"65" stars Adam Driver, Ariana Greenblatt, Chloe Coleman, and Nika King. Released on March 10, 2023, the film has a pilot and a young survivor stranded on a planet full of dangerous creatures.
The film was written and directed by Scott Beck and Bryan Woods, who also directed "Nightlight" and "Haunt". They're also known for writing "A Quiet Place". Earth was once ruled by prehistoric creatures long before humans like us existed. But what if that's not the case? What if the dinosaurs weren't the only beings during this era? This latest sci-fi film has the answer, courtesy of Scott Beck and Bryan Woods, the writers of "A Quiet Place". After suffering through several release date changes from Sony, we finally got to see Adam Driver take on a bunch of dinosaurs as the past and future collide to provide one of the most interesting concepts in the sci-fi thriller genre. But is this battle for survival thrilling enough to continue the directors' success in their post- "Quiet Place" era, or does it deserve to stay in the past? Let's find out.
The story centers on Mills (Driver), a pilot traveling through space to gain money to treat the illness of his daughter Nevine (Coleman). During the cruise, his ship gets hit by an asteroid and crashlands on an unknown planet, leaving him stranded alone with only a few supplies at his disposal. Fortunately, Mills isn't the only survivor stranded on the planet, as he encounters a young girl named Koa (Greenblatt), who also survived the crash. After exploring the terrain and making a few discoveries involving its monstrous inhabitants, they discover that the planet they're stranded on is actually Earth amid the Cretaceous period, and the creatures residing are prehistoric dinosaurs. With only one chance at rescue, Mills and Koa must work together to fight through the dinosaurs and escape before an asteroid strikes Earth.
Following the success of the "Jurassic World" trilogy, it was only a matter of time before Hollywood capitalized on the revival of the dinosaur thriller trend in movies. However, instead of copying "Jurassic Park" by setting it in modern times, we have a film that literally puts humans in a dinosaur-filled environment millions of years ago. Enter "65", a sci-fi thriller that immediately caught my attention since its trailer debuted. It's got an intriguing concept that combines futuristic sci-fi elements with old-fashioned survival thrills and Adam Driver, who's continuing his successful track record with films outside the recent "Star Wars" movies. More importantly, it has Scott Beck and Bryan Woods taking the helm at something that doesn't involve blind aliens. In all seriousness, though, "A Quiet Place" was my first exposure to the duo, as they wrote the movie's screenplay with its director John Krasinski. Long story short, I loved their writing in the frightening and emotionally thoughtful horror film. It's enough to make me curious to see Beck and Woods' take on dinosaur survival as both writers and directors. However, I have not seen any of their past directorial efforts, so consider this review my first experience with their direction.
The film is how I would describe it as a combination of "Jurassic Park" and any survival horror movie you can think of, like "A Quiet Place", with a dash of "The Last of Us" for good measure. Why "The Last of Us"? It's because of Driver's character, Mills, protecting Koa like she's his daughter after his real one died from a sickness. Plus, I recently watched "The Last of Us" before seeing "65", so I couldn't help but make that comparison. This combination should help the film provide a fun experience filled with human-vs-dinosaur action and frightening imagery. Unfortunately, despite delivering those elements we'd expect, the film lacks anything else in its oversimplified plot to match its tension-filled scenario.
There's nothing entirely wrong with having a simplistic narrative in a movie, whether it's a comedy, an action movie, or even a sci-fi thriller. It's a suitable way for audiences to unwind and enjoy a straightforward experience without any real-life problems distracting them. However, what really matters is how the execution is presented in a film's simplicity. It's got to have a functional approach in its concept and characters to inject a sense of fun, thrills, and an occasional display of heart into its limited storytelling. But, more importantly, it needs to deliver what audiences expect based on the marketing.
In this case, "65" delivers on the concept of Adam Driver surviving on Earth during the Cretaceous period, which is far from consistently thrilling but passable at best. Amid the horrors of battling dinosaurs, the movie also showcases Mills as a pilot filled with regret for leaving her sick daughter to go on an expedition. He then forms an unlikely bond with Koa, who speaks a different language, and protects her from the creatures during their trek to an escape shuttle. Unfortunately, this element is where the movie struggled to retain its thriller and emotional aspects. Despite a couple of pleasant moments between the characters, the film's screenplay by Beck and Woods fell flat in providing a strong enough connection for the survivors. Even if it does have a tender-hearted moment between the two, it comes off as unconvincing and even rushed. It had the right idea on this dynamic, but its restricted character moments prevent it from being the primary source of the movie's tension.
It also doesn't help that the screenplay doesn't provide anything new in its narrative we haven't seen before regarding its tropes. It's pretty disappointing, considering that Beck and Woods's script for "A Quiet Place" superbly combined well-rounded characters with effective survival horror cliches. However, the duo managed to compensate for it with their approach to the film. Scott Beck and Bryan Woods delivered a vision reflecting on the bleak and hostile nature of prehistoric Earth filled with dangerous predators through its cinematography and set designs. While the amount of dinosaurs is surprisingly limited to just the meat-eating ones, the directing duo offers some admirable attempts at delivering the dreaded fear of being hunted by dinosaurs, even if some sequences fell short of expectations.
The cast is one of the only elements that make this dangerous trek watchable. Like the dinosaurs, the list of actors that appeared in the movie is minimal, with the main focus being on Adam Driver and Ariana Greenblatt. These two are tasked to carry the film themselves through their performances, while Chloe Coleman and Nika King (who plays Mills' wife Alya) only appear in a couple of scenes. Thankfully, they did a decent enough job accomplishing this mission. Driver retained his status as a talented actor regarding his performance as Mills, while Ariana Greenblatt did very well following suit as Koa. Greenblatt is another young actor who continues to impress me with their minor roles, and I hope she maintains that success with her upcoming projects slated for release soon. Despite their small screen time, Coleman and King were also suitable with their performances as Nevine and Alya, respectively.
Another thing I was okay with was the visual effects. Made with a $45 million budget, "65" delivers some tolerable CGI for the dinosaurs and action scenes. While the action felt underwhelming sometimes, the visuals worked well in portraying the dangers of being attacked by a dinosaur. It shows that the visuals can work in a mid-budget movie if enough care is put into them.
Overall, "65" is a surprisingly underwhelming and overly simplified sci-fi thriller that wastes its exciting concept. Its serviceable cast, environment, and solid visuals make it watchable for those wanting to see Adam Driver shoot down dinosaurs with his futuristic gun. Sadly, there's nothing else in this grimly stale trek that makes it stand out from other movies with better approaches to its themes and elements. With its mediocre storytelling, subpar character development, rushed pacing, and lack of memorable thrills, the film fails to keep itself from being dinosaur food. It's not the worse movie I've seen compared to the other stinkers of 2023, but considering the talent involved, this is a prehistoric letdown that should've gone extinct with the other dinosaurs.
Leave a Reply.
Home of the most friendly movie reviews on the planet.