65 movie review: dino droppings

MaryAnn’s quick take: Adam Driver’s intensely focused, utterly unironic performance is the only saving grace of this movie of few ideas and little suspense, mystery, or excitement. There aren’t even that many dinosaurs.
I’m “biast” (pro): love dinosaurs, love Adam Driver, big sci-fi dork
I’m “biast” (con): nothing
(what is this about? see my critic’s minifesto)
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Not that long ago, a movie like this one — rugged survival drama about an astronaut who has “crash-landed on an uncharted celestial body” and discovers that “there’s something alien out there” — would have ended with a solemn revelation like “and that planet… was Earth. *insert Charlton-Heston-they-did-it.gif*

Only M. Night Shyamalan attempts cheese like that anymore, almost always unsuccessfully, so — thank the Maker — 65 makes it perfectly clear from its opening credits, from its trailer even, that 65 million years ago on planet Earth is absolutely, definitely where Adam Driver’s downed star pilot finds himself. And not even with the sort of Velveeta that the film’s marketing description suggests! Direct quote: “Mills (Adam Driver) quickly discovers he’s actually stranded on Earth…65 million years ago.” LOL, no. Such a “discovery” would require that he understands that he is living in the distant past of a species millions of years from evolving into a form in which it can even create a civilization. Why would he think that? As far as Mills is concerned, he has literally crash-landed on an uncharted celestial body inhabited by something literally alien, because he’s on a planet that is, by definition, alien to him.

65 Adam Driver
“Are you ribbing me? What the hell sort of planet have I crashed on?”

(La-la-la *fingers in ears* don’t talk to me about the fact that Adam Driver’s 65-million-years-ago astronaut looks exactly like one of the very same upright bipedal primates who would go on to evolve on the planet he randomly happened to crash on all those megayears ago. I’m taking his physical biological appearance as sci-fi shorthand for “person from a technologically sophisticated culture.” Though maybe the movie could have at least given him a funny forehead or something, Star Trek style.)

Ironically enough, however, the notion that a long-ago spacefarer crashed on prehistoric (from our standpoint) Earth and has to survive dinosaurs remains the only nominally intriguing thing about 65, and of course it shoots that wad early on. This is a movie of few ideas and little suspense, mystery, or excitement. There aren’t even that many dinosaurs. *insert Ian-Malcolm-so-eventually-you-will-have-some-dinosaurs-on-this-dinosaur-tour.gif*

If only the writing-and-directing team of Scott Beck and Bryan Woods — among the screenwriters of A Quiet Place — actually explored the idea of Earth as an “alien” world! There is some brief initial power in the perspective-shift this setup demands: I dunno, some Battlestar Galactica–esque “this has happened before, and will happen again” shit, like. The movie never capitalizes on that, though, never even seems to appreciate that this is a possibility. There is nothing to 65 except Adam Driver (Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, Logan Lucky) shepherding the only other survivor of their crash, a nine-year-old girl (Ariana Greenblatt: In the Heights, Love and Monsters) — he was the pilot, she was a passenger in cryofreeze — through a (minimally) dino-infested forest to what he hopes is an intact escape pod that might get them off the planet.

65 Adam Driver Ariana Greenblatt
“The three terrors of the Dino Swamp? I don’t think they really exist…”

Driver’s intensely focused, utterly unironic performance is the only saving grace of 65, and the movie doesn’t deserve it. I’m not sure that many people realize that Driver was a US fucking Marine before he went into acting, but he deploys that honestly come-by military ferocity here. I wish the rest of the movie around him could rise to the dedication he brings to it.

Maybe the best(-worst) indication of the lack of imagination at play in 65 is the reason that Beck and Woods came up with to justify Driver’s pilot taking on the extreme mission that lands him in this mess in the first place: his young daughter (Chloe Coleman [Avatar: The Way of Water, My Spy]; watch this kid, she is going places), who mostly appears in flashbacks and in his stored videos, is really sick and needs expensive medical treatment, and this long-hauling piloting job will pay very well and help with that. Only American creators could fail to appreciate that even here and now, on planet Earth in the early 21st century, even before homo sapiens have mastered interstellar travel, only America among advanced wealthy nations makes you pay through the goddamn nose for health care for a sick child. It’s probably too much to expect that people who want to write science-fucking-fiction yet who cannot see past their own noses in the here and now can be expected to come up with anything more inventive than what we get here. Sad.

more films like this:
Prospect [Prime US | Apple TV US | Apple TV UK | Hulu US | Sky Store UK]
Jurassic Park [Prime US | Prime UK | Apple TV]

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