Dino Schlock

Adam Driver rockets in from another galaxy for ’65,’ a disappointing sci-fi curio

“PRIOR TO THE ADVENT OF MANKIND…” announces disappointing sci-fi curio 65 as on-screen text appears over views of intergalactic celestial visions. It’s the kind of pseudo-philosophical bloviating that tries to simulate grandiosity but comes off like a lofty tweener describing prehistoric times. What the hell is happening? And why even name a movie after a common legal speed limit or the age for Medicare eligibility?

If you’re watching 65, chances are it’s because you know Adam Driver is in it and there are dinosaurs. That’s a pretty good hook, and it deserves a pretty good moniker. Don’t expect one here: after a lengthy pre-title sequence, the numbers finally appear in a big, stylized font with more text underneath. “65 MILLION YEARS AGO, A VISITOR CRASH-LANDED ON EARTH,” it reads. So basically the film’s name is a plot synopsis shortened to its first word. And Driver is a brutally charismatic E.T.

65 ★★ (2/5 stars)
Directed by: Scott Beck, Bryan Woods
Written by: Scott Beck, Bryan Woods
Starring: Adam Driver, Ariana Greenblatt, Chloe Coleman, Nika King
Running time: 93 min

Even though Driver looks convincingly human, he is actually from the planet Somaris and is the pilot for a long-range, two-year exploratory mission in outer space. Seems strange that they would call a two-year mission “long-range” and that dozens of passengers are all in cryogenic sleep, but maybe Somarisans experience time differently. Driver’s character has the galactically exotic name of “Mills”, and he reluctantly accepts the space gig despite the fact that his young daughter Nevine (Chloe Coleman) is—cough, cough—gravely ill. Mills is going to get triple pay, which might help with the kid’s medical problems (spoiler alert: it doesn’t.)

Mills would have gotten back all right if he hadn’t piloted into an unexpected asteroid belt—some navigator he is!—which pummels the ship, knocks it off-course, and forces a crash-landing on a nearby exoplanet that we might otherwise know as Earth during the Cretaceous era. The ship splits apart, and his half lands in what looks like Yoda’s bog from Dagobah. The life-support systems fail for all but one lucky sleeper: Koa (Ariana Greenblatt), a 9-year-old who speaks a different language and whose parents died in the crash.

A dad separated from his terminally ill pre-teen daughter and a 9-year-old foreigner orphan—stuck on a dinosaur planet! Sounds dope. Let’s do this. Except it’s kind of dull. Dinosaurs attack, that’s mostly fun, but Driver dispatches them pretty quickly and with very little novelty or finesse.

Mills discovers that the other half of their starship ended up 15 kilometers away on the top of a mountain. More crucially, it has an escape vessel. So the duo start their trek across the dino-infested wilds, climb up the dino-encircled mountain and engage in a handful of uninspired dino brawls. Mills teaches Koa some basic grammar, Koa tries out a few phrases, but they otherwise don’t understand each other. Unless they suddenly do, like when Mills yells “Run!”

Driver is a commanding presence, dutifully adding sobriety to an increasingly silly dino romp. Greenblatt competently plays her linguistically challenged orphan, but doesn’t have much to do aside from look scared and speak in frustrated gibberish. The real problem is the script, a promising but befuddled and oddly banal action pic that spoils its two main assets: Driver and dinosaurs. It also has a lazy approach to storytelling, like when the severely shredded, broken-in-half and dino-rampaged starship suddenly announces “repair cycle initiated.”

In a sign of narrative desperation, a new plot point emerges: Mills realizes that an enormous asteroid is headed towards Earth and will make impact in 12 hours. So the movie literally takes place on the very same day that dinosaurs vanish off the face of the earth in the world’s most infamous ecological disaster. Talk about bad timing. Among Mills’ fighting tactics: boiling a dino to death with well-timed geyser water and using a hologram of his dead daughter as chomping bait. It’s an odd, absurd, tacky space adventure that’ll have you rooting for mass extinction.

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Stephen Garrett

Stephen Garrett is the former film editor of 'Time Out New York’ and has written about the movie industry for more than 20 years. A Rotten Tomatoes certified reviewer, Garrett is also the founder of Jump Cut, a marketing company that creates trailers and posters for independent, foreign-language, and documentary films.

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