65 Is Just So Painfully Boring

Dept. of Dino Duels


Here’s the thing. I don’t need much from my movies. I’m a simple guy with uncomplicated needs. All I really wanted from 65 was a badass Adam Driver, stranded on an “alien” planet, either hunting, or being hunted, by dinosaurs. That was the promise of the trailer. What these 90 minutes gave me instead was an overstuffed, underdeveloped, and wholly uninspired mishmash that doesn’t lean into any of the things it was trying to do. It was barely sci-fi, the action was incredibly pedestrian, and it wasn’t nearly tense enough to be a survival story.

But 65’s greatest sin – besides its terrible title – is just how painfully dull it is. Which is so very disappointing for a movie that’s got dinosaurs and laser guns.

The Great Migration


The movie opens with a series of expository statements telling us that long before the advent of humanity, there were other spacefaring species that explored the universe. We then zoom down onto a planet (it has a name, but I can’t really remember what it is) where we are introduced to Adam Driver’s Mills, his wife, and their daughter. We quickly learn that he’s about to embark on a two year journey into deep space. We are told that his daughter is sick and that taking this job was the only way they could afford to pay for her treatments. We’re not really sure what she has, how bad it is, or how long she has to live, but she does cough a couple of times so we know she isn’t faking it.

Before you know it we’re in a spaceship that seems to be carrying a cargo of cryopods. It flies through an uncharted asteroid field, gets pelted, and crash lands on an “alien” planet. All but one of the cryopods are destroyed in the crash, and Mills sets out to look for the sole survivor – who happens to be a convenient surrogate for his ailing daughter – save her life, and get her home. 

Also, it isn’t an “alien” planet that they’ve crash landed on, but actually prehistoric Earth. (Thanks again, expository title cards!)

Beyond the Mysterious Beyond


Now, I get what Scott Beck and Bryan Woods were trying to do with this. A reverse Predator movie does sound like a fun idea. A survival story featuring a spacefarer and his young ward as they make their way through a hostile planet has plenty of potential. Throw in a language barrier for our two protagonists, a few nods to Jurassic Park and The Twilight Zone, and you should have all the necessary ingredients for a movie that’s both tense and thrilling. It is, after all, pretty much what Dan Trachtenberg did in last year’s most excellent Prey.

65, however, ends up feeling like one of those mockbuster knock-offs that remind you of a better, more famous movie. You know what I’m talking about. You’ve seen them before. Not RoboCop, but Android Cop. Transformers was big, so let’s make Transmorphers, which is close enough to remind you of it, but not enough to get us sued.

Both Adam Driver and Ariana Greenblatt have an incredible screen presence, but the material they are given just isn’t enough to make us feel anything in the 90 or so minutes they have together. Their misadventures together are so bitty (she’s attacked by pterosaurs, he falls out of a tree and dislocates his arm, a Ceti eel like creature crawls into her mouth while she’s sleeping, there’s a cave-in that separates them, he gets trapped in quicksand, you get the idea) that none of them actually work toward creating that emotional father/daughter bond the filmmakers are going for.

If We Hold On Together


And then there’s the “world building” that’s done in the first few minutes of the movie. All of it seems to want to set up something larger. But they end up being meaningless throwaways. Who are these ancient spacefarers? Why was Mills transporting those cryopods? Where were they headed? Were these a small group of scientists looking for new worlds to inhabit? Was their own world dying? Is that why Mills’ daughter was sick?

Now if 65 just focussed on its premise, none of this would actually matter. But because it doubles down on the pretense of being something more, the movie ends up feeling incomplete.

65 is what happens when a whole bunch of “cool” ideas and childhood inspirations are cobbled together and made into a movie. It mirrors how we use to play as children. Adding new elements to our stories every time we saw a thing on television or were given a new toy. When it works, you get Calvin’s Spaceman Spiff, crash landing on a planet that’s inhabited with dinosaurs. When it doesn’t, you end up with something without any of Bill Waterson’s colour or imagination.

65 is now showing in Malaysian cinemas.

Uma has been reviewing things for most of his life: movies, television shows, books, video games, his mum's cooking, Bahir's fashion sense. He is a firm believer that the answer to most questions can be found within the cinematic canon. In fact, most of what he knows about life he learned from Ace Ventura: Pet Detective. He still hasn't forgiven Christopher Nolan for the travesties that are Interstellar and The Dark Knight Rises.

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