Despite a run of fantasy films in the 50’s and 60’s, the never ending Land Before Time series, the Jurassic Park franchise and The Flintstones, I guess, I’ve always felt that modern Hollywood’s sort of slept on our unkillable fascination of those tyrant lizards that once stomped across the face of the earth – I mean, you could debate the existence of others, but why chuck out names like Peter Jackson’s dino ridden King Kong or Z-grade gore-fest Carnosaur when neither of them were released within the last 15 years.
Anyway, my point is that with the release of 65, we now have a certified dino-flick that stands on it’s own two claws that sees Adam Driver’s stranded alien play surrogate Pedro Pascal to an orphaned child as they struggle to survive numerous instances of prehistoric pulping in order to get back home. However, after actually watching 65, there may be a chance that dinosaur movies, independent of Spielbergian safari parks, may go extinct once again…


Agreeing to helm a two year voyage transporting cryo pods across the galaxy in order to afford to pay for his daughter’s operation, gloomy pilot Mills finds that his journey is about to take an unscheduled pit stop after a mahoosive asteroid dings his craft and sends him crashing to an unpopulated, unexplored, backwater planet we know as earth – only 65 million years ago.
After a quick sweep, two things become immediately apparent to Mills; the first is that he couldn’t have landed in a more hostile period in Earth’s history even if he crashed into Washington D.C. in the January of 2021 and the second is that all his frozen passengers are deader than disco and he probanly shouldn’t be expecting any bonus for this trip.
Going through the usual range of emotions for a shipwrecked lead, he finally regains some focus when he discovers that he isn’t actually the only survivor and that the cryo Chamber belonging to nine year-old Koa is still intact. However, now that he has a purpose to go on, other issues come to light. Koa speaks an entirely different language, thus making communication difficult and to make it to their escape pod, they’ll have to locate the other half of their wrecked ship that current sits in top of a freaking mountain. Of course, the more noticable hurdle is trying to pick their way through a primordial landscape literally filled with sulfurous geysers, killer bugs and… wait, what was that other thing… oh yeah, I remember now – goddamn dinosaurs!! If that wasn’t bad enough, a harsh, ticking clock has also been established when Mills realises that the asteroid that downed his ship is part of a larger cluster that’s about to plough into the planet and exterminate all life in a matter of days – talk about working hard for your money…


Written and directed by Scott Beck and Bryan Woods, aka. two of the guys that wrote A Quiet Place, 65 carries a similar structure in that an adult and a child with some sort of communication issues scrabble around in the dirt while spikey, fanged predators attempt to literally make a meal of their insides. Dialogue is sparse, atmosphere is key and all the while, the movie keeps tapping us on the shoulder and whispering reminders that this is all a big metaphor for parenthood, or something…
Thing is, while 65 certainly has its moments, it’s definitely no A Quiet Place as it’s brief running time and mawkish message doesn’t register nearly half as well amidst the super-serious tone and endless CGI jump scares. While I’ll readily admit that not every blockbuster movie needs an endless stream of quips and wise cracks to balance out a more serious tone, 65 is often so po-faced that despite the running, shooting and jumping, their a feeling that there’s a distinct lack of adventure in this adventure movie.
It’s a shame, because the basic premise of “Adam Driver fighting Dinosaurs” had my mouth watering as the actor – Star Wars aside of course – was yet to fling himself into the blockbuster realm, but while the stripped-back nature of the film certainly matches his usual, intense persona, its stern nature actually manages to dilute some of the more emotional issues.


The sick/dead child plot trope is vintage to films like this when you need an emotionally scarred protagonist, but the movie keeps things weirdly vague in order to try and draw out a painfully obvious plot twist later and the choice to put an extra obstacle in Mills and Koa path by erecting a language barrier just seems arbitrary, especially when the first third of your movie is Adam Driver yelling at a kid in the forrest. The result is a film that feels cold when it should be striving for warmth – Aliens also has a mourning parent fighting toothy bastards to protect a surrogate child and it’s also very intense while it goes about its business, but it’s also very warm (much like A Quiet Place) when exploring parenthood in peril and that’s were 65 is truly lacking.
Taking the lack of emotion and some fuzzy script work into account (why is Mills measuring things in Kilometres if he’s an alien?), the stalky/jumpy scenes are effective if somewhat samey. However, when it comes to that benchmark moment of all post-Jurassic Park dino movies – the stomach-dropping moment when a T-Rex silently slinks in behind a blindly unaware victim – it finally manages to hit paydirt as the attack sequences are quick and spiteful. It’s a nice touch that a lot of the dinosaur designs are tweaked to be a little exaggerated too in order for them to seem more alien than we’re used to because, to Mills and Koa, they totally are. You’ll jump when you’re supposed to, you’ll be grossed out when the film deals in some squirm inducing insect stuff and you’ll will Driver (and his surprisingly flimsy tech) to run faster when a Rex is hot on his heels, but you’ll remain stubbonly unaffected once the credits start to roll.


Not a total waste by any means, but frustratingly forgettable for a movie with such a muscular concept, 65 looks destined to be yet another science fiction movie based on an original premise that will probably vanish without a trace from your memory before you’ve even left the theatre. However, while 65 is a perfectly acceptable way to waste an hour and a half, you’ll strongly get the feeling that, much like its saurian antagonists, it’ll also need to get rediscovered by curious historians as the years tick by…


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