MOVIE REVIEW – Adam Driver as an astronaut crash lands on an unknown planet that turns out to be Earth 65 million years ago. In the company of a little girl, he must battle dangerous cavemen and find his way home. Distributed by Sony, 65 is the work of writer-director duo Scott Beck and Bryan Woods, who are credited with the horror hit A Quiet Place. However, the film is no match for its predecessors or the PlayStation games from which it clearly drew inspiration.
Survival on an alien planet is one of the most popular premise of the sci-fi action-thriller genre. We have seen many films on this theme, such as the Alien series, Avatar and Interstellar. These films usually try to captivate the audience with stunning visuals and an exciting story. The film 65, however, does not build on these, but rather refers back to video games that put the protagonists in a similar situation. Examples include the post-apocalyptic drama The Last of Us, in which a man and a girl must fight their way through an infected world; the sci-fi horror game Returnal, in which a female astronaut must die over and over again on a hostile planet; or the old classic Dino Crysis, in which dinosaurs must face off on a secret island.
The First of Us
The biggest problem with 65 is that it can’t decide whether it wants to be a video game remake or a film. The story is very simple and clichéd: Adam Driver’s character, M Mills, wakes up alone on an unknown planet after a spaceship accident. He soon discovers that he is actually on Earth, only 65 million years ago. He finds himself with a little girl who calls herself Koa and speaks no English. The two survivors must find a radio to call for help. In the meantime, they must avoid the dangerous cavemen that lurk everywhere.
This story could be the basis for a video game, and would probably work better there. The film does not give enough room for character development, dialogue or emotional drama. Most of the film is just about Mills and Koa running and running from dinosaurs. The impact of the feature film is also reinforced by the fact that the film uses a number of motifs that have been seen in other PlayStation games. Examples include the father-daughter and father-‘other daughter’ relationship borrowed from The Last of Us; the time-traveling, force-landed, ripped-apart spaceship element from Returnal; and the dinosaur action from Dino Crysis.
“I am Adam Driver’s wasted talent”
The only positive thing about the film is the performance of Adam Driver, who tries to save the film from total disaster. Driver is one of the best actors in Hollywood, having already proven his talent in films such as the new Star Wars trilogy, The Lifetime and The Last Duet. Driver can authentically convey his character’s emotions and motivations, even without words. He shows this ability in 65, when we see the despair, fear or joy in Mills’ eyes.
But Driver has not been given enough background material to really play his character. The film’s script is very weak and clichéd, and does not give Mills’ character any depth. The film does not deal with Mills’ past, his family or his goals. The film does not show the development of Mills and Koa’s relationship, only how they learn to communicate with each other. The film does not make sense of Mills’ actions, only how he tries to survive. In fact, we don’t even know where Mills even came from, whether he is really human or not, otherwise what the hell is he doing 65 million years ago?
This is a shame, because Driver could have done so much more if he had been given a better script. Driver’s talent is wasted in this film which is not worthy of him and if I were him I would fire his agent.
Plastic scenery and rubbery dinosaurs pouring down your neck
Another strength could be the visual world, showing the ancient Earth and its wildlife. Indeed, the film puts a lot of emphasis on action sequences and special effects in an attempt to impress the audience. But the film is not very successful in this respect either.
The 65 action sequences are very boring and formulaic. The film has nothing new to offer in terms of fighting or escaping from dinosaurs, and it doesn’t take advantage of the planet’s potential, such as its weather, vegetation or diversity of primitive species. There is no excitement or tension: just a series of spectacular but empty scenes.
The 65 special effects are not very impressive either. The film relies too much on computer graphics, which are not up to today’s technological standards. For example, the dinosaurs don’t seem real or threatening and the planet doesn’t seem alive or diverse, the spaceship and its radio don’t seem modern or authentic. (Although we don’t even know who the protagonist is or where he came from, so it’s all a mess.)
So the visuals of 65 cannot compensate for the weak story and characters. The whole thing is a relatively spectacular bore, full of clichés, lip-service, kitsch and lame scenes.
We would have been better off if they had added four more to the 65 in the title, and at least it could have been space porn
As much as I was looking forward to 65, it was a disappointment for me, failing to capitalise on the talents of Adam Driver, the potential of the sci-fi action-thriller genre or the inspiration of PlayStation games. A simple and formulaic story was shoved down our throats with no real excitement, authentic emotion or depth. It’s as if we were watching a video game walkthrough, and the three ‘inspirations’ I mentioned only reinforce this. The 65 is a spectacular, clichéd, kitschy, badly effected bore that vegetates in quality well below even the mediocre offerings of the streaming platforms.
Direction - 3.6
Actors - 6.2
Story - 2.1
Visuals/Music/Sounds/Action - 4.8
Ambience - 2.6
The 65 is a weak sci-fi action thriller that wastes Adam Driver's talent and inspiration for PlayStation games. It tells a simple and clichéd story with no excitement, emotion or depth. The 65 is a spectacular, clichéd, kitschy, badly effected bore that vegetates in quality well below even the mediocre offerings on streaming platforms.
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