65 Is a Dull Dinosaur Survival Disaster

I don’t know how you make Adam Driver fighting dinosaurs look dull, but 65 does just that. The prehistoric sci-fi thriller has a neat concept — an interstellar traveller crash landing on Earth 65 million years ago and must navigate its dangers while protecting the only other survivor. The execution, however, leaves a lot to be desired.

65 feels like a film that was either rushed into production or had to be cut down to its commercially friendly 90-minute runtime, resulting in a boring experience that never hits the emotional highs it should. It’s everything the trailer makes it out to be, only there; it’s engaging for 2 minutes. It’s inoffensive and safe to a fault, so if you haven’t had your fill of sad-dad-protects-child-on-a-dangerous-mission stories, you might have a fun time.

Okay, but does it commit to the fantasy that its trailers present it to be? Kinda. The production design did manage to make me believe that this really is Adam Driver walking through the desolate jurassic age, but is that enough? No, because if I just wanted a cool concept, I would’ve read a short story. Or the one-page treatment that got this film greenlit. But then I remember that it’s produced by the directors, so I’m guessing they didn’t have anyone above them to provide more notes during the writing process.

Adam Driver plays Mills, an interstellar agent from a space-faring civilisation who has recently lost his daughter. Naturally, he’s still recovering from the event. With the only other survivor of the crash being another little girl, there’s a decent amount of material to work with for rounding out these characters’ arcs. Sadly though, it’s presented in the most basic, trope-y fashion you can imagine.

Driver is joined by Ariana Greenblatt, who is talented but is never given enough material to dig herself into. A shy, quiet, but smart girl who has communication issues with our hero — how many times have we seen this concept play out? Greenblatt’s character, Koa, comes from a different culture with their own language and understanding of the cosmos, which could’ve provided some fantastic insight into this world, but it doesn’t. Instead, the most we get on exploring this pre-historic race is its technology, which doesn’t look any more special or unique than the countless other futuristic weapons we’ve seen in movies.

What about the dinosaurs, though? Have we learned to innovate on the action and fear these classic celluloid creatures have presented since the first Jurassic Park? Again, it’s nothing you haven’t seen before. None of these dinos ever had me worried about our heroes. While the visual effects make them look great, I can’t think of one scene where I genuinely thought our heroes might not make it. If you’re going to add this alt-history lore into the world, then why not get really crazy with it? Why not have T-rexes that breathe fire or some shit? It’s not like the film is trying to paint a different picture of history or set up an alternate future like Planet of the Apes. Hell, now that I think about it, a Planet of the Apes-style twist would’ve been icing on this average cake. Early on in the film, they play with the idea of using pre-historic creatures, besides dinos, to add tension, and I think the film could’ve benefitted from sticking with it.

For what it’s worth, the film looks and sounds better than its underwhelming writing. I watched the film at a theatre used for polishing sound mixes, so the better than standard speaker system did the film’s sound design justice. Using natural environments for sets always looks great, and there are some cool uses of caves and ravines for hosting the action, even if the action itself is underwhelming.

Verdict

65 is an unsatisfying creature feature, with a story that never digs beyond the surface of what it presents itself to be.

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