In the 1950s, interspersed and often mixed in with atomic horror movies, Hollywood loved itself a good dinosaur movie. From The Beast From 20, 000 Fathoms to the original The Lost World and Journey to the Center of the Earth, filmmakers treated audiences to stop motion dinosaurs or, in some case, stock footage of real lizards edited into action scenes via basic effects. Years later, Steven Spielberg changed the game with the revolutionary Jurassic Park. In addition to groundbreaking effect, Spielberg at least tried to present more scientifically accurate dinosaur. Thirty-years later, and a few Jurassic Park sequels and re-quels later, the creators behind A Quiet Place are sending Adam Driver out to space. but back to prehistoric Earth, to battle dinosaurs. Just the premise alone makes 65 sound a bit like the B-movie dinosaur fare of the 50s. Regardless critics have absolutely roasted the results.
Sixty-five millions year ago, on the distant planet Somaris, a pilot, Mills, accepts a two-year space expedition to expedite a surgery for his ill daughter. But an uncharted meteor shower damages the ship, forcing a crash landing onto a primitive planet – Earth. Only one of Mills’ passengers – a young girl named Koa – survived the crash. And the ship’s escape shuttle crashed 15 kilometers away the main ship. To escape the planet before an extinction-level event strikes the planet, Mills and Koa must cross a treacherous environment where dinosaurs still roam.
65 a Slick-Looking Mix of Action and Science-Fiction Dinosaurs
Given its premise, 65 could have gone one of two ways. Writer and directors Scott Beck and Bryan Woods (A Quiet Place) could have opted for a self-aware fun spectacle like Journey to the Center of the Earth. Or they might have tried a serious, and maybe edgier, update on Steven Spielberg’s Jurassic Park. Instead, 65 is a straight-faced, all-very serious take on its premise, which sometimes works based on the execution. On one hand, 65 is a polished thriller that wastes little time with set-up or exposition. Not only do Beck and Woods pace their story at a rapid clip, they use a predicable rhythmic approach interspersing attempts at quiet character moments with dinosaur action.
Instead, 65 is a straight-faced, all-very serious take on its premise, which sometimes works based on the execution.
By and large, these action elements work as everything on the screen looks quite good. Though the effects never approach the groundbreaking work of Jurassic Park, they’re still impressive enough to keep you engaged with the action. And the action is rarely dull – no one will call 65 boring. Moreover, the action sequences are always workmanlike in quality. Beck and Woods know how to use sound and the screen to elicit a handful of decent jolts. But they do rely heavily on the ‘loud is scary’ trope, which brings us the sci-fi thriller’s biggest problem.
65 Plagued By a Rote Story, Nearly Saved By Adam Driver’s Performance
Where 65 goes wrong is its own slavish devotion to familiarity and predictability. Beck and Woods dismiss any sort of context about why their space pilot is transporting people in cryogenic chambers to focus on a hackneyed family drama and dinosaur action. The familial bond that forms between its characters feels telegraphed immediately along with much of the setups of the action scenes. In addition, 65 suffers from lapses of narrative logic that Beck and Woods don’t seem concerned about addressing in even the most cursory way. When Mills says they’re 15 kilometers from the ship’s escape pod, it’s just a small incongruent detail among many that makes it hard to take 65 as seriously as it wants to be taken.
Where 65 goes wrong is its own slavish devotion to familiarity and predictability.
What often saves 65 from occasionally lapsing into unintentional laughs is Adam Driver’s performance. A distinct-looking actor, Driver often makes Beck and Woods contrived screenplay sound like Oscar-winning stuff. Driver is one of those actors who exudes intensity often without say much if anything. In 65, Driver quietly alternates between smoldering pain and despair without giving in to the movie’s more schmaltzy story elements. Though Mills’ character arc feels utterly predictable, Driver sells it aided by a good supporting turn from newcomer Ariana Greenblatt.
65 Makes For a Passable Mix of Action and Science Fiction, Though It’s Not Likely To Leave Much of an Impact
Not nearly as bad as its Rotten Tomatoes score suggest, 65 is certainly a passable blend of action and science fiction. Not surprisingly, its a popcorn movie that will never escape comparisons to the the Spielberg classic – and these comparisons do it no favours. Both formulaic and predictable, 65 likely won’t beget multiple viewings even when it makes its way to streaming platforms. And without Adam Driver’s performance, it might be a bit more of a slag to get through from start to finish. Nevertheless, it’s a perfectly fine rainy day afternoon movie if you want to shut off your brain for a bit.