’65’ Review: Adam Driver Fights Dinosaurs in a Dull Sci-Fi Actioner

There was never a time when dinosaurs and people shared the planet. Given the need for historical accuracy, this poses a challenge for filmmakers planning to depict interactions between humans and dinosaurs in their next dinosaur film. There’s also the possibility of doing what the movie One Million Years B.C. did and completely denying reality.

A second is to resurrect extinct species, like in Jurassic Park and its many spinoffs. Instead, you could take the characters back in time, as Scott Beck and Bryan Wood do in their film 65, in which Adam Driver portrays a space traveler who crashed on Earth 65 million years ago.

Perhaps the other planet existed at the same time as Earth 65 million years ago; this would explain a significant story point. Mills, played by Adam Driver, must endure the torturous two-year space journey so that he can afford treatment for his sick daughter, Chloe Coleman. It would appear that we are not the only planet without a comprehensive healthcare system.

'65' Review
’65’ Review

Nevertheless, the mission fails when an ominous asteroid storm leads the ship to crash on Earth, leaving only Koa (Ariana Greenblatt), a young girl who doesn’t speak English and is understandably traumatized by the incident, as the sole survivor. And that’s saying a lot, considering that not long after the crash, the two find themselves on a bizarre planet populated by various dinosaurs that all seem hungry and cranky.

The directors, who worked with John Krasinski on the script for the original A Quiet Place movie, have an evident fondness for dinosaurs and other gruesome alien animals. Sam Raimi, one of the producers, fits the bill as well. 65 has an innocent charm that penetrates every scene, giving the impression that it belongs on a double account with classics like The Valley of Gwangi and When Dinosaurs Ruled the World, shown at a drive-in theatre in the 70s.

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But unfortunately, Hollywood has upped the ante somewhat since then, and what would have been a perfectly fine B-picture back in the day looks pretty low-rent compared to the sci-fi blockbusters of recent years. (After all, it’ll be hard to keep them working on the farm after seeing Jurassic World.)

Although 65 does feature the innovative aspect of Driver firing fantastic high-tech weapons at the dinosaurs, the likes of which Jeff Goldblum would have loved having, this is not enough to warrant a recommendation.

Sadly, however, the novelty quickly fades. Most of the film consists of sequences in which our heroes encounter one or more shrieking dinosaurs, only to dispatch them with firearms or explosive devices quickly. Do this process over and over. Almost like a refreshing palate cleanser when Adam Driver’s character nearly drowns in quicksand. The CGI is competent but won’t keep Steven Spielberg up at night.

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Also, the conversation isn’t fascinating because it mainly involves Mills saying a few phrases and Koa echoing them with a curious tone. But when he yells, “Run!” she understands precisely what he means. Their connection may not be warm, but it does generate some warmth since Koa acts as a surrogate daughter, awakening Mills’ protective paternal impulses.

The story doesn’t end until the tiny girl has held her own and saved his life multiple times. The interaction between the two characters is reminiscent of the recent HBO show The Last of Us, but the parallels don’t work in their favor.

Making a rare step into commercial filmmaking (the Star Wars films being the obvious exception), Driver proves to be a powerful action movie hero, his imposing physicality (and, maybe, his experience as a Marine) suiting him well in this role. Coleman, who previously co-starred with David Bautista in My Spy, deftly navigates the role’s physical and emotional challenges because of her prior experience working opposite prominent, rough people.

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