’65’ proves that dinosaur movies are going extinct

Photo courtesy of Sony Pictures

The prehistoric world remains a mystery to many, and dinosaurs seem to be an ancient and foreign thought. Many popular films like “Jurassic Park” pose the question: “What if dinosaurs existed today?”

However, “65” introduces a new scenario: What if a spaceship landed on a dinosaur infested planet?

Starring Adam Driver, “65” tells the story of a futuristic spaceship that crash-lands on an uncharted planet — Earth, 65 million years ago — after sailing through an undocumented asteroid cluster. He finds out the hard way that this planet is home to something entirely alien: dinosaurs. 

When Mills (Driver) realizes he’s not the only survivor of the crash, he must protect 9-year-old Koa (Ariana Greenblatt) as they venture the dangerous planet in search of an escape.

To make matters more difficult, Koa speaks an entirely different language than Mills, leading to a block in communication between the lead characters. While this was annoying for both the audience and Mills, some comedic moments did come from the language barrier.

One great example is when Koa starts to repeat some “adult language” that Mills should have kept to himself. Or when Koa picks poisonous berries and Mills has to communicate that they’re not safe to eat — which he does by pointing at her stomach and making a series of weird noises and faces to represent an angry or upset stomach. 

Aside from the intended humor, there were many plot aspects that came together to create something laughable. I’m specifically referring to all of the near-death situations that Mills encounters while on this planet. 

From asteroids, to quicksand, tar and dinosaurs — Adam Driver cannot catch a break in “65,” and all you can wonder when Mills’ moves to a new scene is: What on Earth is going to happen now?

There was a surprising amount of comedy in “65,” which offered a nice break from the seemingly never-ending suspense. One thing about this film, it will keep you on your toes.

Suspense is one of few things that worked well in this film. The nerve-wracking, eerie silences before a jump scare or a gruesome attack kept my heart racing, and the realistic dinosaurs and special effects added to the excitement of the movie.

The dinosaurs were done exceptionally well, almost a little too well. There were often times where I caught myself rooting for the dinosaurs, rather than Mills, due to how emotive and lifelike they were. There was even a tear or two shed over an adorable dinosaur who deserved a better ending.

[Adam Driver stars as Mills in “65.”]
Photo courtesy of Sony Pictures

While this film was generally entertaining, there are a list of downfalls that, in the end, result in a sub-par viewing experience.

To start, the cast in this film is very limited, with Driver and Greenblatt being the only two actors with over five-ish minutes of screen time. You’d think “65” would spend time with character development, since there’s only two leads to focus on. Unfortunately, that wasn’t the case, and the result was basic and shallow characters that were difficult to form a meaningful connection with.

“65” jumps straight into the action and lacks any sort of in-depth development of a backstory, which leads to questions like: “Where was the ship going?” “Why was there a child on a two year space mission?” and “Why should I care about any of these people?”

The worst part? You never get any answers.

Since Mills and Koa have a language barrier, there is a scarcity of connection between the leads, and most of Mills’ dialogue and monologues lose all impact once you realize Koa has absolutely no idea what he’s saying. 

Another disappointing aspect was the lack of clarity to the audience. “65” is classified as a sci-fi thriller, so it’s expected that there’s going to be some futuristic devices in play, but the audience is never really cued into what these devices are for.

For example, it was especially confusing when Koa and Mills were sleeping in a cave and there’s sensors on the ground, which were previously solid yellow, start flashing red and yellow in different patterns. You can infer that something bad is probably going to happen, but it would’ve been more impactful if the audience knew what this meant. 

While the film’s premise is unique, the plot’s potential is fairly underutilized and barely scrapes the surface of what is possible, which leads to a cheesy and semi-predictable storyline. 

It seems both critics and audiences agree. As of March 14, “65” currently has a Rotten Tomatoes critic score of 38% and an audience score of 63%. Most reviews have the same consensus: “65”’s plot lacked depth, and so did its characters.

The most shocking fact about this movie is that it was written by the same writers who worked on the “A Quiet Place” films, which have near perfect Rotten Tomatoes scores, and are some of my favorite sci-fi thrillers of all time.

Unfortunately, “65” just isn’t a hit. Part of this may be due to the unforgettable legacy of the “Jurassic Park” franchise, but it feels as though “65” didn’t put in any effort to try and be a hit.

While “65” isn’t a cinematic masterpiece by any means, it’ll make you laugh a couple times,  give you a jump scare or two and will at least mildly entertain you for 90 minutes.

This is a movie that you should wait to see when it releases on streaming services; don’t waste $12 on a movie ticket and risk regret.

“65” is now playing in theaters, but take it from me, you’re not missing much.

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