help is required to enable Goodyear to get his daily exercise, food and etc. Therefore when all else fails, build you own robot sentient being, to help carry out these necessary chores.
“Jeff” (Caleb Landry Jones) is therefore born, created in real life by motion capture but in a make shift lab within the film. Finch teaches Jeff how to walk, run and think like a human, albeit in a robot way, initially without any normal human nuance. Everything is yes or no, one’s or zero’s.
Deciding that staying put is no longer an option with storm forces on the way, Finch decides to strike out for San Francisco. Whether life will be better or worse is unknown but he treasures an old postcard of the Golden Gate bridge and a road trip is planned.
A trip in a dedicated RV with solar panels and various life preserving accoutrements is a huge risk in what is essentially an apocalyptic environment. If not dog eat dog, then certainly human versus human fighting for scarce food resources.
Various situations befall the unlikely quartet, leading to hard choices to be made. Will Jeff learn enough to be able to care for Goodyear, and even if he can, will Goodyear take to his new robotic master?
Hanks is his usual dependable self, believable in what is an unbelievable story, trading “Wilson” (the basketball) from “Cast Away” for a dog and a robot, he interacts with few others in the movie.
Jones does a fine job of creating a believable robot character through motion capture and Goodyear (Seamus) does a fine job of canine acting with no CGI effects required.
A small tale but told with some sympathy, restraint and genuinely touching scenes, which may leave viewers checking the tissue box is close during the ending sequences.
Hanks is as dependable as ever in a story that aims for “apocalypse lite” and largely hits that target, whilst toying with our emotions enough to care about a robot and his new canine owner.
Whether we need such a tale in the current climate is debatable but Hanks as usual lifts standard fare to a higher level.