65 2023 Movie Review
Right from the outset, the premise to 65 seems so outrageous that it might actually be good. After all, who doesn’t want to watch Adam Driver dash across a prehistoric Earth blasting dinosaurs with a sonic rifle?
Unfortunately, the film quickly flatlines due to its grave tone, heavy-handed delivery of worn science-fiction tropes and inability to lean into its preposterous plot. What could have been a great popcorn flick ends up being an overproduced and derivative 90 minutes, with a cast too stellar for the film’s own good.
Released in UAE cinemas on Thursday, 65 tells the story of Mills (Driver), an astronaut from an advanced alien civilisation who crash lands on Earth about 65 million years ago, when dinosaurs ruled the planet.
Don’t worry, this isn’t a Planet of the Apes-type twist and we haven’t given anything away. The film makes clear from the beginning that the strange and unchartered planet that Mills’s ship crashes to is Earth. While it’s probably a good thing that 65 didn’t keep its location a secret for long, the fact that it’s revealed in a text at the start of the film is a bit callow. But that’s fine. We’re not here for a masterclass in scriptwriting, right? Bring on Driver and the dinosaurs.
But first, we have to toil through 10 minutes of arduous exposition.
Mills is on a beach on his home planet with his wife, Alya (Nika King) and daughter Nevine (Chloe Coleman). We learn that the astronaut is taking up a two-year expeditionary mission with the aim of paying for a treatment that could save his daughter’s life. Further details of her sickness aren’t disclosed, but that doesn’t take away from the plot.
This fact could easily have been revealed later in the film, through one of many scenes where Mills is watching old messages from his family on mobile holographic technology. A more exciting beginning, and one that would have added a much-needed layer of mystery, would have been to simply start off where he wakes up as his ship is on the verge of being bombarded by a cluster of unmapped asteroids that send him off course and on to Earth.
The impact kills almost all the ship’s passengers, save for a young girl, Koa. Portrayed by Ariana Greenblatt, Koa is every bit the archetypal doe-eyed, silent companion with which sci-fi is replete. She speaks a language that Mills doesn’t understand and ends up only parroting a few words here and there. Really, she seems to exist only as a foil to Driver’s character, giving him a reason to find an escape shuttle that went astray as his ship plummeted towards Earth, and helping him come to terms with the loss of his daughter.
While you can’t really torch a sci-fi film with dinosaurs for lacking emotional and scriptwriting depth, it really does feel like the cameras began rolling while a first draft was barely penned. But who cares, as long as the dinosaurs and the action scenes are on point, right?
Ah, the dinosaurs. Well, this is no Jurassic Park. There is no Spielberg sense of awe or terror when we first come across the monumental creatures. The special effects are nothing to write home about either.
Some of the dinosaur encounters are fun, but every cliff-hanger ends up almost immediately being a stairstep. Again, another few drafts of the script would possibly have salvaged the film, along with a more imaginative ending, but by the time Mills and Koa manage to shuttle off the planet, minutes before the asteroid comes down to wipe out the dinosaurs with surprising, lacklustre glory, you may have long jetted out of the cinema yourself.