The San Juan Daily Star
‘65’ review: What on Earth?
By A.O. Scott
To paraphrase an old Monty Python sketch, nobody suspects the Cretaceous-Tertiary Extinction.
Certainly the poor dinosaurs didn’t, though for their more obsessive present-day human fans the fact that this movie is called “65” — as in million years ago — might count as a spoiler. When Mills the space pilot crash-lands on a muddy, reptile-infested Earth after his vessel is hit by an asteroid, you might have an inkling of the larger disaster in store.
I don’t mean the movie; that would be unkind. “65,” directed by Scott Beck and Bryan Woods (two writers of the first “Quiet Place” film), is not interesting enough to be truly terrible or terrible enough to be halfway interesting. As Mills, Adam Driver does a lot of breathing and grunting as he runs a gantlet of familiar dangers. In addition to the T. rexes and other saurian menaces, he faces quicksand, large bugs, falling rocks, malfunctioning equipment and the withering judgment of a 9-year-old girl.
But let’s back up a second. Who are these people, and how did they get to our planet before (if I may quote the opening titles) “the advent of mankind”? The answer is that they belonged to an ancient extraterrestrial civilization, one sufficiently advanced to have invented not only space travel, but the usual array of futuristic sci-fi technology.
Their health care system was pretty bad, though. Mills’ adolescent daughter, Nevine (Chloe Coleman), suffers from a persistent, apparently life-threatening cough, and the only way he can afford her treatment is by taking on a high-paying “long-range exploratory mission.” He’s already grief-stricken when the asteroid hits, cleaving his spaceship in two and killing all of his cryogenically frozen passengers except one, a girl named Koa (Ariana Greenblatt).
The folks on their home planet, realistically enough, speak more than one language, so Koa and Mills — whose native idiom is English — can’t communicate very well. Also, he’s a grumpy, unhappy man and she’s a moody girl, so we’re on familiar survival-story terrain. “65” is a little like “The Last of Us,” but with dinosaurs instead of mushrooms and no obvious sociological theme that would sustain a think piece.
Which would be to its credit, if it managed to be a simple, effective action movie. Or science-fiction movie. Or scary movie. Or something. Like Mills’ emotional back story, the special effects seem to have been pulled out of a box of secondhand ideas. Nor is the execution all that impressive. There’s little in the way of awe, suspense or surprise. Just a quickly hatched plan to get off this God-forsaken planet and leave it to its fate.
‘65’: Rated PG-13 (for dinosaur blood and prehistoric curses). Running time: 1 hour 33 minutes. In theaters.