Sci-fi adventure. With Tom Hanks, Caleb Landry Jones and Seamus. Director: Miguel Sapochnik.
This dystopian film tells the story of the title character (Hanks) scavenging for food and supplies in a world ravaged by climate change.
Finch, a robotics engineer, lives in St Louis in the US with only his dog, Goodyear (Seamus), for company. But he doesn’t have long to live so he’s building a robot, Jeff (Jones from Get Out), to take care of Goodyear when he’s gone.
Hanks shows once again how capable he is of carrying an entire film and Seamus is an adorable mutt, but Jones’ motion-capture performance as Jeff steals the show as the innocent and naive robot learns about the world around him. It’s in these sweet moments that the movie really shines.
Once the unlikely trio set out to find a haven in San Francisco, tension builds as Jeff continually fails to complete the tasks expected of him. The menace of the remaining people in the world is felt without showing them but the message is clear: don’t trust anyone!
The story is slight and there’s not much to it but it’s still an entertaining film that will have you tensed up one moment, laughing the next and reaching for the tissues before the end.
– DEWALD POTGIETER
2021. 115 MIN. 10-12PG. AVAILABLE ON APPLE TV+.
Lovecraft Country ****
Horror. In ’50s America, Korean War veteran Atticus “Tic” Freeman (Jonathan Majors) arrives in Chicago in search of his missing estranged father, Montrose (The Wire’s Michael K Williams). After finding a letter from Montrose inviting him to the mysterious town of Ardham, Tic sets off on a road trip with his uncle George (Courtney B Vance) and childhood friend Leti (Jurnee Smollett from Birds of Prey).
This leads them to encounters with monsters, ghosts, white supremacists and an occult secret society with links to Tic’s ancestors.
This visually stunning, emotionally intense show isn’t for the faint of heart. What makes it so potent and visceral is that its full-on, extreme horror visuals are combined with the horrific racist abuse its characters suffer in their everyday lives.
Based on the novel by Matt Ruff, Lovecraft Country cleverly, though sometimes heavy-handedly, plays with the themes and tropes of influential horror writer HP Lovecraft while challenging his racist views by centring the story on black characters who must survive discrimination as well as the supernatural terrors thrown at them.
Brimming with ideas, subplots and subtext, the show sometimes struggles to fit in each episode’s main story while also keeping the overarching plot going.
The standalone adventures, which jump between genres – from haunted house and demonic possession to Indiana Jones-style tomb raiding and reality bending sci-fi – end up being more satisfying than the main story, which after an intriguing build-up ends in a disappointingly predictable and hurried way. But this is one series where the relative let-down of the finale doesn’t tarnish all the great stuff that’s gone before.
The main characters are well-rounded, continually revealing different facets of their personalities, and are vividly brought to life by Majors, Smollet and Williams’ emotionally affecting performances. If you enjoyed gory yet sophisticated horror series Penny Dreadful, or Watchmen, which explored racism in a sci-fi setting, you should enjoy this show.
Plans for a second season were scrapped but Lovecraft Country wraps up its story so can be watched as a mini-series.
2020. 10 EPISODES. 18LVPS. AVAILABLE ON SHOWMAX.
Always Be My Maybe ***
Romantic comedy. Everyone assumed that childhood friends Sasha (Ali Wong) and Marcus (Fresh off the Boat’s Randall Park) would wind up together, except for the pair themselves. Sasha, now a Los Angeles-based celebrity chef, returns to San Francisco after being away for years, to open a new restaurant.
She runs into Marcus – a happily complacent musician living with and working for his dad (James Saito). Though Sasha and Marcus live in different worlds and are reluctant to reconnect, their old spark is soon reignited and they start to wonder – maybe? The only problem is Sasha is now dating movie star Keanu Reeves (playing himself).
With an easy-going soundtrack and decent performances, this romcom is certainly entertaining, but even with its clever social commentary and heart-warming ending, the movie doesn’t offer enough depth to make the story remotely believable.
The “second chance” message is a little concerning: that after a little makeover, condoning bad behaviour by taking back a selfish man-child is a reasonable and acceptable compromise for a woman to make.
Highlights include Asian-American cultural references and Park’s witty musical compositions, one of which plays off well against Reeves’ humorous and ironic portrayal of himself.
If you’re a fan of romcoms, this simple, sweet and funny “friends to lovers” story with its clichéd grand gestures and awkward moments is still worth a watch.
– CAMILLA THOROGOOD
2019. 102 MIN. 13LD. AVAILABLE ON NETFLIX.
A: All ages D: Drugs H: Horror L: Language N: Nudity P: Prejudice PG: Parental guidance S: Sex V: Violence