(Today’s NaPoWriMo prompt was for a poem in the form of a poem prompt. Based on the examples given, I went beyond the limits of time and science fiction for this one.)

Where only his machines remain,
Go forward to the end of man.
Seek out the few who walk the plain,
Who rust and memory contain,
Who live beyond what humans can.

Inspect their logs or ask them straight
The last word they heard humans speak:
A dying breath, a parting hate,
Decision to “deactivate,”
The hopeful blending with the bleak.

Combine each word or final phrase
And let them marry in the mind.
Then add a touch of quiet praise
To those who still recall those days
And leave the poem for them to find.

Best line:  PG-13

I love Tom Hanks. Who doesn’t love Tom Hanks? Assuming he doesn’t do something wildly unexpected, like slap someone onstage, he has earned his place as one of America’s most beloved actors, and my VC and I would probably watch any new release if he’s in it. So it’s no surprise that a film placing him in a desolate future with only a robot and a dog promised the same kind of strong solo acting that Cast Away boasted. Finch doesn’t reinvent any wheels, but it’s one more proof that Hanks is an acting army unto himself.

A lone survivor on a future earth scorched by an intensified sun, Hank’s Finch Weinberg shelters in an abandoned lab in St. Louis and scavenges for supplies with a radiation suit. Knowing his death is inevitable, he uses his robotics expertise to build a humanoid bot named Jeff (Caleb Landry Jones) to care for his dog Goodyear after he is gone. When a deadly storm approaches, Finch has no choice but to pack up his solar-powered RV and set out on a road trip west, where they at least have a chance at survival, all the while teaching the child-like Jeff how to drive, play, and live.

There’s natural charm in the interactions of Finch, Jeff, and Goodyear, with Finch as the exasperated parent trying to train his wards how to survive in the wasteland. Hanks is more than up to the task and fills his character with stoic pathos, while Landry’s vocal work and the seamless special effects humanize Jeff as an overeager caretaker to join cinema’s great lovable robots. There may not be that much unique about the downbeat, lone-survivor dystopia, but Hanks and his non-human companions nail a range of emotions to make Finch well worth a watch.

Best line: (Finch, angry at Jeff) “I know you were born yesterday, but it’s time for you to grow up.”

Rank: List Runner-Up

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