65 (2023) poster

65 (2023)

Rating:


USA. 2023.

Crew

Directors/Screenplay – Scott Beck & Bryan Woods, Producers – Zainab Azizi, Scott Beck, Deborah Liebling, Sam Raimi & Bryan Woods, Photography – Salvatore Totino, Music – Chris Bacon, Visual Effects Supervisor – Chris Harvey, Visual Effects – Framestore (Supervisors – Glenn Melenhorst & Josh Simmons), G-Creative (Supervisor – Gladys Tong) & Ghost VFX (Supervisors – Alexander Cederlund & Claus Kogsbøll), Special Effects Supervisor – Mark Hawker, Production Design – Kevin Ishioka. Production Company – Columbia/Bron Creative/TSG Entertainment/Raimi Productions/Beck-Woods.

Cast

Adam Driver (Mills), Ariana Greenblatt (Koa), Chloe Coleman (Nevine), Nika King (Nevine’s Mom)


Plot

65 million years ago. On the planet Somaris, Mills leaves behind his wife and daughter to pilot a two year space mission. However, the ship is struck by debris from an oncoming asteroid and crashlands on a nearby planet. During the crash, the sections containing the cryogenically-frozen passengers are destroyed. Mills emerges to find himself on a prehistoric world filled with dinosaurs. He also encounters a young girl Koa, the sole survivor from among the passengers. Despite neither speaking the same language, he persuades her to join him as they make the perilous journey to a mountainside where the escape capsule has fallen and offers their only hope of getting off the planet. As Mills becomes aware, the asteroid approaching the planet will devastate all life in the area unless they make it to the escape capsule in time.


65 comes from the directing/writing team of Scott Beck and Bryan Woods who had previously made the Found Footage horror Nightlight (2015) and Haunt (2019) about a sinister Halloween haunted house attraction. However, what gained them attention was their script for the big hit of A Quiet Place (2018). They also wrote the subsequent Stephen King adaptation The Boogeyman (2023). The film is produced by Raimi Productions, the recently former production company of Sam Raimi, which was also responsible for Crawl (2019), Umma (2021) and Boy Kills World (2023). It may say something about how well 65 fared that it sat on the shelf with multiply cancelled release date before being released to theatres on March 10, 2023 and going to streaming less than a month later.

When I first glanced at some of the pre-release for 65, the premise seemed an exciting one – the idea of Adam Driver leading an exhibition back in time to hunt dinosaurs. It was something of what the disastrous A Sound of Thunder (2005) should have been. Or perhaps even more closely a filmed version of the Flesh (1977) comic-strip that appeared in the early days of 2000 A.D. about time-travelling expeditions to hunt dinosaurs. That was based on my minimal glance at the material – usually only enough to glean sufficient information to know it is a film I wanted to cover but not enough so that it holds no surprises.

I am not quite sure why I ended conflating the idea of time travel into the premise. On the other hand, I am hard-pressed to think of any other way to have a scenario in which humans are hunted by dinosaurs in the prehistoric past. All of that said, the film manages to come up with one. It appears that 65 million years ago, on the other side of the galaxy a parallel culture identical to humanity in every way but maybe a century or so more technically advanced has evolved. Apparently they are such an identical culture to Earth that they even have an American-styled medical system, necessitating the point that kicks the plot off where Adam Driver has to take the space mission to afford to pay for medical treatment for his daughter.

Adam Driver on prehistoric Earth in 65 (2023)
Adam Driver on prehistoric Earth

I am sorry but as a premise for a film – it takes place in Earth’s prehistoric past but where an alien people just happened to have evolved an identical parallel culture to our own – this is down around the level of plausibility of the average Irwin Allen tv series – you know like Lost in Space (1965-8) where the Robinson family wander all over the galaxy and each time happen to encounter aliens that speak perfect English without the use of universal translators, or Land of the Giants (1968-7) where the crew of a ship just happen to land on a parallel Earth where the culture is identical but the main cast are only about a tenth the size of everyone else.

As to the rest of the film, none of it seems to connect. All it seems to have been conceived as is a survival scenario of two people racing to flee the Earth before the Chicxulub asteroid strikes. Which does have some possibilities, but they are all handled in a desultory way. Adam Driver, talented actor and all that I hold him up to be, seems to be straining to try and strike up some kind of conenction with cute kid Ariana Greenblatt, which mostly seems based around holograms of his daughter and giving Arianna explosives.

Even the dinosaur aspect feels fairly perfunctory, although that is perhaps more the case that one has been spoiled by the various Jurassic Park/World films. Where the various Jurassic World films come with budgets around the $150-200 million range, 65 was produced on a budget of only $45 million. As a result, the dinosaurs are reduced to one of two attacks on Adam Driver throughout and then a big climactic scene where he is pursued by a T-Rex and improbably manages to save the day by luring it to be cooked inside a steam geyser.


Trailer here


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